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Garden Rabbits – a great addition for your vegetable patch

A few years ago we adopted a couple large rabbits from a
local rescue organization.  They exclusively
rescue rabbits from shuttered pet stores and from owners who no longer want to
care for them.  They have many rabbits
all waiting for a good home and we’ve discovered what valuable pets rabbits can
be.

First, a little background.  We tried to keep the rabbits inside the house but soon found that they like to chew on anything and everything.  So, they needed to be caged just about all the time except under vigilant supervision.  I personally don’t like to see an animal caged too much and so, as my frustration rose at their furniture destruction, I cast about for an equitable solution.  I wanted to be happy, and I wanted the rabbits to be happy, too.

The solution was to give them my herb garden and a small part of my garage.  I would get the house.  A pet door allows them to move from the herb garden outside to inside the garage where they enter a small caged area with litter pan, hay box, and feeding area with available water.   They do not have access to my garage except for this small enclosed area.  Here is a picture showing the setup.

Since these rabbits never come into my house anymore, it
is important that they have a safe and warm place to go.  My garage stays above 50 degrees even on the
coldest nights of the year.   I was told
by the rescue group that rabbits tolerate cold much better than heat.  On the coldest and rainiest days, I’ve gone
out to the garage to check on them and they are nowhere to be seen.  They are outside enjoying the weather.

Now about the outside enclosure.  I hastily put it together using wire fencing.  I buried the fence 4 inches or so below ground level and just hoped they wouldn’t try to dig their way out – and they haven’t.  They are quite content to stay within their enclosure and dig holes and forage.  If the occasional wild rabbit visits, they energetically chase them away.  Rabbits, it turns out, are protective of their home turf.  Here is the outside enclosure with the pet door in the back corner near where the shovels are leaning against the house.  Now, what about all that brush?

Okay.  Here is the best part.  You’ve not only rescued a couple rabbits and given them a good home.  You now get to put them to work in your garden creating a virtuous cycle.  Here is how to do it.  Pick all your weeds, especially the nasty thorny ones, and throw them into the rabbit pen.  Be sure to NOT use any pesticides on your weeds!  Those weeds need to go into the trash.  As you cut brush back in the spring and fall, throw all those woody branches into the pen as well.  Rabbits will chew on the bark and gnaw on the branches reducing a lot of the brush down.  And, rabbits love dried leaves so throw piles of them into the pen as well.  When there is plenty of fresh matter like I described above, you can cut back on their food rations because, as you’ll notice, they just stop eating as much kibble what with all the great sticks and weeds.  Then, wait for your payoff.

Rabbits will complete the virtuous cycle by peeing and pooping out this amazing fertilizer that is mild and great for your garden.  Once a year in the spring, I get into their pen with a shovel and remove wheelbarrows full of urine-soaked muck, chock-full of rabbit pellets, and literally crawling with worms.  Here is a picture showing some worms and all the pellets.

This delicious (well, delicious to my tomato plants
anyway) muck is spread among my planting beds. 
And, the cycle is now complete. 
Not only have the rabbits helped me by reducing the amount of brushy
material I would have to bag and dispose of at the landfill, they have also
increased my vegetable yield.  We have
achieved a nice little balanced relationship where they are happy, and I am
happy.

Glenda and Grover are friendly and happy bunnies.  We enjoy watching them in their space, and encourage anyone to adopt rabbits and put them to work in your garden.

Bye bye bunnies!

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What Are Pros And Cons Of Garden Art Décor

Have you ever surveyed your garden and thought “something is missing” but were uncertain what that “something” should be? The answer may not lie with another plant or tree but, rather, with some strategically placed garden décor. The choices for garden décor are just as diverse and numerous as those in the plant world and can add that element of fun and whimsy you were looking for. As with anything, however, too much of a good thing can rob your garden of its whimsical appeal. For this reason, it’s important to consider your garden art pros vs. the cons of garden art décor. This article should help with that.

Pros – Garden Décor Positives

(Shelley’s viewpoint) I feel there are many benefits of garden art in the landscape. Here are some of my garden art pros:

Let your personality shine. A garden is uniquely your own and should be a reflection of you! Garden décor actually gives you more opportunity for self-expression than plants. There is gardening décor available to match every interest imaginable. For instance, I am fond of trolls. A quick Google search reveals seemingly limitless options for troll garden statues and planters.

Budget friendly. While there are lots of high-end gardening décor options out there with discouraging price tags, garden décor doesn’t necessarily have to be a budget buster. Yard sales, second hand stores and even your local dollar store are good places to check out for budget-friendly options. You can also repurpose items already in your home for use in the garden, such as transforming a bowling ball into a garden globe.

Adds winter interest. Let’s face it. A winter garden can leave much to be desired. The vibrancy and color of peak gardening season has now browned and withered away and been replaced with a blanket of snow. Garden décor brings interest to a dreary winter landscape with a splash of color, form or texture.

It’s a problem solver. Garden décor could be the solution for your gardening dilemmas, turning your garden from “meh” to a masterpiece. It can be used to lend contrast or add harmony to the landscape. It can be used as a focal point to draw you into the garden for a closer look. It can also bring a color palette to your garden that isn’t available in the natural world. The possibilities are endless!

Mark your plantings. Have you ever accidentally damaged or unearthed freshly planted bulbs or dormant plants? Yeah, me neither. (wink) There are many creative garden décor options for marking plantings that do not require a popsicle stick! Painted rocks, for example, make wonderful garden markers. But, if you’re not feeling artsy, there are fanciful stakes that you can buy to mark your plantings.

Cons – Reasons Against Garden Art

(Darcy’s viewpoint) Every town has that one house that sticks out like a sore thumb. Whether it be over-the-top, tacky holiday decorations, a plethora of signs supporting sports teams or politicians, or those dated wooden cut outs of a bent over grandma’s polka dot skirt with her pantaloons showing, we’ve all seen a home with distracting yard décor. Before purchasing that whimsical little gnome, it is wise to carefully consider the drawbacks of garden art. With all the hours you put into perfecting your landscape and garden, you don’t want to be that yard that all the neighbors are whispering about. In addition to being gawdy, here are a couple more reasons against garden art:

It can be distracting. One of the biggest cons of garden art décor is that it can over power or distract from the garden itself. If your rare and expensive prized tree peony in full bloom never even gets a glance but every guest to your garden comments on your collection of plastic pink flamingos, then your garden may be conveying the wrong message.

Expensive and requires maintenance. Just like adding new plants to the garden, garden décor will require additional time and expenses in care and maintenance. Plastic and resin décor can bleach in the sun, become brittle and crack; wood needs to be re-painted or stained and also swells, warps, and cracks when exposed to the elements; ceramic and terra cotta weaken and shatter easily; even cement, stone and iron weather when left out in the elements and need care and maintenance. In some climates, you may even need to store different types of garden art indoors for winter protection. This can be very challenging with heavy stone or cement statuary.

Do the Benefits Outweigh Drawbacks of Garden Art?

Before purchasing garden décor, you should carefully weigh out the pros and cons of garden art décor in your garden. Consider how much time you have for maintenance. Wood staining and rust protection can become an extra annual chore in some climates. Our gardens should convey our unique personalities, but they should also feel like our own personal sanctuary. If yours has become just a list of chores and tasks, it may be time to simplify. And for those who feel that garden décor upstages the plants in the garden, which may be true when a garden is overloaded ornaments, keep in mind that “less is more.” With carefully selected, well-placed garden décor, it will enhance a garden space instead.

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Work Gloves That Work Just as Hard as You Do

Women work
hard, both in the home and outside, whether it’s the garden or at their job. We
don’t mind getting our hands dirty when the task calls for it, but it’s still
important that they look good when we’re done. That’s why it helps to wear
gloves when the tougher jobs are necessary. There are many great gardening
gloves that perform just fine for smaller tasks, like planting or weeding, but
for those larger ones, a good pair of work gloves is what you need – and,
preferably, one pair that can do both.

Dovetail Multi-Purpose Work Glove

I normally
prefer the feel of dirt and muck in my fingers when I’m in the garden. That
being said, it helps to wear gloves when pruning shrubs (especially roses),
handling possible irritants, or performing landscape work. Although I can
borrow my husband’s work gloves in a pinch, they’re usually way too bulky,
heavy and hot. It’s harder to get a good grasp on something. It feels like I’m
lifting weights every time I move my hands, and it’s equivalent to sticking
your hands in an oven after a while. In times like this, I’ve often wondered if
there’s a better option – work gloves for women that toil just as hard but
without the bulkiness or other issues.

Indeed, there is! The Dovetail Multi-Purpose Work Glove is exactly what we gals need, be it in the garden, in the home or on the job. They are perfectly designed to fit women so they’re not at all bulky. In fact, these gloves have high dexterity so you can easily grab onto things, including weeds. They’re even designed with touch screen sensitive index fingers so you can use the phone whenever necessary (like when the kids call or text you for nearly every little thing). I love that they’re lightweight too, but made with reinforced panels that still give them that extra “oomph.” Probably one of the best things about the gloves is the fact that they’re breathable…no more sweaty hands!

With these multi-purpose work gloves, I can use them
for routine garden maintenance where moderate hand protection in warranted as
well as for those bigger chores where tougher safety measures
should be taken. In fact, I recently used them while edging a new area with
landscape stones, which can tear your hands to pieces. These had also been
piled up next to the house and it’s not a good idea to pick them up without
gloves since black widows are common around here and love hiding in spots like
this. Not any glove will do, though. It has to be thick enough to guard against
bites or pricks. Trust me when I say you don’t want a bite from one of these
venomous spiders.

I also wore
my new gloves when clearing out an area of the landscape filled with poison ivy
– definitely don’t want to get covered in that itchy rash. And since the gloves
are washable, there’s no need in worrying about reusing them afterward. Good as
new for tackling more projects.

We ladies want to look nice but we also want to be comfortable at the same time. And, just as with our clothing, we appreciate work gloves that fit well and move with us too. Women work hard and deserve workwear that works just as hard. Dovetail has achieved that with work clothes and accessories aimed at women.

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Backyard Landscaping Tips for Summer

As
we plan our summer gardens and growing spaces, it’s always great to base your
plantings on a design that will serve as the bones of your beautiful backyard,
front yard or small plot. Thinking of going it alone? Let a landscaping contractor
help.

You
may be an expert with soil and plants, but there’s a lot more to it, right? Sometimes,
merely establishing the layout seems a daunting challenge, not to mention constructing
a walkway or building a retaining wall. You may have a vague idea of what you
want, but do you know how to plan and create it? And do you know how to build
sustainable green spaces? Sometimes, there’s just nothing better than calling
in an expert.

Start
at the Beginning

Everyone
has a different set of circumstances and needs. Depending on your location, your
budget, your aesthetics – even your desire for practical growing space versus
décor – it’s super important to develop a realistic, serviceable plan, either
on paper or screen. Many landscape companies, like M.E.
Contracting, have professional planners and designers that will
sit down and map out your space to help you understand how to make the very
best of the various areas you have available. There’s so much to learn.

Developing
a plan involves deciding the most practical and beautiful way to set up your
space. A landscape architect will look at the shape of your land, available
water sources, spots where shade and sun are needed, and where you’d like a
touch of aesthetic appeal. If you don’t know all these things already, an
experienced landscaping contractor is amazing at helping you make these decisions.

Hardscape,
Softscape and Water

Hardscape is more about the surrounding structures – walkways, garden paths, decks, driveways and patios. Landscaping companies such as M.E. Contracting will advise you on how to get the most out of your yard’s various environments, like sunny areas, wet spaces, shaded spots and designated relaxing spaces.

Softscape
– what a lovely word – is all about the available yard, acreage or plot – the
earth that you have available to plant growing things. You can talk with your
expert about flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables and how to use your
softscape efficiently. If you have ecological concerns, these are the folks to
talk to.

Your landscaping contractor may suggest irrigation systems that will help you cut down on the task of keeping each area properly watered. Irrigation systems can be a godsend in dry or hot areas, or for people who work away from home.

Watch
it Evolve

Once
you and your landscape expert have formulated the perfect plan for your yard, a
whole team of landscaping professionals
will come in and make the magic happen. You can stand back and look at the
gorgeous environment you’ve co-created with your contractor, and choose whether
you want ongoing service or whether you’re all set to manage your grounds
yourself.

Regardless,
it never hurts to get a little expert help for a beautiful and successful
gardening season.

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Q&A with Kelly Smith Trimble, author of “Vegetable Gardening Wisdom”

As a home, garden, and travel writer and editor, Kelly Smith Trimble has worked for major lifestyle brands such as HGTV, Travel Channel, Lowe’s, Southern Living, Bonnie Plants, and the National Park Foundation. A master gardener, Kelly grows vegetables, herbs, and flowers in her suburban backyard in east Tennessee. In her latest book, Vegetable Gardening Wisdom, Trimble offers a book of tips and inspiration aimed at empowering new gardeners to grow food. Read on to learn more and enter below to win one of three copies from Storey Publishing!

What was that “lightbulb” moment when you realized the importance and joy of growing your own food?

I had lightbulb moments in college when reading about food ethics as it relates to the environment, which I write a little about in my introduction to the book, but I wasn’t really able to transfer those philosophical
shifts into personal action as vegetable gardening until a few years later, when I had my own space in which to grow. I did a little volunteering with urban farms and farmers markets, but the more personal, tangible, hands-in-ground experiences came gradually.
The first time I ate something I grew, the first time I served something I grew to others — these events happened but I don’t remember them really specifically. The recognition that experience and knowledge add up as they are collected over time is a key tenet
of this book because it has really been true for me.

You mention wanting your book to help others develop a lifelong love of gardening. What else do you hope they will take away from it?

I hope they’ll discover some tips that will help them successfully grow something they’ve always wanted to grow. Having a little success growing a vegetable you really love to eat can be pretty meaningful.
Along the same lines, understanding how much time, effort, and knowledge goes into growing something you really love can make you appreciate it all the more, whether you grew it or not.

I also hope this book will help others, whether beginner or seasoned gardeners, develop a daily practice of gardening. This means spending a little time every day checking in on the garden and doing activities
like weeding, watering, planting, and harvesting. To me, this daily practice is not only a good way to approach gardening, in part so that it doesn’t become overwhelming, but also a way for gardeners to develop an intimate relationship with their gardens that
helps them be successful and also harvest the more spiritual and emotional benefits.

The advice you give is great for each season. What keeps you motivated throughout the entire season from beginning to end?

The potential harvest is definitely a motivator. Even though gardening in the heat of July and August isn’t my favorite, I keep at it because of all the amazing vegetables ripening at that time: tomatoes,
peppers, corn, cucumbers, squash, beans, and more. It’s such a time of abundance, but it’s also a time when I’d be equally happy jumping in a lake every chance I get. My hope is that efforts made earlier in the season, such as enriching the soil so that it
can feed plants, will pay off and make summer a little easier.

On the flip side, it’s not hard for me to get motivated in spring. It’s more an issue of tempering excitement so that I don’t plant everything too early. Same story goes for fall. I love fall crops, but in
my climate where it can stay hot through October, I sometimes need to wait a little to get them in.

Also, having made gardening a part of my daily life, something that truly brings me joy, it’s something I really miss in the slower seasons like winter. So even though there are certainly days where I feel
less like getting out there than others, like maybe after a long day at the office, overall, it’s something I really look forward to doing rather than something I dread, no matter the season.

Describe your first garden…where was it, what did you grow, and how did it inspire you to grow more?

I think the first time I grew food on my own was at my condo in Birmingham when I was probably 25 or so. It was actually the first time I didn’t have the ability to step right out onto ground from my door
— I was on the third floor with a tiny balcony but no actual soil or sunlight. I know that for many people, this is completely normal, but it was new to me. I loved my space but I didn’t like that part of it, so I started trying to grow in containers at the
ground level, primarily in the back of the building which was a parking area. I grew tomatoes and peppers and it went pretty well, but I quickly wanted more space, which is partly what led me to sell my condo and buy my first house a couple years later.

Do you have a favorite gardening tip from this book and why?

Choosing a favorite tip is really hard. One of my favorite quotes relates to a collection of important tips, and that’s Eleanor Perényi’s quote on page 78 about compost and mulch. Beyond her subtle humor, which I love, I agree with her that subjects like soil and mulch may seem boring, especially to new gardeners, but are actually the most important elements of a garden, particularly an organic garden. So, I definitely hope readers pay attention to those tips, most of which are in the late winter and spring sections.

Are there any specific vegetables or herbs you would recommend for gardeners just starting out?

I definitely recommend growing lettuce and other greens, especially in spring and fall. It’s really so easy to grow these yourself and get a taste of gardening while also saving money on groceries. Mint is
foolproof, and it’s especially fun to grow for including in cocktails like mojitos and juleps — some people consider it invasive, and it can be, but I love how it smells and using it in all kinds of dishes, so I don’t mind managing it. Both mint and lettuce
will grow easily in containers, too. I also recommend trying to grow your own garlic. Not only is it easy, but it’s also really eye-opening to see that whole garlic bulbs grow out of individual garlic cloves — for me, growing garlic the first time was a botanical
revelation. 

Enter to win one of three copies of Vegetable Gardening Wisdom!

 

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight (EST) on Sunday, June 24, 2019 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Which vegetable would you like to learn more about?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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Back EZ Gardening Anyone Can Do

You don’t have to be old or injured to want your tools to work for you rather than against you. There is a saying, “work smart, not hard” that is applicable to any age and any situation. Take gardening, for example. Some gardening tasks are simple and require little effort, but the majority are labor intensive and can make aches and pains spring up instantly, even where there were none before. Back EZ, however, provides a versatile solution that can adapt effortlessly to a variety of tools and simplify any job.

Standard shovels, rakes, hoes and other tools used in the landscape are necessary for gardening but aren’t always a friend to your back and muscles. The way they are designed requires maximum effort on the gardener’s part and can cause painful muscles, pulls and sprains. Instead of purchasing new equipment, which can be costly and may not even be as user-friendly, try Back EZ ergonomic handles. This simple solution can save your back and your pocketbook.

Back
EZ’s ergonomic tool grip is an easy to attach handle that is designed to help
remove some of the strain from outdoor work. It attaches quickly to hoes, shovels,
rakes, power washers, painting poles, and more. The handle allows the user to
grip the tool higher on the shaft, promoting better posture and providing
better leverage. The design reduces the need to bend the back by 30% and decreases
compression in the lower back by 15%. You can use the tool either in the left
or right hand. By reducing back bend by up to 10 inches (25 cm.), you can
easily do the same job but with less effort!

The
handle attaches to almost any long pole tool in under a minute. It is made of
glass fiber reinforced resin that is as strong as steel. Built to last, the
Back EZ has been tested in a wide variety of environments, from Arctic to
desert. It is lightweight and fits on any position of the pole with the aid of the
provided hex key. Simply slide it over the handle and tighten the screw. The
handle is also easily adjustable to fit any size user and arm length for better
comfort. Move it quickly from tool to tool for those big outdoor jobs.

Back EZ is perfect for arthritis or back pain sufferers, but you don’t have to wait for an injury to use it now. Prevent future strains and damage with the handle and by practicing safe movements.  Using both hands on your rake or other device will also reduce the chances of damage to your hands and wrists. The ergonomic design will benefit users in all seasons, whether snow shoveling or raking. It even has indoor benefits where a long-handled paint tool is required, while vacuuming, or for use with a poled light bulb changer. Extend your reach, reduce strain, say goodbye to blisters, and make any job easier with Back EZ handles

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5 Gardening Gadgets To Make Dad Smile

Lots of dads either have a green thumb or else wish they did. So take advantage of the fact that Father’s Day arrives in the middle of growing season and go for a gardening gift. There are lots of cute gardening gadgets out there that are sure to add some fun to the occasion. If you aren’t sure where to begin to look for cool backyard gifts for dad, just keep reading. We’ve sorted out a few great items you can consider.Here are 5 gardening gadgets to make Dad smile:

1. Front row seat – Not every front row seat involves a baseball game. Dad’s knees will thank you, and his back might as well, if you present him with a garden seat. These low seats make weeding and planting easier on the body. Pick something lightweight so that he can tote it around from bed to bed. You can even find stools with a built-in gardening tool bag to make the entire process simple and fun.

2. Easy wheelbarrowing – If your backyard doesn’t have a wheelbarrow to call its own, dad is sure to appreciate any type of push-along cart for carrying soil,compost or landscape supplies. But your dad is special, so why not opt for a motorized wheelbarrow? This power-assisted wheelbarrow lets dad move up to 200 lbs. of material with its battery-operated drive system and forward and reverse push-button controls.

3. Dad’s favorite herbs – Having an herb garden with favorites available for clipping is always great. But not everybody’s list of favorite herbs is the same. A personalized herb garden is a great bet for brightening up dad’s Father’s Day, and making for delicious dinners in the future. Buy a container – maybe one with wheels – and load it up with his short list, or buy one you can order and personalize.

4. New garden tools – Every gardener appreciates a new, good quality set of basic gardening tools. Even if dad has a working assortment, you could bulk up his collection with a few new items. Look for sets with real wood and stainless steel.

5. Sun hat – Don’t mix up a gardener’s all-weather hat with a sunbonnet. These days, nobody should get full sun on his face or neck or get a sunburn. Find an attractive, big-brimmed hat to provide protection from both sun and rain.

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Hand and Sun Protection in the Garden

Do you
avoid gardening because it wreaks havoc on your skin and nails?

All
gardeners know that gloves are an essential part of getting work done outside. But
the standard gardening glove will not protect a manicure at all. If you’re an
avid gardener, you know the fingertips of most gloves often allow dirt and
grime into our nails when we’re doing a lot of vigorous hands-on work outside –
which most of us do. How many manicures have you ruined in the garden? How can
you be both a well-groomed woman and still garden to your heart’s content?

And
speaking of protection, when you’re spending hours outside in the beautiful
sunshine, how do you know when your sunscreen is petering out? As dedicated
gardeners, let’s take a look at two self-care issues for happy gardening.

Our Nails
and Hands

It’s
lovely to work in the soil, and it’s even been proven that it makes us feel
good. But all that touchy-feely work in garden soil draws the natural moisture
from our fingertips and simply trashes our fingernails. Natural nails can
become frail and thin. Dirt and sap can work their way into the nails, often
causing a permanent stain. And if you’re a person who keeps your fingernails
perfectly manicured, gardening can become a very expensive hobby.

The happy-lifestyle folks at Dig It Apparel, however, have designed a pair of durable, breathable garden gloves that not only protect your skin, but provide a cushion of safety for your fingernails. Built into the fingertips of Dig It® Garden Utility Gloves is an industrial-design, patented Pillow Top Protector™ that preserves your perfect manicure while you’re out there toiling in the soil – giving you the freedom to dig deep.

A favorite of dedicated gardeners, these comfy gloves protect your hands from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Not just scaled down men’s utility gloves, they’re great for everyone in the family. These amazing gloves are available in two styles and four colors, and can be purchased at major home centers or online. We all need to be aware of the potentially damaging effects of too much sun exposure.

Our Skin

The people
at Dig It® have also been busy thinking up new ways to keep our weekend-warriors’
skin safe and beautiful. Here’s something you may not have considered: When
you’re out in the sun for hours, your sunscreen will eventually give out. Unless
you have divine guidance, you don’t really know when it’s time to reapply it,
right?

Dig It® has created a breakthrough UVA/UVB Sensor Dot that changes color when you need more sunscreen. Dig It In The Sun™ UVA/UVB Sensor Dots let you know when your sunscreen’s effectiveness is diminishing so you’ll be protected from nasty sunburn, giving you the freedom to enjoy the sun. It’s your sunscreen’s new BFF! Pretty brilliant.

The dots
mimic the skin. Made in the U.S, they’re hypoallergenic, paraben free and
approved by dermatologists and pediatricians. You won’t even know you’re
wearing it until it turns purple to alert you that it’s time to slather on more
sunscreen. Available
in packs of 8, 20 and 30, these innovative sensor dots can be found online or
at select retailers.

We are such multi-faceted beings. We can work in the garden like the burliest farmer, and go to a lovely dinner groomed to the max. Don’t forget as you work the earth that you can be both these people. Protect your nails and skin with these groundbreaking products from Dig It Apparel – check out their Where to Buy section of the website for locations of retailers near you.

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Scabiosa Plant History: Learn About Heirloom Scabiosa Plants

Several years ago, I used to work for a county I.T. department. One of my assigned departments was the Sheriff’s department. I not only serviced computers in the administrative wing but also within the recesses of the county jail where correction officers were stationed. I’ll never forget overhearing a conversation between two correction officers about a scabies outbreak that had broken out in the jail. I remember being uneasy, thinking “should I even be down here?”

For those that do not know what scabies is, it’s a skin infestation by a human itch mite. They burrow under your skin and lay eggs. This is one of those afflictions that have plagued humankind for the better part of 2,500 years. Keep reading to learn what this problem has in common with the Scabiosa plant.

Scabiosa Plant History

So, when I started researching the history of Scabiosa plant,
I couldn’t help but think of this blast from my past because the spelling and
phonetical pronunciation of this plant kind of reminded me of scabies. As it
turns out, this is no coincidence, as the name ‘Scabiosa’ actually derives from
the Latin word scabere, which means “to scratch” and people with scabies
scratch.

The use of Scabiosa plant to treat scabies hearkens back to
medieval times. Many sources suggest that the rough leaves of the plant may
have been used to scratch the infernal scabies itch. In the mid-16th
century, it was incorporated into an herbal remedy that included fresh fennel
and marshmallow, all boiled into a brew that a scabies infected person would
soak in. In the 17th century, the root of Scabiosa was prescribed in
an ointment by Nicholas Culpepper to treat wounds, swollen throats, snake bites
and the plague.

Heirloom Scabiosa plants are native to Europe and Asia. They
were introduced to New England and traversed the northern states by the British
colonists who valued the plant’s medicinal properties. There are about 80
species of Scabiosa in existence, covering perennial, annual and biennial
varieties.

I realize that this history of Scabiosa plant has probably
given you the heebie-jeebies, so I will tell you a bit more so that your major
takeaway about Scabiosa isn’t just that it’s “the scabies plant.” While the
medicinal efficacy of Scabiosa is questionable, its value as an ornamental
definitely is not – they are beauties in the garden.

Heirloom Scabiosa plants are commonly referred to as pincushion
flowers. If you have experience with a thread and needle, you can appreciate
why. The blossoms, which are held high above tall, slim stems, look like round pincushions
with pearl-headed pins (the stamens) sticking out of them. The color palette
for Scabiosa flowers is diverse, with blossoms in blue, purple and white being
the most common. And there’s more. Scabiosa plants also have a reputation as
being a great pollinator plant – butterflies, in particular, seem to really
favor them.

So the next time you are itching for a new addition to your
flower garden (yes, bad scabies pun), consider the Scabiosa plant – they are
beautiful plants for pollinators.

The post Scabiosa Plant History: Learn About Heirloom Scabiosa Plants appeared first on Gardening Know How’s Blog.

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Lava Soap: Cutting Through Dirt and Grime for More Than 125 Years

The crimson
red package with its familiar volcano in the background was a constant in my
life as far back as I can remember. It’s been such a fixture, although I hadn’t
thought for a long while about why it’s called Lava. It was in my mother’s
washroom, my father’s shop, and now in my garden tub. Since childhood, I’ve
always known Lava to be the best soap on the market for anyone who works around
soil, plants, sap, fertilizers, lawnmower engines… and really, any other dirty
stuff.

This post is sponsored by Lava® Soap

Why is Lava the Perfect Gardeners’ Soap?

The ingredient in Lava® Soap that creates its lather is derived from humble coconut oil, but its real cleansing magic comes from fine volcanic pumice. When partnered with gentle suds, pumice has a knack for accessing your hands’ tiniest creases, lifting out dirt and grime easily and quickly from palms, knuckles and nails. It rinses off with no gooey after-feel…just clean and fresh.

Lava
Soap isn’t just for rough farmhand skin, either. Softening agents keep your
hands from becoming dry and callused, even after an all-day weeding binge in
your garden. The fragrance isn’t gender-biased, but simply smells clean.

Let’s
be honest – even the best gardeners have moments when we’re forced to peel off
our gloves and do something with bare hands. Even gloves don’t always keep the
dirt out. As for me, being knee-deep in a project involving soil can distract
me for hours when, suddenly, I realize it’s time to fix food or run an errand –
and I see my hands are deeply filthy. This is when I appreciate this old
standby the most. I don’t have to soak, scrape or toxify my hands to get them
clean enough to switch gears.

You
won’t find many potent hand soaps that will exfoliate your skin without using
harsh chemicals. Natural volcanic pumice ground to a soft, fine abrasive powder
deep cleans the parts of your body that work the hardest – your hands! Here’s
an interesting fact: Skin pH is about 4-5, whether it is on your hands or your
face. Lava Soap’s higher pH of 9.4 helps to easily remove oils and grease from
the skin.

History – Our Best Teacher

Lava
has been on the market in this country since the late 19th century –
1893 to be exact. In those days, home gardeners undoubtedly worked harder and
got dirtier than we can even imagine. The reason it’s endured for more than a
hundred years? The ingredients have remained virtually unchanged for more than
a century. It’s still the perfectly simple, hard-working product it was back
then.

Bringing this reliable, old-fashioned hand soap to your gardening day somehow makes it seem richer and even a bit nostalgic. I hope I’ll have great-grandchildren who’ll remember me many years from now when they wash up after a good day in the garden. Here’s to clean hands and happy memories – Lava® Soap provides both!

You can find Lava Soap at a Walmart store near you in the beauty aisle. You can also download a coupon here. Be sure to follow Lava Soap on Facebook for more great gardening tips.

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Top 10 Questions About Grapevines

Here at Gardening Know
How
we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to
those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. Growing grapes
in the landscape is a popular endeavor for many gardeners, and one that
includes many issues. As a result, we receive a number of questions about grapevines
in the garden
. Here are the top ten.

1. What type of soil is best for growing grapevines?

Growing
grapevines
prefer a well-draining sandy loam with a pH of 5.5-6.5. That
said, grapes are fairly tolerant of their soil conditions provided they are neither
too alkaline or too acidic, have sufficient organic content and are
well-draining.

2. Can you plant just one grapevine or do you need two?

Almost all commercially produced and grown grapes are self-pollinating.
This means that they do not require another grape to set fruit. Wild grapes, on
the other hand, usually require a male and a female plant to produce grapes. If
you have the space though, plant two just for variety.

3. How to prune grapevines?

Grapes
should always be pruned
during their dormant period in the winter. In order
to promote fruiting, be brave and prune hard. Be sure to cut off as much of the
old wood as possible, which will, in turn, encourage production of new shoots
and vines upon which the fruit is produced. When pruning grapes that require
winter protection, the goal is to prune into one horizontal trunk that can
easily be removed from the support structure. Otherwise, remove all growth
except new fruiting canes and renewal spurs. Select a branch and cut it back
3-4 feet (around a meter), leaving at least a two-bud renewal spur. Tie this
cane to the support and remove all other canes. At the end of the growing
season, cut off the old trunk just below the renewal cane.

4. What to use to fertilize your grapevines?

Grapes have a deeply growing root
system and, as a result, unless your soil is very poor, usually require very
little additional fertilizer. The only way to really be sure is to do a soil
test; grapes like a pH of 5.5-7.0, so amend accordingly. Thereafter, give the
vine a light fertilization with an all-purpose 10-10-10 food at the rate of no
more than ¼ pound (113 g.) applied in a circle 4 feet away from each vine. If
you would rather use manure, apply 5-10 pounds (2-4.5 kg.) of poultry or rabbit
or 5-20 pounds (2-9kg.) of steer or cow manure per vine. Urea, ammonium nitrate
and ammonium sulfate can also be used to fertilize the grape after the vine has
bloomed. Fertilize
grapes
just when buds emerge in the spring.

5. How soon after planting will you have grapes to harvest?

Grapevines do not usually produce their first year, although
it depends on how old the vine was when purchased. Generally, grapes begin
producing in their second year but these should be snipped off to allow the vine
to focus on strengthening its root system. By the third year, a healthy vine
should be producing grapes for harvesting.

6. How do I get vines to produce grapes?

A grapevine that is not producing could be the result of
several of factors. It could be that the soil pH doesn’t suit the vine; grapes
like a pH of 5.5-7.0. They also do not like soil that doesn’t drain well or has
a surfeit of nitrogen. Do a soil test and then amend the soil if necessary. It
may be that the vine does not get sufficient light. Pruning hard will go a long
way to giving the vine access to more light and a hard prune actually
encourages growth. Most hard pruning should be done every winter when the plant
is dormant, but some cultivars such as Concord, Crimson Seedless, and Thompson
seedless are cane pruned in the spring and early summer. Most grapes are
self-pollinated, but there are a few that require a partner or they will not
produce. If your grape is a Riverbank grape or Muscadine,
it needs partner in order to produce grapes.

7. How do I move my grapevine to another location?

Grapevines have deep tenacious roots, so if you need to move
the vine, you will either need a backhoe or a strong back and a willingness to
sweat. If you are up for it, the best time to transplant
a grapevine
is in the fall or early spring. Cut the vine back to 8 inches (20
cm.) from the ground. Dig around the trunk to locate the peripheral roots and
then start digging them free from the soil. Once these outer roots have been
freed, dig a deep vertical trench around the vine and lever it from the earth.
Move the vine to a hole that is twice as wide as the root system. Loosen the
soil at the bottom of the hole to accommodate the roots and then fill in. Water
the vine frequently as it establishes.

8. How do treat black rot of grapes?

Black
rot of grapes
should be treated between bud break until around four weeks
after bloom. Use Captan or Myclobutanil fungicides. Otherwise, prevention is
the best management option. Remove any mummy grapes and all grape detritus from
the ground in the fall. Prune out any afflicted vines and don’t be afraid to
prune heavily. In the spring, if any lesions pop up, remove them ASAP and begin
fungicide applications.

9. How grow grapes in a pot?

Grapes
grow quite well in containers
if you follow a few guidelines. First of all,
you need a container that is at least 15 gallons with drainage holes. The
container can be made of almost anything but keep in mind that some materials
absorb heat and might make the roots of the plant too hot. Next, you need a
sturdy trellis or other support. Now you just need to plant your grape. Grapes
are tolerant of most soil types but prefer a well-draining, sandy loam with a
pH of 5.5-6.5. Grapes do not need additional fertilizer, but if you do decide
to feed the vine, do so with a low nitrogen food. Keep the container
consistently moist.

10. How to winterize grapevines?

Grape
winter protection
depends on your USDA zone. Some areas can get away with
mounding 8 inches (20 cm.) of snow over the vines, while colder regions need to
add insulating mulch like straw or shredded cornstalks to protect the vines. If
your area gets cold but doesn’t snow, the vines should be covered more deeply,
say with a foot or two of soil. Some gardeners go to extremes and actually plant
the vine in a deep trench. As the plant grows, more soil is added. Others use a
shallow trench and the dormant vines are removed from their supports, wrapped
in old blankets or burlap and then placed into a slightly sloped trench lined
with sand. A second layer of protective covering place atop the vines along
with black plastic or insulating fabric and is then secured with soil or rocks.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

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Gardening Know How Sponsorship Recipient: Oak Valley Youth Garden

This year, Gardening Know How’s School and Community Garden Sponsorship Program was fortunate enough to help support 20 gardens with $1,000 each. These gardens represent a wide array of community and school programs, from Florida to Saskatchewan and many places in between. Each has its own unique and powerful story, and we’re excited to share them with you. Every other week we try to highlight one of our sponsorship recipients to help spread the word about how amazing they really are. This week we’re featuring the Oak Valley Youth Garden.

The
Oak Valley Youth Garden started small in 2016. Located in Ripon, California,
the program began by renting plots in a local community garden and opening them
to children from the surrounding schools. Twice a month, kids aged two to
twelve come to work in the garden – planting, maintaining, and harvesting vegetables
for nearby food banks. They also participate in nature-based crafts and try new
vegetables in tasting and cooking demonstrations.

It’s
a great setup, and one that’s had a lot of positive impact on the community.
It’s the only free children’s garden program in the
Central Valley. But it has the potential to be so much more.

That’s
why the Oak Valley Youth Garden is expanding, building its own children’s
garden on a one-acre plot of land centrally located between the four schools it
serves in downtown Ripon. Plans for this new garden include a low-water groundcover lawn area, 15 raised beds, a mini
orchard, and a children’s play area. The program leaders also hope to expand
their children’s programs, offer weekly garden sessions for students, and
double their yearly food bank donations.

Work is already underway, with the
Gardening Know How grant going toward an essential backflow prevention device,
making way for the installation of an irrigation system. Soon the garden beds
will be laid down and the planting can begin!

With the grant from Gardening Know How, the Oak Valley Youth Garden will be able to serve even more children in Ripon while giving back to the community with new green spaces and produce donations. We’re proud to be able to help them realize their dream.

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Q&A with Anna Potter,, author of “The Flower Fix”

Anna Potter is the florist behind the Sheffield flower shop Swallows and Damsons. Her style of arranging has a luxe and wild feel that uses containers of all sorts and moves beyond the confines of blooms in her decoration – incorporating foliage, fruit and vegetables, sea shells and most things that grow out of the ground. In her latest book, The Flower Fix, Potter presents inspiring modern arrangements that will bring a floral boost to your home with 26 tailor-made combinations of flowers. Read on to learn more and enter below to win one of three copies from Quarto Publishing Group.

1.  In your book you talk about the many benefits
of flower arranging.  What does flower arranging mean for you and do for
you on a personal level?

For me, flower arranging is a place somewhere
between chaos and order, where the wild rules and the only thing for me to do
is pick out the tones in a room, position a vase or imagine a narrative.

Over the years my preferred style of arranging
has shifted from using the flowers I like, in the type of vessels I like, to a
less controlled flower-led approach where more attention is paid to the natural
curves and bends of certain flowers that might be better suited somewhere I
wouldn’t have instinctively thought. Flowers I don’t really like to make
arrangements with, when used in new and different ways that reflect their
natural qualities and the environment they are in, are powerful enough to
change an opinion entirely.

2.
How does your book help those looking to play, experiment and create atmosphere
with flowers?

The book describes and suggests many ways we
can be creative and playful with flowers, and helps to think of
outside-of-the-box arrangements and creations.

I spend so much time planning to the very
finest detail weddings, events and the family calendar that every now and then
it feels in equal parts creatively freeing and terrifying when all the spinning
plates stop and all that’s left is some ingredients, a space and world of
possibility. It’s in these times I’m reminded by Carl Jung’s words “The
creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play
instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects
it loves.”

Even if not by default I would recommend to
anyone this practice. An exercise in unplanned creative play, whereby expectations
and preconceived ideas are left at the door. To go as far as even the daring
possibility of not photographing the final piece.

3.
You have owned a florist shop since 2008 – Swallows and Damsons.  Tell us
about your journey to becoming a florist – how did that happen?

My flower journey really began when I was just
a small child, we had a big garden growing up and my Nana used to grow many
different varieties of roses which I used to enjoy picking and pulping the
petals into perfume. I’ve been entranced with flowers ever since.  I completed a degree in Fine Art and after
that was fortunate enough to get a job at a small flower shop in Sheffield. It
was there I realised floristry was the perfect fit for me.  I worked with florists who had differing
styles but eventually began to feel creatively frustrated. I wanted to work in
a more natural, garden style and there was nothing really around like that at
the time. I founded and opened Swallows & Damsons just over ten years ago
so I could create the style of flowers I was drawn to. We still remain a little
shop in the heart of the community creating bunches for all life occasions
whilst reaching a worldwide audience on Instagram and working internationally
on editorials, weddings and commissions.

4. You have an amazing following on Instagram for Swallows and Damsons– 181k followers.  What do you attribute this successful following to?  Why do you think people connect to your photographs the way they do?

Thank you so much. At the time we joined
Instagram it was much different to how we know it now, so timing has really
been on our side. I think engagement on other accounts, quality photography and
creativity, as well as positive messages grounded in reality have all played a
part in our growing following. I think people connect with our photographs
because they’re quite different to other floristry photographs out there.  We only ever use natural light in our
arrangements. I love one directional light, like an old Dutch Masters painting
where half of the arrangement is almost covered in shadow. It adds a mystical
element where the viewer can really use their imagination.

5.
Where are the flowers from your shop Swallows and Damsons sourced from? 
Do you maintain personal flower gardens that you take cuttings from for your
shop? What flowers do you recommend be grown in a personal flower garden for
those wishing to foray into flower arranging?

We use a mixture of wild and foraged and shop
bought blooms. Foraged branches and foliage add a wild and an unruly backdrop
for the more structured blooms. Most of our designs incorporate elements of
both.

I have a small wild unkempt garden at home where
I grow special varieties of flowers that are difficult to get hold of from
flower markets or growers. They have to be kept out of the reach of two
adventurous children who, like myself, are curious and enjoy dissecting them.

Some favourite flowers for arranging of mine
that are grown at home are bearded iris, tulips, dhalias, cosmos and astrantia.

6. 
What are some secrets to making beautiful flower arrangements? 

Flower arranging can be a contemplative practise considering each
stem, its curves and bends, getting to know the weight of a heavy bloom and how
strong its stem is – all have huge implications as to where best to place them
in a design where they’ll best be seen. Working with a natural product is an exercise in letting go of control.
If something happens to it that you don’t expect or even ‘a mistake’ then if
you embrace it and it can lead you somewhere you haven’t planned. The more
controls you impose then the less creative it becomes. You can miss something
new that way.

So much of the media is about creating the
‘perfect’ body, face, lifestyle and this notion is counter to a natural style
of floral design. There’s individuality in a misshapen bloom, potential for
amazing shapes in a wonky stem, detail and pattern in a battered and torn leaf.
The weathering and time worn marks are a testament to the miracle that even
through the harshest conditions of breaking through the dirt and being blown
and beaten in wind and hail or scorched in drought, a bloom in whatever shape
or form is to be celebrated.

So by letting go of what we are told is
desirable, fashionable or something of beauty we are free to create a bouquet
unique to ourselves, whilst celebrating nature’s truly marvellous treasures.

Enter to win one of three copies of The Flower Fix!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight (EST) on Sunday, June 16, 2019 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

What flowers do you feel create the perfect flower arrangement?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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Top 5 Composting Problems and How to Fix Them

Composting is a thing of beauty, unless it’s not. Many folks run into problems when composting. It’s okay, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the top 5 composting problems people come across and how to fix them.

1. Compost isn’t getting hot. Probably the number one problem with composting is that the pile doesn’t heat up, thus it’s doing a whole lot of nothing. There are several reasons for compost not heating up. First off, the pile might be too small. Secondly, the pile may not contain enough moisture. Turn the pile while adding water. Allow it to sit for a few hours and then check it. If need be, add more water until a handful when squeezed contains beads of water. Turning the pile is necessary to help it decompose as is enough nitrogen in the form of grass clippings or food waste. On the other hand, compost that gets too hot can be problematic too.

2. Compost smells bad. Another issue with composting is that the pile smells, which is never pleasant. The nasty odor rotten eggs may be the result of lack of air due to compacting or excess moisture. Turn the pile to add air and dry out. Also, add wood chips or some other carbon bulk to increase air space. If the pile smells more like ammonia, there is probably too much nitrogen in it. The solution is to add carbon material such as leaves or straw.

3. Compost takes too long to decompose. Let’s face it, we’re not always patient and composting takes time. That said, the process will take much less time if proper maintenance is achieved – this includes managing factors such as proper carbon to nitrogen ratio (browns and greens), surface area, aeration, moisture and temperature. Keeping compost ingredients smaller can help with quicker decomposition too.

4. Compost has bugs. Another complaint is that the pile is attracting bugs, typically flies. Well, assuming you are composting in the great outdoors, for the most part this is normal. To minimize the insect issue, turn the pile from the outside toward the inside so it heats up and keep the pile just moist enough so that beads of water can be seen when you do the squeeze test.

5. Compost attracts animals. Lastly, when rats and other animals are interested in the pile, this can become a problem. This means that you have food sources to close to the surface of the pile. Things like food waste should be buried between several inches of carbon material. Also, don’t add waste such as oil, fat, dairy, bones or meat to the pile. The aroma sends a clear signal to wildlife that dinner is served.

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Sun Protective Clothing and Accessories That Give You Peace of Mind

Whether you’re sensitive to sunlight or just looking to protect your skin from the sun’s harsh rays while dabbling in outdoor activities, like gardening, wearing the right clothing or accessories is important, and Coolibar has you covered – literally.

While many of us don our sunglasses and perhaps a hat
when we head outdoors, this isn’t enough. And if you think slathering on all
that sunscreen and going about your business means you’re good to go, think
again. That, too, is still not enough. Wearing sunscreen alone doesn’t protect
you 100% from harmful UV rays. Melanoma is real…and skin cancer is no joke.
Unfortunately, not everyone realizes this. We love being outside and do so
without giving sunlight a second thought – until we have to. The sun doesn’t
discriminate either. Men, women and children are all at risk.

Years of construction work in the blazing sun managed
to catch up with my husband long after he quit, as much as a decade later. He
was diagnosed with melanoma in several areas of his body – his face, back,
hands, arms. Luckily, it was caught early enough to be treated. After years of
gardening, I’ve become well aware of how unfriendly the sun can be with painful
sunburns, sometimes accompanied by blisters. Thankfully, I wised up and now I
try my best to cover up whenever I’m working in the garden.

You may enjoy spending time outdoors, as I often do in the garden, but you need to do so safely. This is where Coolibar can help. They are the first sun protective clothing company to receive the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation with their innovative UPF 50+ products and fabrics that are designed to block 98% of UV rays, and guaranteed to last a lifetime. I’ve used their hats in the garden and continue to do so. Not only do they provide suitable sun protection but they’re comfortable too. And they have plenty of choices across the board so everyone in the family can find something.

Coolibar Zip-Off Visor

Recently, I tried (and even shared with my niece to spread the love) some additional products. While I love the hat I currently have, you can’t go wrong with this Women’s Sports Cap. If you remember my last post, you know I’m not typically a hat person, so if I’m wearing one it needs to fit well and allow my head to breathe at the same time. This hat did both. It’s comfortable and cool, and works well for nearly any outdoor activity. I can wear it in the garden or while running errands AND you have the added bonus of UV protection.

Bel Aire Zip-Off Sun Visor

Of course, if you’re more interested in a sun hat type style, the Bel Aire Zip-Off Sun Visor with a velcro adjustable tab and zip-off crown provides full coverage, especially on those hot sunny days in the garden. And we all know how important skin protection is in the garden.

One of my favorites, though it looks much better on my niece than me, is the Coral Sun Gaitor. This cute lightweight, moisture wicking garment (with Cooltech™ technology) can be worn several different ways to provide optimal sun coverage just where you need it – use as a stylish headband, as a face cover or around your neck.

Wearing the Women’s Performance Sleeves

If you’re looking for sun protection on your arms as you spend time outdoors, especially during sports or other fitness activities, the Women’s Performance Sleeves may be just the thing. They pull on easily with loops for your fingers and thumb, while providing adequate coverage to the backs of your hands.

For everyday leisure anywhere you go, be it walking the dog, gardening, sporting events, or working outdoors, you want to be comfortable and safe. Coolibar offers both with stylish, lightweight clothing and accessories along with the peace of mind in knowing you’re fully protected from the sun. I’ve enjoyed them so much that I have some of their Summer Capris on the way too!

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Ray Padula Keepin’ It Green Giveaway

Ray Padula products are the perfect garden solutions to helping you keep your earth green. In this weekend’s Gardening Know How giveaway (June 7-9, 2019), you have the opportunity to win a prize package from Ray Padula that will assist you in creating the lawn and garden of your dreams. This prize packages features the following products:

  • Ray Padula Heavy Duty 5/8” x 50’ Garden Hose
  • Ray Padula PRO Thumb Control 10-Pattern Metal Nozzle
  • Ray Padula Thumb Control Adjustable nozzle
  • Ray Padula Thumb Control Faucet “Y” Splitter
  • Ray Padula PRO Metal Pulsating Sprinkler on Step Spike
  • Ray Padula Steel hand trowel
  • Ray Padula Spinning Metal Sprinkler

Can’t wait to win? Find out where to buy these great products!

When you think lawn and garden, think one brand. Ray Padula.

How to Enter:

  1. Follow Ray Padula on Instagram.
  2. Locate and “like” the Instagram post on @gardeningknowhow announcing the Ray Padula giveaway.
  3. Tag as many friends as you can on this Instagram giveaway post.  Each tagged friend is an entry!

The contest is open to U.S. participants and will end at 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, June 9, 2019. Winner will be announced on Monday, June 10, 2019.  Winner will be notified through Instagram messenger.  (See rules for more information.)

Connect with Ray Padula:
https://www.raypadula.com

-placead-

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Tips For Finding A Good Landscaping Company

What to Look for in a
Landscaping Company

With over half a million landscaping businesses in the U.S. alone, finding the best company for your needs can be a challenge. You want one who will treat your new home with the care and respect it deserves. Not every successful seeming company will do the kind of job that you’ll be thankful for ten or fifteen years down the line. Before you commit to a company, you should consider the following tips.

Landscaping
is a Broad Area of Knowledge

Not everyone in the landscaping business knows or
specializes in everything. While some have large teams to take care of a
variety of different jobs and tasks, many have natural strength. What type of
work you’re looking to have done will largely influence who you want to hire.

For example, if you require structures built, including retaining walls, ponds, or a significant amount of earth to be moved, you may need to look for a licensed landscape architect. This will help ensure that the work that is done will remain stable and not erode over time or cause drainage issues, etc. Companies that do work of this nature are often referred to as “full service.”

If all you need is minor sculpting, new trees and plants,
or a stone walkway installed, then a landscape designer or
“landscaper” may be sufficient.

In either case, make sure that whichever company or
individual you hire has the right qualifications. These are usually outlined by
the law in a given state. While most landscape architects have both a degree
and are certified by a recognized institution, many landscape designers may
have little to no formal training, depending on state requirements.

Ask About
What Works in Your Area

Before beginning the landscaping process, you may have an
idea of what you want in mind. During the initial consultation with a
landscaping company, you may learn that certain things you would like may not
work in your area. However, they should be able to offer alternatives or
workarounds. The landscape professional you speak with should be an expert on
what will work in your location.

References,
Guarantees, and Safety

There are three questions you must ask during an interview
with a landscaping company:

  • Are you fully bonded and insured? No matter what type of work this
    company will be doing, they must answer “yes” to this question to be
    worth considering.
  • Do you have any guarantees? Many landscaping companies will
    offer to fix small issues that crop up over the first year after a project is
    completed. They may offer to repair cracks, replace frost-shattered pots, and
    remove and replace any plants that hadn’t made it over a season or two.
  • Do you have any references or plans and pictures for
    completed projects?
    To make sure that the company you choose has done similar
    work to what you envision, it may not be a bad idea to ask for proof.

Do They
Offer Services Other Than Major Landscaping?

Will the landscaping company you choose be available for
maintenance work? If not, who would they recommend for this type of thing? Not
everyone is capable or has the time to take care of their landscaping once it
has been installed. Occasionally, a specialist will be needed in case of
disease or unusual weather. Before work begins, it’s important to have care
plans in place.

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Mulberry Plant History: Where Do Mulberries Come From

White mulberries, red mulberries and black mulberries are all utterly delicious fruit, something like a blackberry but harvested from a tree, not a shrub. But berries aren’t the only reason people grow heirloom mulberry trees. Read on to learn about the mulberry plant history as well as the different uses for mulberry leaves.

Where Do Mulberries Come from?

The three different kinds of mulberry trees come from three different parts of the world. You’ll find the white mulberry (Morus alba) growing wild in eastern and central China, but it’s been naturalized for hundreds of years in Europe too.

The red mulberry (Morus rubra) is also called the American mulberry, so you can guess its origins. It’s native to the East Coast of this country, growing wild from Massachusetts to Kansas and down to the Gulf Coast.

Where do mulberries come from if they are black? Black mulberries (Morus nigra) are native to western Asia. Like the white mulberry, the black mulberry has been cultivated in Europe since the Roman times.

Mulberry Plant History

Mulberry plant history goes back a long way. Most of the ancient civilizations of the world cultivated mulberry trees for their delicious berries. They also used the tall trees with spreading canopies for shade trees. Once it was determined that the huge green mulberry leaves could be fed to livestock, the uses for mulberry trees expanded. The leaves of the white mulberry also proved to be excellent food for silkworms in the silk trade.

It was the Romans that brought mulberry trees to Britain when they invaded. They used the trees for medicinal purposes, using mulberry leaves to treat diseases of the mouth, trachea and lungs. By the 17th century, people were also using the roots of mulberry trees to get rid of tapeworms.

It was only after that – during Tudor times – that they became prized in Europe for their succulent berries. It is said that Henry VIII had a mulberry tree planted in his Chelsea estate. Later, King James I decided that Britain should compete with France in silk making. He brought in ten thousand mulberry trees to provide food for the silkworms, planting some in a large mulberry garden near Buckingham Palace. The silkworm project failed because the King bought black mulberry trees instead off the white ones that silkworms like.

And the mulberry fever spread to the new world as well. In 1733, General Oglethorpe decided to encourage silk production at the British colony in Georgia. He ordered hundreds of white mulberry trees to be planted at Fort Frederica for that purpose.

Growing Mulberry Trees

If you want to plant a mulberry tree in your backyard or garden, take care with the size. These trees can grow to 80 feet (24 m.) tall unless you prune them. Mulberry trees thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, depending on the species and cultivar. Grow them in full sun in well-drained, deep loam.

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Getting Snippy in the Garden

Get snippy
with me! It isn’t often that you get encouraged to be snippy, but within the
context of lawn and garden care, I assure you, it is completely okay. Getting
snippy in the garden isn’t about attitude, it’s about having the right tools
for the job. And, I did say tools – plural. Using the same pair of snips for
all gardening tasks can actually damage the blades and spread bacteria. It’s
important to have different tools for different tasks for this reason. Fiskars
has snips created specifically for different activities, whether multipurpose
(like cutting open bags and sawing rope), pruning, or harvesting. 

Fiskars Herb Snips In Use

Harvesting

I love fresh herbs. Fiskars Herb Snips allow me to easily snip off sprigs in the garden then quickly chop and mince leaves directly over the bowl in my kitchen. These snips are very comfortable to use and their sharp blades make effortless clean cuts. No knife or cutting board needed, with the added bonus of being dishwasher safe for easy cleanup!

These snips are compact in size with a blade sheath, making them easy to pop into my garden apron for easy access. When I’m looking to harvest plants with thicker stems and stalks, I opt to use Fiskars Vegetable Shears, which are designed for the more rugged cuts and feature an easy-to-clean take-apart design.

Fiskars Floral Pruner In Use

Pruning

I tend to a lot of flower gardens and enjoy creating flower arrangements, so I needed a pruner that would be great for working with cut flowers and keeping my flower beds healthy. The Fiskars Floral Pruner is well suited for cutting, light pruning and deadheading. It also includes a stem stripper for removing leaves or thorns on various sized stems, up to ½ inch.

Fiskars Curved Micro-Tip Pruning Snips In Use

For more intricate trimming and shaping of plants and flowers, you may elect to use either the Fiskars Micro-Tip® Pruning Shears, Fiskars Curved Micro-Tip® Pruning Snips or the Fiskars Micro-Tip® Pruning Snips. These latter three tools each have their own distinct advantages over the others.

The
Fiskars Micro-Tip Pruning Shears feature extra-large handle loops so that
gardeners with larger hands or gloved gardeners can use them with ease. The
Fiskars Curved Micro-Tip® Pruning Snips and Fiskars Micro-Tip® Pruning Snips
are great for reaching plants in tight spaces, with the curved snips providing
improved reach and a take-apart design for easy cleaning. 

Multipurpose

Have
you ever needed to slice open a bag of soil? Cut some wires or twine? Infiltrate
a newly delivered box of plants or tools? This usually necessitates me running
into my house and scavenging for a pair of paper scissors or a serrated steak
knife (or butter knife if all else fails).

Fiskars Multipurpose Garden Shears In Use

Thanks to Fiskars, I now have two tools dedicated for opening, slicing and cutting tasks: a pair of Multipurpose Shears and Multipurpose Snips. Personally, I favor the Multipurpose Shears for their versatility. The shears come apart for use as a knife and have special notches on the blades for cutting wire, cutting twine and opening bottles. Furthermore, it comes with a sheath and a built-in sharpener.  

With
different snips for different tasks, you will always have the right tool for
the cut with Fiskars, making it easy to get snippy in your garden!   

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Hanging Basket Pros And Cons

If you don’t have much – or any – backyard garden space, your thoughts might turn to hanging baskets. These can work in a small patio container garden or even on a fire escape. And that’s hardly the only hanging basket advantages. But planting in hanging baskets isn’t for every crop or every space. And some gardeners see a number of hanging basket drawbacks. Read on for info on hanging basket pros and cons so you’ll have the info to make up your own informed decision.

Pros – Why Use Hanging Baskets

(Teo’s viewpoint) The question isn’t why use hanging baskets but more like why not? In addition to allowing one to enjoy plants that may otherwise not be able to for lack of space, there are many reasons to add hanging plants to your home and garden. Here are just a few more hanging basket advantages for the gardener to consider:

No worrisome pests. When you use containers that hang to plant flowers, herbs or crops, you create a little planting area that is isolated from the rest of your garden. This allows you to spend more time admiring your handiwork and less time taking care of plant problems. For example, your garden soil can hold many unpleasant surprises. Bugs, slugs and snails are just a few of the pests that lurk at ground level. All these threats can be avoided with hanging baskets. Crawling insects and pests can’t usually leap up to where a basket is suspended. And bigger mammals that take out your plants, like rabbits, raccoons, skunks and even deer, won’t have easy access either.

Less soil problems. Keeping your flowers and veggies in suspended containers is also a quick and easy solution to soil problems. As anyone knows who has planted an in-ground garden, soil can have a host of issues other than bugs. Ideally, fruits, flowers and vegetables prefer well-draining soil that includes some organic material. But backyard soil doesn’t all look like this. Soil can be poor, rocky, overly sandy, highly acidic or alkaline, or composed largely of clay with extremely poor drainage. Yes, with time and energy, you can transform your garden bed, but maybe you don’t have the time right now, or maybe you don’t know how. One of the great hanging basket advantages is that you can buy a sack of organic potting soil and minutes later, your little planting space is ready for crops.

Easy access. Another of the hanging basket pros is the ease of tending plants that see eye to eye with you. No more crawling on your knees to plant, thin or weed. Compact container plantings have few weeds, but any that appear can be readily plucked out while you stand nearby. If you have flowers in your hanging basket, deadheading is easy. If you plant strawberries, harvest is a snap. This makes hanging baskets excellent for children and also seniors who aren’t as flexible as they used to be. Plus, you can move the basket into or out of the sun as the seasons turn.

Cons – Reasons Against Hanging Baskets

(Shelley’s viewpoint) I like hanging baskets just as much as the next person. I’m always tempted, driving by a garden center, to stop and buy one of the hanging baskets beckoning to me. They are pure eye candy, spilling over with colorful, bountiful blooms and lush foliage. I then do a reality check and know that it will be difficult (at least for me) to maintain that splendor throughout the entire growing season, so I take one last wistful look and keep on driving. The next time you’re trying to rationalize a hanging basket purchase, do what I do and think of the reasons against hanging baskets discussed below.

Too high maintenance. Plants in hanging baskets actually need more TLC than plants situated in the ground. This is one of the biggest cons of hanging baskets. Many of us tend to leave hanging baskets…well…hanging! Hanging baskets are not “set it and forget it.” They dry out relatively fast and require frequent watering. They also need to be put on a regular fertilizer schedule because they will deplete the nutrients in the basket’s planting mix rather quickly. Deadheading is another task that you should also be doing routinely to keep the blooms going and healthy. A hanging basket will deteriorate fast and become an eyesore if these tasks are neglected. And, once a basket is in decline, we start feeling guilty, take it down and hide the shameful reminder. Well, that’s what I do anyways!

Vacation care. While a plant sitter is generally a good idea in an extended absence for indoor and outdoor garden plants, it is even more important with hanging baskets, given that they are higher maintenance. This higher level of maintenance does increase the likelihood that you may not return to happy plants in your hanging baskets because, let’s face it, your plants will not receive the same level of attentiveness and care as you provided. So, if you travel a lot, you will want to take hanging basket drawbacks like this into consideration.

Water damage. This is something I never thought about until browsing through some forums on container gardening. If you water hanging baskets on your porch, you may have observed water dripping through the drainage holes onto your porch. Many folks may not realize that wood rot can be caused by this dripping water. While there are solutions on the market for this sort of dilemma, or you could MacGyver something as well, the easiest thing might be to take down your plants and water them off the porch, but that is really not super convenient. Regardless of your approach, you’re either spending additional money for a solution or being inconvenienced several times a week taking hanging baskets down and up again.

Vulnerable to storms and strong winds. Damage to a plant’s leaves, branches and stems can happen if they are whipped against the chains of your hanging basket during a period of storms or strong winds. Furthermore, if a wind is strong enough, it could actually swing your hanging basket hard enough to make it fall to the ground. The obvious solution is to take your hanging basket inside during storms, but storms oftentimes catch us unaware and we don’t think of it until it is too late.

How the Pros vs. Cons of Hanging Baskets Compare

Hanging baskets add visual appeal to any space whether it be your porch, exterior walls, or fence posts. What may not be appealing, however, is the high level of maintenance they require to keep them in top form. If you are prepared for the possible drawbacks that come along with growing your plants in hanging containers though, then this is a great option for plant lovers, especially those with little to no space for a typical garden.

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Patio Umbrellas That Give Gardeners a Break from Working in the Sun

Gardeners love to
be outdoors, and there are few things better than working in the garden with
the sun on your back. Of course, you can have too much of a good thing, and as
much as we all love a sunny day, we also need some shade. A sturdy,
high-quality patio umbrella is a tool every gardener needs for those
much-earned breaks.

Size Matters with Patio Umbrellas

You need enough shade from your umbrella to cover your break area, so check size before choosing one. A 9-foot diameter is a great option. It is not too big for one person to move, put together, and crank open and closed, but it is large enough to provide shade for a 42- to 54-inch table with four to six chairs. So that you don’t have to constantly get up to adjust the circle of shade, you need at least a 9-foot patio umbrella.

Quality Matters Too

A patio umbrella
is a useful tool for gardeners and entertaining, and it should last for years.
Avoid the temptation to choose a cheap umbrella because you will pay for it in
the end when it falls apart or gets blown away in the first year. Choose a
product with heavy-duty fabric that is water repellant and protected from UV
light. The pole should be aluminum so that it is not too heavy, but thick
enough to be sturdy. The umbrella itself should have multiple rips to stand up
to wind and rain.

You Need an Umbrella That is Easy to Use

If a patio
umbrella you purchase is too difficult for one person to manage, you won’t get
much use out of it. Easiest to use are those that include a hand crank. This
makes it easy to open and close the umbrella. It should also have a simple push
button for tilting the umbrella to the side so that you can easily direct the
shade as the sun moves.

Try the Abba Patio Umbrella

Abba is a manufacturer of some of the highest-quality patio furniture available anywhere. Their 9-foot patio umbrella is a perfect choice for gardeners looking to create a shady spot for getting a little rest and a break from the sun.

This umbrella has
all the features you need, is strong and lightweight, and is easy to assemble
and manage, and includes an auto tilt function. The recycled fabric of the
umbrella is waterproof, fade resistant, and comes in multiple colors.

As a gardener, you
know the importance of having the right tools. This umbrella is another one of
your essential tools. Like your shovels, spades, and wheelbarrow, your umbrella
should be of good quality and serve an important purpose. Check out the Abba patio
umbrella to settle on the best product for shade, rest, and backyard
entertaining.

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Gardening Know How Sponsorship Recipient: Dowell Elementary School

This year, Gardening Know How’s School and Community Garden Sponsorship Program was fortunate enough to help support 20 gardens with $1,000 each. These gardens represent a wide array of community and school programs, from Florida to Saskatchewan and many places in between. Each has its own unique and powerful story, and we’re excited to share them with you. Every other week we highlight one of our sponsorship recipients to help spread the word about how amazing they really are. This week we’re featuring the “Let’s play in the dirt” Gardening Club.

A demonstration in the teaching garden

Back in 2015, the Dowell Elementary School in Marietta, Georgia first launched the “Let’s play in the dirt” club, a school-wide initiative for students in grades Pre-K through 5 to experience gardening and healthy eating first hand. Since then its quarter acre of land has grown to include 15 raised beds, a small greenhouse, a compost area, and an outdoor classroom. Teachers integrate the garden into classes whenever they can, and the fruits and vegetables the students grow are prepared and served for lessons on nutrition and alternatives to junk food.

Students plant their spring crops

The garden club is such a success,
in fact, and so impactful on the lives of students, that it only makes sense to
expand it. The club would like to make growing easier, and to make teaching
more fun and involved. With that in mind, the next steps are to install a
dripline irrigation system, and to construct an outdoor area for cooking
demonstrations. That’s where Gardening Know How comes in.

Learning first hand about fresh produce

With the grant from Gardening Know How, the “Let’s play in the dirt” Gardening Club will be able to expand its capabilities, teaching elementary students how to grow, prepare, and eat healthy, locally grown produce.

We’re proud to be able to help them
realize their dream.

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Q&A with Kevin Espiritu, author of “Field Guide to Urban Gardening”

Kevin Espiritu is an urban gardener, plant lover, and the founder of Epic Gardening, a website dedicated to a goal of teaching 10,000,000 people around the world how to grow their own plants. He focuses on practical growing methods and demystifying all of the complex terminology and processes into simple, easy-to-follow guides. In his latest book “Field Guide to Urban Gardening“, Kevin shares the basics of growing plants, offers tips on how to choose the right urban gardening method, and troubleshoots the most common problems you’ll encounter. Read on to learn more and enter below to win a copy from Quarto Publishing Group!

How did you become interested in urban gardening and why do you feel it is important?

I started gardening with my brother about 8 years ago as a fun summer hobby to get outside and spend more time in nature. We bought basil plants at the local nursery and I also (for some reason) decided to grow hydroponic cucumbers. The basil grew incredibly. The cucumbers? Less so. The were horrible! However, I was HOOKED on gardening at that point.

Urban gardening is important simply for the fact that most of us to NOT live in spaces where we can set up vast, sprawling gardens. We have to make do with the space we have, the light we have, and, as busy urban dwellers…the time we have. I like to focus on this segment of gardening because I find it’s often under-valued in the grand scheme of growing plants.

Tell us about your urban gardening set-up? What are you growing and how are you doing it?

I grow in a 15′ x 40′ front yard on a somewhat busy urban street. In my yard, I’m growing in raised beds, 5 gallon buckets, grow bags, in the ground, and vertically using trellises, arches etc. As you can see, I like to cram it in there! It’s my only south-facing outdoor area, so I make the most of it. I also have a side yard where I grow tons of shade crops like leafy greens, herbs, etc. Inside, I’m constantly starting the next batch of seeds in my 3-tier seed starting system that I keep in my bedroom.

Right now, I’m focused on calorically-dense crops like potatoes, beans, and peas. That’s because I’m trying to live off of my own garden for an entire month! So that’s changed my typical gardening planting quite a bit this late Spring / early Summer.

What are some of your personal favorite projects that are featured in this book and why?

It might sound funny, but my favorite projects are the simplest ones. The Sub-Irrigated 2 Liter Bottle and the Dead Simple Raised Bed aren’t fancy, aren’t complex, but they ARE accessible. And that’s what I’m about. I want to make gardening as easy and accessible as possible, instead of overwhelming a beginner with complex building plans and gardening jargon that they don’t understand.

What are some new methods or new things you have learned about urban gardening since this book was published?

Since publishing Field Guide to Urban Gardening, I’ve dug quite a bit deeper into soil health and have experimented quite a bit with microbial and fungal inoculants, as well as commited further to the “no-dig” or “no-till” approach. Even though I’m only growing in raised beds, I find the method to be time-saving and yield-increasing, so it’s become a no-brainer way for me to garden.

How does your book help to inspire and to help those with urban gardening adventures? What are some features that readers will find helpful as they begin an urban gardening journey?

My book is structured in three sections:
Green Thumb Basics: My “teach a man to fish” section. Giving you the “why” instead of the “how”, so you can understand how plants grow from a fundamental level and solve many of your own gardening problems.
Growing Methods: In-depth breakdowns of 6 different gardening methods, including garden plans. No matter how small or large your space, there’s a method for you in this section.
Growing Problems: Did you know 40% of new gardeners never garden a second year? This section is my attempt to lower that number, by including the top pests, diseases, and mistakes you’re likely to run into in the garden.

What tips do you have for beginners just starting on their urban gardening journey?

Only two tips here. First, grow what you like to EAT, not what you think you “should” grow. If you don’t like basil…don’t plant it! Simple as that. Seems obvious, but I’ve gotten countless emails from people struggling to grow plants they don’t even use in the kitchen.

The second tip: start small. There is ALWAYS opportunity to increase the size and complexity of your garden down the line. Get a few “wins” under your belt by successfully growing plants, and then expand from there. You’re way more likely to have success.

Enter to win a copy of Field Guide to Urban Gardening!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight (EST) on Sunday, June 9, 2019 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

What questions do you have about urban gardening?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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10 Old-Time Garden Tips Your Grandparents Swore By

My grandparents were farmers and
knew how to live off the land. They lived during the Great Depression so they
had a “waste not, want not” mentality that they abided by their entire lives. They
used or recycled what they already had on hand, making them the MacGyvers of
their time. Here are 10 old-time garden tips my grandparents swore by.

Take
good care of your tools
. Keeping
your tools rust-free
will extend their life, make them easier to use and
keep them looking nice. One way to avoid rust is to keep your small tools in a
bucket full of sand. When you insert your tools into the sand bucket, the dirt
on them will fleck off and the sand will wick the moisture away from your
tools, keeping them dry. You can increase the efficacy of your sand bucket even
further by mixing some oil into it (motor oil, cooking oil, mineral oil, etc.).
The presence of the oil will help prevent the formation of rust on your tools.

Recycle
your pantyhose
. That’s right…pantyhose. It can be
used to support plants by tying stems and vines to stakes. It can cover
ripening fruit to protect it from being eaten. Use it for storing onions or
garlic bulbs. It can also be used to cover drain holes in flower pots.

Take
care of your hands
. Gardening can take a toll on your
body, especially on your hands. To keep your hands soft and clean, add a half
teaspoonful of sugar to your soap lathered hands the next time you’re at the
sink. And, to keep dirt out of your fingernails, scratch your fingernails over
a bar of soap before heading to the garden – the soap will dissolve when you
wash your hands.

Deter
a hare with hair
. Human hair can be used as a pest
repellent for rabbits
. Pluck some hair from your hairbrush and place it
around your plants. Unwashed hair can also be hung in mesh bags from trees to
deter deer.

Mason
jars aren’t just for canning
.
Some plants, such as roses,
can easily be propagated using a mason jar. Stick a 6-inch (15 cm.) piece of
rose stem into the ground a few inches deep and then place a mason jar over the
stem to encourage rooting and leafing. You will need to periodically water the
soil around the jar so that the stem doesn’t dry out. In a few months you
should see evidence of new growth. 

Rusty
nails
. It was believed that putting rusty
nails in the ground around hydrangeas
would encourage them to bloom in blue and that adding rusty nails to your potted
African violets
would help them bloom longer, prettier and more abundantly.  

Moon
gardening
. Conducting certain gardening
activities during appropriate moon
phases
was believed to result in more abundant and flavorful crops.

DIY
pest control
. There is no need to buy over the
counter solutions when you can make
your own insecticide at home
to treat pest infestations in your garden. Mix
up 1 tablespoon of liquid soap with 1 gallon of water. Wield this mix in a
spray bottle and apply it to your plants. Also, there’s nothing like rolling up
your sleeves and picking off the bugs manually. I remember my grandmother
picking off numerous potato
bugs
by hand.  

Trench
composting
. No need to buy an expensive
compost bin. You can simply dig a hole in an unused part of your garden and
toss scraps, such as eggshells,
potato skins, banana
peels
and coffee
grounds
right in, then cover it back up with soil. Do this every other day
and rotate around the garden.

Take
cuttings and make more plants
.
It’s cheaper to take, root and grow cuttings to make new plants instead of
buying from the nursery. Look to your friends, family and neighbors to source
and trade plant cuttings. 

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History Of Hydrangeas: Learn About Heirloom Hydrangea Plants

Take a minute to picture the quintessential front garden. Are you doing it? What do you see? If you grew up where I did, chances are good you’re picturing hydrangeas – big round bushes of pink or blue blooms surrounding a front porch. But what’s the story behind hydrangeas? Where do they come from, and why do we love them so much?

History of Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas have been around for a long time. The oldest fossils of the plants have been found in the western U.S. and Canada, and dated to 40 to 65 million years old (That’s right around the time the dinosaurs died out). More recent fossils have also been found in Asia, where people first started cultivating the flowers thousands of years ago.

Hydrangeas didn’t make it to Europe until 1736, however, when a man named Peter Collison brought them back from the Pennsylvania colony. It was given the name “hydrangea” for the Greek words “hdyro” (meaning water) and “angeion” (meaning pitcher) because the big flower blooms were thought to look like water pitchers.

Japan was virtually closed off to Europeans at the time, so no Asian varieties made their way to Europe until 1775, when the Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg managed to get his hands on five plants. Since then, hydrangeas have taken the world by storm, spreading all over as a go-to flower for bouquets, vases, and front yard landscaping.

Culture of Old-Fashioned Hydrangeas

There are over 70 species of hydrangea, and although several are native to the Americas, the ones that are the most popular in the U.S. and Canada actually hail from Asia. Like a lot of flowers, hydrangeas have deeply rooted meanings, especially when given as gifts.

In Japan, they are said to express gratitude or contrition. In European culture, they came to mean arrogance and frigidity. In modern Western culture, these connotations are all but lost, and hydrangeas are mostly prized for their giant clusters of blooms that change color depending on soil conditions.

So don’t worry about coming off as arrogant, or accidentally apologizing to your neighbors – plant those hydrangeas and soak up their splendor!

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Summer Tips from Monrovia, a Reputable Name You Can Trust

Planning summer vacation? Consider beautiful low-fuss plants. Your garden’s looking great right now, but your summer vacation is on the horizon. Maybe you have a live-in gardener who’ll nurture your plants every day while you’re gone, but if not, consider checking out some low-maintenance alternatives that almost take care of themselves. Choose some hardy plants from Monrovia that can stand up to the summer weather while you take that much needed break.

Coloring Your Space

Some of
the brightest survivors boast intense color. Lantana’s summer flowers come in
multiple combinations, which attract some of the best birds and insects.
Layering along walkways or stuffing large pots full of this beautiful plant
will make your summer sing. For a multitude of colors all in one pot, fill in
with some Portulaca, which will continue to provide a riot of color for a
special spot in your yard or on the deck.

Azure Brush Germanders

Have a corner that could use some brightening up? Try planting several Azure Brush Germanders wherever you want a gorgeous color splash. Give it some background or surround it with a halo of something interesting, like Bush Tenacity Kangaroo Paw, for upright bright yellow flowers topping red stems.

Hot Summer Aromatics

There’s
nothing headier than the aroma of herbs in the summer. Most herbs don’t require
much attention and their olfactory gift is as pleasing as the stunning visuals.
For easy care and beauty, it’s hard to find anything more satisfying than
purple sage, lavenders and rosemary. Try lining your walkways or planting these
beautiful plants under windows for aromas that create memories for years to
come.

Kudos Gold Dwarf Hummingbird Mint

Monrovia’s robust Santa Barbara Mexican Sage, Arp Rosemary and Phenomenal French Lavender are aromatic dreams in deep shades of purple. But did you know there is an aromatic mint that produces bright golden-yellow flowers? Kudos Gold Dwarf Hummingbird Mint from Monrovia is a perfect addition to your herb collections. And all of them only ask for relatively easy care in the summer.

Angelina Stonecrop

Succulent Fascination

The fractal designs and patterns of Hens and Chicks are some of nature’s most exquisite work. Luckily, many of them are fuss-free, asking for minimal care and water. Contrasted with a simpler succulent like Serpent’s Blue Chalk, or a brilliant Angelina Stonecrop, succulent gardens can withstand a lot of summer weather and still be beautiful when you come home from your well-earned summer holiday.

Of course, depending upon your climate, certain plants will do better in summer than others. A deep watering before you leave and providing a bit of wind protection may be important in your area. Monrovia prides itself on its long-standing reputation as a strong, reputable grower. Look for their plants that are summer super-heroes – plants that wait patiently for your return, and won’t punish you for being away.

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Healthy, Non-Toxic & Green Cookware Handmade in the USA

Conscientious
“green” cooking? I’ve handled all the issues when it comes to food prep. I eat
from the garden, cook fresh, local and non-processed foods. I use heat instead
of microwaves and stay current about how my food is grown. But here’s something
I didn’t know.

Even the finest cookware…

I
woke up to this fact: even the best pots and pans (and often most expensive)
leach toxins into my food. As a persnickety cook, I want my food to hit the
table untainted. In short, I want healthy cookware. What I’ve learned is that most
cookware emits some level of contaminants when it’s heated, regardless of all
the qualities they sold you on when you ordered from the shopping channel or
your posh local kitchen store. It’s one of those things that hit you by
surprise. Your cookware is probably poisonous. But let’s talk about that a bit
later.

Turmeric rice in MEC

Enter Mother Earth’s Kitchen

There’s a bright woman named Miriam who literally searched the planet to find a source of naturally clean clay for making healthy cookware. It would have to be totally free of toxins. No lead, no impurities – just nutrient-rich, perfect clay from the depths of Mother Earth – the kind of clay used by our earliest pot-making ancestors over the campfire. Miriam found what she was looking for. Her company, Miriam’s Earthen Cookware, creates a line of clay cooking vessels that may be the most pristine pots obtainable, anywhere. Anyone who takes special care with food prep should know there’s a way to cook that sustains the same level of wholesomeness you insist on when shopping, growing and sourcing your fresh food.

Miriam’s Earthen Cookware is hand-crafted in the U.S. from non-toxic, unglazed, 100% pure clay. This clay is the only material that is 100% inert and non-reactive, and is rigorously tested for contaminants or impurities. Nothing harmful is leached into your food. It cooks with gentle heat so your food remains perfect and rich in nutritional value. Unlike metal and even some ceramic cookware, pure clay pots allow absolutely no radiation of toxins into your food. So now, let’s take a moment to evaluate our traditional cookware.

What lurks…

I’ll
make this brief. Certainly not all of these chemical contaminants exist in
every pot and pan, but most of them have one or more:

  • Aluminum is a
    known neurotoxin that affects more than 200 biologically important functions in
    the body. 
  • Overconsumption of
    copper has been linked to the development of ulcers and liver damage.
  • Cadmium is
    carcinogenic and lodges in the kidneys and liver.
  • Some ceramic,
    enamel and glass cookware contain lead, and I think we all know about that
    poison.
  • Often used in
    glazes and linings of pots and pans, including some stainless steel, excessive
    exposure to nickel is linked to dermatitis, lung and nasal cancers, as well as
    nausea and neurological problems.

Hopefully,
no one uses Teflon pans any longer, but even the newer non-stick cookware can
be risky if you’re using high heat. Miram’s “primary” clay, harvested from
20-25 feet below the surface of the earth contains absolutely zero toxins.

Here and Now

Miriam’s
clay cookware, although an ancient idea, is thoughtfully designed for modern
versatility. As a conscientious cook, you want to preserve your food’s vitamins
and minerals, retain its nutritional value, flavor and moisture. This non-toxic
cookware works on the stovetop or oven and uses less heat than your traditional
pots and pans. Food flavors come out fresh and potent since no properties are
lost in the cooking process.

Take your culinary competence to the next level using Miriam’s Clay Cookware – your choice for healthy cooking. It’s our next step in the green cookware revolution, and will open a new chapter of food experiences for your family.

Gardening Know How readers can redeem a 10% off coupon using the code: Cookhealthyghk

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Q&A with Matt Mattus, author of “Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening”

Matt Mattus is an American visual designer, artist, horticulturist, and futurist. He is also a third generation gardener of his family property in Massachusetts and the author of a popular gardening blog, Growing with Plants. Matt is very active in many plant societies and is a popular speaker at botanic gardens, specialist plant societies, and at horticultural conferences. In his latest book, Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening, Matt tells you how, where, and why to grow more than 200 varieties of vegetables and herbs from the 50 most popular groups. Read on to learn more and enter below to win a copy from Quarto Publishing Group!

In your book you mention that you are a third generation gardener.  What are some of the most valuable things you have learned about gardening from your parents and grandparents?

My parents were rather practical growers (mom canned, preserved and pickled while my dad focused on volume crops -like potatoes, bush beans and tomatoes.  They were depression era parents so that sort of ‘growing enough to preserve’ is something that has been hard-wired into me. Of course, it isn’t practical today with full time jobs, travel and an active lifestyle. – but it does remind one about effort and yields – a better bang for your buck, if you will. In spring I confidently plant 50 foot long rows of peas so that I will have some to freeze to enjoy in winter and long rows of potatoes because I know that I want to store them in the root cellar. Fresh-from-the-garden is terrific in July but there is something to be said about saving some of the reward for winter meals. Enjoying ones own green peas in January or opening a jar of whole canned tomatoes during a blizzard extends the enjoyment and magic of the summer gardening season for me.

You mention Julia Child, a personal hero of yours.  How did Julia Child inspire your approach to gardening?

When Judith Jones, the editor at Knopf who was charged with evaluating Julia Child’s landmark and influential manuscript for ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ she already  knew that previous publishers rejected the book based on it’s in depth content. “Why would anyone need to know this much about French cooking” said one early reviewer. I experienced the same thing with my manuscript, but I persisted knowing that the marketplace today  for gardening books is very similar how post war United States was moving toward with food and cooking. Social media edits and distills guidelines for gardening often down to over simplified bits of advice,  soundbites and ‘Easy ‘hacks’. That’s not what I am about. Like Julia, I felt that home gardeners today were in need of accurate guidelines. Real instructions not just shortcuts. Like cooking, vegetable gardening isn’t always easy and while there is often more than one way to  either grow a squash or tomato.  In cooking there are ingredients, right? There are inferior ingredients and there are superior ingredients. Most of us get that now, but in gardening, the ‘art’ part still needs to catch up. By ‘art’ here I primarily mean techniques.  Sure there are ‘ingredients to master like soils, fertility, training and cultivating methods and techniques from seed starting to proper timing. Like Julia, I couldn’t find the book out there that didn’t shy away from the hard stuff but one that would explain things in detail as I am one of those guys who also likes to know the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’. A good baker today may know how to make a croissant with a laminated pastry, but the best baker will know why a low-water content high-fat butter works better, and especially what happens to the butter when they use the higher quality one. It’s very much the same thing with gardening.

How does your book help inspire us not just to sow something and let it grow, but to truly master growing it?

I think we’ve all experienced failures in our gardens which is normal, but I feel that once we fail with let’s say a crop that we’ve never grown before, we rarely revisit
it. Most people just focus on what plants are available at the garden center in spring. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and maybe some easy-to-sow seeds like beans but I like to then ask people what they like to cook, and what do the get excited about when they
see it at a farm stand or at the market? Knowing that you can actually grow some of the finest artichokes or watermelon in your home garden is often liberating for many gardeners who find that they really aren’t growing what they love, or what excites them.
In a world where most of us can buy a fresh zucchini in the summer at a farm stand, why not dedicate that space to an interesting kale or a red brussels’s sprout? Something that you may never find at a market or even at a farm to table restaurant? As for ‘mastering’,
I am a research nerd and rather obsessive about perfecting something that I have failed at a number of times. I try to share all of these tales in this book, often with surprising results that should inspire even beginner gardeners – for example, one of the
easiest veggies to grow is Belgian endive. You grow the roots all summer like carrots in poor, dry soil, then you dig them in the fall, pot them up and keep them in a dark closet. In a few weeks you have a pot of the tastiest, crunchy Belgian Endive. It doesn’t
get easier than that.

In your book, you suggest that we “treat our vegetable garden as our own private fantasy supermarket”.  What’s growing in your private fantasy supermarket?  

I am currently into celtuce, a stem-lettuce long popular in China but a veg that I am totally addicted to, as well as plenty of tomatoes. (because – come on!), about 15 varieties of cucumbers because there are so many different types available now that I have to try them all, and Asian long gourds for our new gourd tunnel. Actually I am growing less this year as I am growing other things for a new book.

How does this book differ from other gardening books on our book shelves?

I wanted it not only be useful, but attractive. A visually exciting book is something I enjoy, but only if it has good content in it too as far too many books lately often just look good, but end up on the shelf never to come out again. So I pushed my publisher to try and keep it looking more like a cookbook – with a large full page photo on one side, and some history, facts and useful guidelines on the other side. Keeping the structure simple was key, but we are all so visual today that nice photos make a book a useful object. – inspirational and easy to consume.

I noted that you are credited as the photographer in this book.  Your photos are beautiful and you seem to have a great eye for photography.  Do you have a formal education as a photographer?   

Thanks so much! I don’t have a formal background in photography but I my dad was a photographer and painter professionally, and while too was an artists early in my career, I later moved onto a corporate job with toy maker Hasbro where I stayed for 28. Years. I started in packaging design and later branding design. I also heading up our photo studio a directed photo shoots worldwide with some of the best photographers in the world, so maybe some of that rubbed off? I will say that I really didn’t take great photos until I went digital though but since I had an extensive career as a digital designer (most people know me as ‘that speaker from the design conference’ or even ‘that guy behind My Little Pony, Disney Princesses and Transformers’, that sometimes I feel as if I lead two different lives! Peers on that side of my career get confused  when they discover that I ‘grow those ‘flowers’.

Enter to win a copy of Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight (EST) on Sunday, June 2, 2019 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

What aspect of vegetable gardening would you like to master?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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Top 10 Questions About Hosta Plants

Here at Gardening Know
How
we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to
those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. Hostas are
some of the most popular of landscape plants, especially in shady areas of the
garden. But these wonderful foliage specimens are not without their problems. Below
are our answers to 10 most commonly asked questions we receive when growing hosta plants in
the landscape
.

1. When is the best time to plant hosta?

While a hosta
can be planted
at any point during the growing season, the two most ideal
times are in early spring after the last frost or in the fall, 4-6 weeks before
the first frost.

2. Should you fertilize a hosta?

Yes, you can and should fertilize a hosta plant. Fertilizer
will help your hostas achieve optimum growth. At a minimum, you should
fertilize your hostas each spring with an all-purpose garden fertilizer. You
may also wish to fertilize during the summer, but this is not completely
necessary.

3. How to fix holes in my hosta leaves?

Holes in hosta leaves are typically a calling card of slugs
or snails.
There are many tactics you can employ against these garden assailants, such as
setting up beer baits or surrounding your plants with diatomaceous earth,
crushed eggshells or copper wire.

4. How much sun will a hosta tolerate?

Hostas are mostly shade-loving plants
and enjoy soaking in dappled sunlight throughout the day. If you’re really
wanting to push the envelope for sun intensity, there are a handful of hosta
varieties
that are more adaptable for a more sunny spot – just be prepared
to water them more regularly than their shaded counterparts. These sun tolerant
hostas can withstand a few hours of direct sun a day (full morning and late
afternoon sun is best) and tend to share certain traits, such as thick leaves,
leaves with hues of white, yellow or gold and more fragrant flowers.

5. How to divide a hosta plant?

The ideal time to divide
hostas
is in early spring or in the fall. The first step is to dig up the
entire root clump. Work the plant loose from the ground by digging about 3-5
inches (7.6 to 13 cm.) around the base of the plant. Pull the plant out of the
ground and shake off any loose soil. Set the plant on the ground and part the
foliage so you can see the center of the plant. Take a flat-bottomed shovel and
split the plant down the middle from the crown down. Now it’s time to plant the
newly separated sections. Dig holes 2-3 times the size of the root masses. Add
plant food to the holes, mixed in with some compost, insert the plants and then
backfill. Give the hostas a drink of water and add some mulch around the base
of the plants.

6. Can I cut the flowers off of my hosta?

Yes, no harm will befall your hosta by cutting the flowers. They
can be trimmed at any point whether they are actively blooming or spent. Some hosta
flowers
, however, actually have a wonderful fragrance which may make you
reconsider.

7. Should you cut hosta leaves back in the fall?

As fall progresses, your hostas will begin to naturally show
signs of decline. Once the leaves start turning yellow and fading, that’s your
telltale sign to prune. Pruning and disposing of these leaves is important
because dead leaves left on the plant have the potential to harbor pests and
disease, and you don’t want that. How far should your pruning go? Prune
hosta plants
to ground level and dispose of the trimmings.

8. How to winterize hosta plants?

For in-ground plantings, cut back the hosta leaves and
spread a 2- to 3-inch (5 to 7.6 cm.) layer of mulch over the crown before the
first hard frost in the fall. The mulch will help retain moisture in the soil
as well as regulate the soil temperature, preventing the heaving that can occur
during cycles of soil freezing and thawing. For container plantings, it is
easiest to just move the containers into an unheated garage or shed when
temperatures dip below freezing. Water occasionally when the soil starts to go
dry, but do so only on mild days and when the soil or root ball in the
container is not frozen.

9. Can you grow hosta in containers?

Hostas actually make great container plants for a shady
corner on your porch or patio so long as you are mindful to water them
regularly. Knowing how
to plant hostas in a container
will allow you to be creative! Hostas can be
mixed in with other shade-loving flowers and plants to create some really
eye-popping arrangements. 

10. Why are my hosta leaves turning yellow?

There are a multitude of reasons why your hosta
leaves may be turning yellow
. The leaves could be scorching due to too much
sun exposure. Your plant could be falling victim to pests, such as foliar
nematodes, or any number of fungal diseases, rots and viruses. If it’s late in
the season (i.e. fall/winter), your plant may just be naturally declining. Or
perhaps you are simply watering it too little or not enough.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

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Top 5 Memorial Day Planting Tips

Memorial Day is the long weekend marking the beginning of the summer growing season. That means that it’s a perfect time to set out plants to get the warm-weather garden show started. Almost any bedding plant or veggie will be happy getting its roots into the soil at this point in the year. You can choose among the annuals and perennials that do well in your region. Here are a few Memorial Day planting tips to get you started.

1. Prepare the soil – You can start preparing the soil well in advance of the big weekend. The idea is to get rid of weeds and rocks and cultivate the heck out of the garden patch. Work in organic compost plus some sand, if drainage is a problem. You might also do advance feeding by working a slow release fertilizer(low nitrogen content) into the top foot of soil.

2. Buy early – If you wait until Memorial Day to get your seedlings, you’ll be left with the ones nobody else wanted. Think ahead, make a list and go shopping at least a week in advance. Pick seedlings with good growth, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the biggest. Opt for compact seedlings with strong stems. Pick plants with deep green foliage. Leave behind those with spots on the leaves, wilted or discolored leaf edges or pest holes. Keep the plants moist and in a cool spot until planting.

3. Careful with the roots – Think of the process of removing the seedlings from their containers as an art, not something to be done in a clumsy rush. Don’t tug. Slide the plants out to keep the roots and stems from breaking. What to do when they don’t slide? Pinch flexible pots to loosen up the roots, or give larger containers a roll. If the roots circle the root ball, separate or slice through them if necessary.

4. Nurture the seedlings – Even plants that love direct sun can be felled by it on planting day. It’s critical to check the seedlings a couple of times a day as they wait to be planted. Spray them to provide moisture, and keep them in the shade. Before planting, you’ll need to water them well. Then actually put them in the soil in the cool of the morning or afternoon.

5. Plant at the right depth – The general rule about how deep to plant seedlings is simple: plant at the same depth as they grew in their pots. Of course, it’s the exception that proves the rule and the exception here is leggy tomatoes. Plant these deeper than they sat in their pot soil to produce a stronger, healthier plant.

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Dig It® Apparel Giveaway

Gardeners will really dig this weekend’s giveaway (May 24 – 26, 2019)! Three lucky gardeners will each win a pair of Dig It® gloves (in winner’s choice of color/style), and an 8 Dots Pack of Dig It In The Sun® UVA/UVB Indicators.

Dig It® gloves are both fashionable and functional, allowing for the enjoyment of gardening activities while protecting hands and manicures, courtesy of a patented pillow-top in each fingertip. These gloves are also lauded for their excellent dexterity and comfortable fit as they were crafted especially for a woman’s hand.

When exposed to UV, the Dig It In The Sun™ Dot changes from clear to deep purple. And just like skin, when sunscreen is applied over the Dot, it turns clear and only changes color when the effectiveness of sunscreen wears off. Each adhesive Dot remains effective throughout a full day of activity and removes easily without causing irritation.

To enter, please do the following anytime from Friday, May 24 through midnight Sunday, May 26:

  1. Go to the Gardening Know How Facebook page. Find the Dig It® giveaway post pinned at the top of the page. Make a comment underneath this post with your answer to the following question: “Check out Dig It® gloves. Which color and style of Dig It® gloves appeals to you most?
  2. Share the Dig It® giveaway Facebook post on your timeline.

The winners will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified through Facebook. (See rules for more information.)

Connect with Dig It® Apparel: https://digitapparel.com

Receive 10% off your order with promo code “Dig It GKH”

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Solving Your Gardening Needs with a Vegepod

Imagine
gardening in comfort. You’re not alone in this. Sometimes it’s hard. Ground-level
gardening can be rough on your knees and back, regardless of our gardening environment
or age! Kneel-down, bend-over gardening presents a few physical challenges with
ground-level garden beds. What if you found a perfect solution that not only
mitigates the strain, but actually does some of the work for you?

Close
your eyes for a moment. Imagine, if you will…(thank you, Rod Serling) a garden
bed that stands at the height of your arms, holds plenty of your favorite soil
mix, can be easily moved, protects your plants while still letting in light, creates
a microclimate and ….wait for it….waters itself! 

Surprise! It’s here!

The Vegepod is the only product on the market that handles the hard stuff so you can grow your vegetables and flowers with the real ease and pleasure that gardening should bring.

This
amazing comprehensive growing system removes all the daunting elements of gardening
– it can be situated anywhere, and makes successful growing of vegetables and
flowers so much easier, and way more fun. Whether you’re a beginning gardener eager
to see the fruits of your new skills, or an experienced gardener who wants to
just make it fun again, this is your time.

Overcome Gardening Challenges

There
are challenges to caring for our beautiful flower, herb and vegetable plants, whether
we live on a farm or a mid-city apartment. Growing vegetables in suburbia is commonly
fraught with issues like poor soil quality, harmful insects, hungry animals,
inclement weather—just to name a few. We could all use a little help.

  • Protection – The commercial grade canopy on the Vegepod shields your plants and tender seedlings from harm, while allowing air and light through the micro-mesh fabric. A microclimate under the canopy serves as a mini-greenhouse for lush, healthy plants.
  • Roots – There’s room in the pod for a foot (30 cm.) of soil, so your plants’ roots can grow long and strong. Container gardening doesn’t always offer enough soil depth for the amount of growing you want to do, but these pods offer a full gardening experience.
  • Water – Your plants’ roots can gather moisture from the water reservoir at the bottom of the pod. As a self-watering garden, the mist spray system can be connected with your timer hose for perfect irrigating whenever you choose.
  • Size and Portability – Vegepod comes in three sizes so you can grow as few or as many plants as you want, wherever you want. Better than traditional container gardening, a Vegepod can be raised on a stand to waist height to save strain on your back, or kept low enough for a child or wheelchair. Roll it on its trolley to easily change its location.
  • Wintering Over – The Vegepod people thought of everything. They even sell a wintering-over cover that will protect your plants in extreme cold weather. No more losing your flowers to an unexpected frost, or lugging pots into the garage or basement.

Father’s Day and Beyond

A Vegepod
delivers a beautiful, lifetime source of gardening delight for years to come. Funded
on Shark Tank Australia in 2016, this brilliant creation has won multiple
international awards. Thousands of Vegepods are sold every day in seven
countries.

Your
favorite gardeners deserve this. Father’s Day is just around the corner. And spring
is upon us. This is a perfect time to surprise those you love with this
innovative easy-gardening system. Or imagine having one for yourself.

Visit the Vegepod website to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a Medium Vegepod. This giveaway ends May 31st and the winner will be announced on June 1st. Share this post with your family and friends too.

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Learn About The History Of Rhododendrons In The Garden

The odds are good that you, or someone on your block, has a rhododendron in the yard with a beautiful crop of showy, fragrant long-lasting flowers. Rhododendron is an enormously popular ornamental in this country, but then again, it has been around a long time and rhododendron history is complex. Read on for a trip into the fascinating history of rhododendrons.

Rhododendron History

You may think of “rhododendron” as the flowering shrub in your backyard but, in fact, it is a genus that groups together over 1,000 species of plants. Both those plants that gardeners term “rhododendrons” and plants we call “azaleas” are included in the genus. Some traditional rhododendrons are short shrubs, others tall trees; some are deciduous, some evergreen.

At one time in the early history of rhododendrons, these plants grew quite prolifically all across the globe. However, this was interrupted when glaciers extended across the planet and the modern grassland and deserts evolved. Although you can still say that rhododendrons are found growing wild all around the globe, they grow today in isolated pockets. In the years following the Ice Age, the range of the plants was radically reduced. They continued to thrive only where they could find refuge. That included the pan-shaped area from the southern Himalayas east into southwestern China. This area is remarkable in that there are numerous deep valleys clustered together quite closely.

Rhododendrons grow wild in modern times on the slopes of those deep valleys and also in the mountain archipelago bridging mainland Asia and Australia. That includes the islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, and the Philippines. All of the rest are scattered in pockets across the northern hemisphere, with some in Japan, some in the United States.

Growing Traditional Rhododendrons

For many, many years, most of the traditional rhododendron species grew in China and stayed in China. The country and the region, especially the interior of China, were closed to foreign travel in general and to Europeans in particular. It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that collectors even learned about the rhododendron species in China.

At that point, English, American and French collectors “discovered” Chinese rhododendron plants and began to bring samples back to their native countries. But the center of the country and its rich flora were isolated until after the war between China and the allied powers, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. After the Treaty of 1860, the vast range of rhododendrons in China’s interior were discovered and many new species were brought to the West.

If you are thinking of growing traditional rhododendrons, you’ll need to provide a location with some sun. These plants also require well-drained soil that is constantly moist. Although rhododendrons are not particularly picky plants, they do need more air around their roots than other shrubs. Grow them in soil rich in organic content. It also helps to plant them in raised beds.

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Honeysuckle Planting Pros And Cons

Honeysuckles get a bad rap, and for the most part, they deserve it. With a little knowledge and care, they can be a great benefit to the garden. Keep reading to learn more about responsible honeysuckle growing as well as honeysuckle planting drawbacks.

Honeysuckle Planting Pros

(Liz’s viewpoint) While they have beautiful and fragrant flowers, several popular species are highly invasive outside their native Asia, and they’re notorious for choking out local plants. There are several shrub varieties too, and while they don’t spread as vigorously as vines and might seem like a good idea, grow very densely and manage to choke out native plants. These should also be avoided. But not all honeysuckles are like this, and there are, in fact, several good honeysuckle plants.

There are native and non-aggressive honeysuckle plants. Not all honeysuckles are invasive, and not all are non-native. Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a North American native with red flowers that are extremely attractive to hummingbirds. If you’re looking for a reliable native plant that won’t cause trouble, this is the one, and it comes in a wide variety of cultivars. Some other good, responsible choices are Brown’s honeysuckle (Lonicera x brownii), winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), and Woodbine (Lonerica x americana).

They’re tough. One of the reasons the Asian varieties are such a nuisance is that they’re very hardy and adaptable, especially in the American South where temperatures don’t fall too low. Luckily, this toughness translates to the good varieties as well. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, reliable plant, honeysuckle is a good bet.

They attract pollinators. This is one area where the North American native trumpet honeysuckle really shines. Because of their red color and tubular shape, the vine’s flowers are ideal for hummingbirds, and they really do attract them. Put a vine near a picture window or patio to reap the benefits. If you plant it, they will come!

They smell heavenly. Even more than their invasive qualities, honeysuckles are best known for their sweet smell and flavor. What kid hasn’t plucked a flower or two to taste the drop of nectar inside? Unfortunately, trumpet honeysuckle doesn’t have much of a scent, but some other non-invasive varieties do have that amazing fragrance. These include European honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) and winter honeysuckle.

Of course, nothing quite matches the heady scent of Japanese honeysuckle, especially for the many of us who have it deeply tied up in our heads with memories of spring. While you should never plant a Japanese honeysuckle, there’s nothing to stop you from sniffing the ones that are already growing. Even bad plants have a good quality or two.

Cons of Honeysuckle Planting

(Mary’s viewpoint) There’s no question that honeysuckle blooms are beautiful and the aroma is heavenly, but it’s important to know exactly what you’re planting. Invasive species of honeysuckle, including Japanese honeysuckle, have become an absolute nightmare for many well-intended gardeners who regret ever planting these aggressive honeysuckle plants. In fact, Japanese honeysuckle and other non-native species have been classified as noxious weeds in several states. If you aren’t aware of the many honeysuckle planting drawbacks, consider the following information:

It can overwhelm nearby plants. Invasive honeysuckle vines, which are non-native, can out-compete native plants for nutrients, air, sunlight and moisture. The vines can ramble over the ground and climb up ornamentals, small trees and shrubs, smothering them, cutting off their water supply or stopping free flow of sap in the process. One vine can reach lengths of 80 feet (24 m.)

It spreads and grows just about anywhere. Japanese honeysuckle, which was introduced to the United States in 1906, has been a particularly problematic invader since 1919. Many invasive honeysuckle plants, including Japanese honeysuckle, were planted along the nation’s highways to stabilize banks and control erosion. The plan worked, but unfortunately, invasive honeysuckle is an opportunist that has spread into woods, glades, prairies, savannahs and floodplains, climbing over everything within its reach. Like most non-native species, it has few natural enemies to keep it in check.

It’s difficult to control. Invasive honeysuckle is extremely fast-growing and very difficult to get rid of. The vines grow by both roots and rhizomes, and if that weren’t enough, they also root at nodes along the vines. Animals and birds disseminate the seeds far and wide.

Only Go with Good Honeysuckle Plants

Honeysuckles have a delicious scent that attracts humans and pollinators alike, and they can be a huge boon to your garden…provided you grow the right varieties. If you’re thinking about planting honeysuckle, plant a non-invasive, native honeysuckle vine and steer clear of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and other invasive species. Don’t assume your local garden center or nursery will know the difference. Check with your local extension office before planting to make sure the species you’re considering is non-invasive.

Tip: Penn State University Extension advises that native species (the good guys) are stout, erect, solid-stemmed plants that grow in dry or rocky ground. They produce yellow flowers. Non-native honeysuckles, which generally have hollow stems, prefer moister soil. Invasive honeysuckle plants leaf out a couple of weeks ahead of native honeysuckles and hold their foliage later into autumn.

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Q&A with Julie Thompson-Adolf, author of “Starting & Saving Seeds”

Julie Thompson-Adolf is an obsessive organic gardener, nature nut, ecoadventurer, animal advocate, and seed lover. As an experienced gardener and garden writer, Julie is best known for her brand and blog, Garden Delights. Julie’s suburban “microfarm” is a regular site for tours and teaching. She’s a Master Gardener, has served on the National Garden Bureau’s Plant Nerds team, and joined with P. Allen Smith for Garden2Blog. Julie’s a member of Garden Writers’ Association, Slow Food, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and many other environmental and gardening groups. In her latest book, “Starting & Saving Seeds“, Julie offers the tools you need to become a seed starting and saving champion. Enter below to win one of two copies from Quarto Publishing Group!

How and why did you become a
seed-starting and seed-saving champion?

I’ve
always gardened. My earliest memories involve helping my mother plant petunias
along the side of our house. However, both she and my dad grew up in the years
following the Great Depression. In their families, they grew food out of
necessity—my father’s family lived on a dairy farm, and their garden needed to
feed a hungry farm family with a lot of kids. So, once my parents were
comfortable, they never grew a vegetable garden. It didn’t have the romantic
appeal that it offers to so many of us. But they did always buy the freshest
produce from local farms.

A few
things conspired to focus my growing efforts on food growing, in addition to my
floral gardens: the recession hit, and my husband was diagnosed with Type-2
diabetes. Suddenly, friends worried about how they’d feed their families if
disaster struck, while I tried to figure out how to better align our family’s
meals to meet my husband’s health needs. Overnight, I basically began growing
food—and helping my friends and community learn how to grow food, too.

However,
I didn’t want to grow just any food. I wanted to grow beautiful, interesting
food with stories to tell. I read everything I could about heirlooms—including
their history, the many varieties, the people who championed them—and I was
hooked. The first year, I grew 64 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. The second
year, I grew 184 varieties. It’s a bit of an obsession.

Because
so many people worried about the economy at the time, I tried to show that
growing food from seed offered a great value, and I encourage friends to get
together and share seeds to minimize the initial expense. Once you’ve grown a
garden the first year, saving seeds from the best, healthiest plants should
help minimize expenses for future seasons.

The more
I read about heirlooms, too, the more I wanted to help preserve varieties that
teeter on the brink of extinction. So, I spent time writing about heirlooms and
learning more about the people and cultures behind different varieties, hoping
to generate awareness and encourage people to grow those crops—and save the
seeds. I’m a member of Slow Food and Seed Savers Exchange, and they do an
amazing job of ensuring culturally important foods remain available.

Why should we grow from seed versus
buying starter plants at our local nursery?

There are
many reasons to grow from seed. First, you’ll find an amazing selection of
fruit, vegetables, and herbs available in seed catalogs—purple peas, gorgeous
striped tomatoes, speckled lettuce—that you won’t see at Home Depot. At the big
box stores, you’ll find mostly round, red hybrid tomatoes and some romaine
lettuce. It’s gotten better in recent years, but it’s still not great. Plus,
when growing from seeds, you can find varieties that perform well in your
region. Tomatoes that need a long summer to produce aren’t appropriate for the
cooler north, so it’s easier to choose plants to grow that are regionally
appropriate. Talking to farmers and home gardeners in your region is a great
way to learn what grows well where you live, as opposed to crops that might be
susceptible to disease in high humidity, for instance. Growing plants from seed
that do well in your region will ultimately make you happier, too, because
they’ll produce better!

Growing
from seed is economical, particularly if you partner with a friend or two. One
tomato plant at the store can cost $4, while a pack of 25 seeds (or more) is
usually less than $3. Plus, many seeds last for years with proper storage, so
that $3 goes a long way to ensuring tomatoes in your garden for years! And, if
you get a little overzealous and start too many plants, you can often sell the
extras. That’s how my business began: I grew too many plants and started
selling at our local farmers’ market. It was a lot of fun—and a nice way to
make a bit of money to fund my gardening habit!

Additionally,
growing from seed ensures better control over your plants. If you want to grow
organically, you know exactly what ingredients have touched your plant. You
also can better monitor the care of your plant. 
We’ve all seen those poor, droopy plants at the stores that needed some
TLC. When you grow your own plants from seed, you can ensure the best care for
them, combatting any pest issues quickly and feeding them to grow healthy,
strong transplants.

Honestly,
one of the main reasons I grow from seed is the emotional satisfaction that
comes from the seed to garden to table to seed experience. I love the sense of
accomplishment that a tiny seed that I nurtured grew into a beautiful plant
that feeds my family, or a lovely bouquet I can share with friends. Saving
seeds from plants started from seed is also a great feeling of
self-sufficiency.

In your book you mention that 94
percent of seeds have been lost in the past two hundred years.  Why is
this happening, why should we be alarmed and what can we do to curb this trend?

It’s a
little tricky to answer this question for me. First of all, I’m a fan of
science. My father left the dairy farm and became a well-renowned scientist,
and I appreciate the brilliant minds that help our culture grow and innovate.

However,
along with science came a quick growth of Big Ag. I have very mixed feelings
about it, particularly with its impact on family farms, heirlooms, and the
threat to our environment. Many food varieties became lost, because they
couldn’t be grown to scale or weren’t profitable. Many seeds were lost due to introductions
of hybrids that offered better disease resistance, yields, and other benefits.
Hybrids are not the enemy—in fact, many varieties solve a lot of problems for
growers, such as wilt resistance. However, when a handful of corporations
control seed production, it’s problematic. The resurgence of interest in
heirlooms makes my seed-loving, storytelling, history-adoring heart happy.

How does this book help us adopt and
practice a seed-to-table-to-seed approach?

Starting and Saving Seeds offers an easy-to-follow resource
that’s meant to be next to you on the potting table, helping you know the
tricks for starting different seeds. Some seeds are challenging—they have hard
seed coats that require scarification, for instance, in order to get the seed
to germinate. Some seeds need a stratification period—exposure to cold—before
they’ll germinate. Some seeds need an overnight soaking in water to grow more
easily. How does a new gardener know that? It can cause a lot of frustration
when you’ve sown seeds and nothing happens, simply because you didn’t know the
tricks for each type of seed. Starting
and Saving Seeds
tells exactly what each seed needs for successful germination,
growth, and—ultimately—planting in the garden.

In their
excitement, many new gardeners forget some necessary steps after their seedlings
have grown and before planting in the garden, such as hardening off. It’s so
frustrating to pamper the seedlings along, only to kill them by exposing them
too quickly to outdoor conditions. The book tells all the steps necessary—from
the tricks to getting seeds to germinate to potting up to hardening off to
growing the plants successfully, as well as when to harvest the veggies or
fruits—and when and how to harvest the seeds. It’s an all encompassing
resource, with easy-to-reference sidebars to help the gardener find information
fast.

Growing from seed may be
intimidating to beginners.  What advice do you have for those who are new
to gardening?

Don’t be
like me. Start slowly! Make a list of four or five of your favorite vegetables,
herbs, or flowers, and grow those from seed the first year so that you don’t
get overwhelmed. My first year growing seeds was insane. I felt the need to
grow hundreds of different vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers—I wanted to
grow EVERYTHING. I did it, but it was overwhelming, especially since I needed
to learn processes. Limit yourself to five things to grow inside, and maybe
direct sow a few easy seeds outside, like zinnias. They’re simple to grow and
highly rewarding with a great, long-lasting burst of color in the garden.

Also,
avoid fads on Pinterest when seed starting. I cringe when I see poor little
seedlings crammed into eggshells perched on a kitchen windowsill. Yes, it looks
cute for that photoshoot—but it’s not healthy for the seedling to grow with
several dozen others in one tiny bit of growing medium, especially without
adequate light! It drives me crazy the amount of misinformation on seed
starting that’s out there. If a gardener tries to replicate it, they’ll end up
with weak, leggy, often diseased seedlings. Just follow the easy directions in
the book. You’ll still get pretty Instagram photos—along with healthy plants!

For those gardeners who embrace a
challenge – what are some of the most notoriously difficult plants to grow from
seed?

Peppers,
tomatoes, and eggplants are a little tricky and good for someone who wants a
bit of a challenge. They like bottom heat, and the easiest way to grow them is
to invest in a heat mat. They’re not terribly difficult to grow, but they do
require a bit more effort and a little extra patience.

Some
perennials also prove a little challenging, as they can be a bit persnickety,
requiring stratification—and then, not even rewarding the gardener with blooms
until the second year, like many Echinacea varieties. Still, they’re worth the
effort.

Certain
herbs, like rosemary and lavender, grow slowly from seed. Again, patience is a
virtue. If you’re having trouble growing specific seeds, make sure you know
what that seed requires. Some seeds, like lettuce, need light to germinate, so
it needs to be sown on top of the soil, or only covered with a dusting of soil.
Other seeds, like carrots, will not be happy in rocky, dry, clay soils—they
need loamy, loose soil to grow well. Using the book as a resource will help
gardeners avoid frustration.

Every gardener has a plant bucket
list.  What plants on your bucket list do you hope to try growing from seed
this year that you have never tried before?

Trillium. I
love, love, love trillium, and I have yet to grow it successfully from seed. My
husband gave me seeds a few years ago, I started them…and I killed them.

Trillium takes up to TWO YEARS to germinate, and another
five to seven years before the plants bloom. As much as I love the plant and
love seeds—I just don’t have that patience. I’m trying hard to cultivate
patience this year!

My friend recently asked me to try to grow various Protea
seeds for her. I’m excited to try them—I’ve never grown them! Still, they take
one to three months for germination. I’m going to practice patience, since I
don’t want to kill her seeds.

Honestly, if I’ll try to grow anything from seed. Why not?
It’s so much fun, and the rewards are worth the challenge!

Enter to win one of two copies of Starting & Saving Seeds!

 

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight (EST) on Sunday, May 26, 2019 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Why do you want to become a seed-starting and seed-saving champion?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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Gardening Know How Sponsorship Recipient: Auburn University Community Garden

This year, Gardening Know How’s School and Community Garden Sponsorship Program was fortunate enough to help support 20 gardens with $1,000 each. These gardens represent a wide array of community and school programs, from Florida to Saskatchewan and many places in between. Each has its own unique and powerful story, and we’re excited to share them with you. Every other week we highlight one of our sponsorship recipients to help spread the word about how amazing they really are. This week we’re featuring the Auburn University Community Garden.

Founded in 1970, the AUCG has been working for almost 50
years to help fight food insecurity and malnutrition in Alabama. In its 2.5
acres of space, it supports over 80 individual plots, which it rents out on a
yearly basis to Auburn community members who want to try their hand at
gardening and farming. It also serves as a teaching space for entomology and
agriculture classes at Auburn University, and has several plots dedicated to
growing and donating produce to local charities.

While gardeners are free to work their own space, the AUCG
staff offers a lot in the way of making their experience better, like crop
recommendations, vacant plot maintenance, and soil preparation. It’s that soil
preparation that’s the most time consuming… or at least it has been. With
Gardening Know How’s sponsorship, the AUCG has been able to purchase a
rear-tine tiller. This is what they had to say about it:

Jeremiah DeVore, manager of the
Auburn University Community Garden, is excited about the new rear tine tiller
we were able to purchase thanks to a sponsorship from Gardening Know How! This
tiller was a huge help in terminating winter cover crops and preparing plots
for new members in time for the start of our garden season in March. The tiller
has also been used to prepare the ground in pollinator plots that were sown
with wildflower mixes to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. We will
use it again soon before planting summer cover crops in our vacant plots, then
again in early fall to terminate those before sowing winter cover crops. Thank
you to Gardening Know How for their support of our organization
!”

With the grant from Gardening Know How, the Auburn University Community Garden has been able to get started engaging the community and growing food to donate in record time. We’re proud to be able to help them realize their dream.

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Top 5 DIY Hacks For Testing Your Soil

Soil quality is one of the most important (and most commonly overlooked) aspects of gardening. Understanding the kind of soil you’re working with will go a long way in growing the right kinds of plants, and growing them successfully. But how can you understand the soil beneath your feet? Do you have to do lots of involved tests?

Honestly, real scientific soil tests performed by your extension office are going to give you the most accurate, reliable results. But if you want to try your hand at testing your own soil, there are several very good DIY methods that don’t take any outside help or special materials.

Here are the top 5 DIY hacks for
testing your soil:

1. Squeeze Test. This soil texture test is the easiest to conduct and to interpret. Soil basically comes in three main textures: sand, loam, and clay. And, of course, everything in between. Simply wet some of your garden soil and squeeze it tightly in your hand.

If it falls apart when you release your hand, you have sandy soil. If it holds its shape but falls apart when prodded, it’s loam. If it holds its shape well, it’s clay

2. Vinegar and Baking Soda Test. Some plants grow well in acidic soil. Some grow well in alkaline soil. Many prefer neutral soil. If you want to test your pH without buying a test kit, put a teaspoon of soil each into two separate containers. To one container, add half a cup of vinegar and stir. If the mixture bubbles and fizzes, you have alkaline soil, probably with a pH between 7 and 8.

If nothing happens, add a little
distilled water to the other cup and mix it until it’s muddy. Then add half a
cup of baking soda and stir. If that mixture bubbles, you have acidic soil,
probably with a pH between 5 and 6. If neither of the mixtures bubbles or
fizzes, you have neutral soil with a pH of 7.

3. Cabbage Water Test. Another way to measure pH level in your soil is with cabbage. Yes, cabbage…more to the point, the red cabbage variety.

Chop up 1 cup of red cabbage and
boil it in 2 cups of distilled water for five minutes. Strain all the solids
out so you just have purple to blue liquid. This liquid should have a neutral
pH of 7. Add 2 teaspoons of your garden soil to the liquid, stir, and let it
sit for half an hour.

If the liquid turns pink, you have
acidic soil. If it turns blue/green, you have alkaline soil. If it doesn’t
change, you have neutral soil.

4. Drainage Test. To measure your soil’s drainage capabilities, dig a 12-inch by 12-inch (30 cm. x 30 cm.) hole with straight sides. Fill the hole to the brim with water and let it drain. This is to saturate the soil, and it could take a while.

Once the hole has drained, fill it
up with water again, and track how quickly it drains. You can do this by laying
a pipe across the top and sinking a measuring stick into the hole. Measure the
distance between the pipe and the water’s surface every hour. Ideally, the
water should go down by 2 inches (5 cm.) every hour – this means you have
normal drainage.

If it goes down by 1 inch (2.5 cm.) or
less per hour, you have poor drainage. If it goes down by 4 inches (10 cm.) or
more per hour, you have very fast drainage.

5. Mason Jar Soil Test. A mason jar soil test can be performed with a 1-quart jar and a tight fitting lid. Simply choose a spot in the garden and dig down about 8 inches (20 cm.) deep, and fill the mason jar half full. Add clear water until it reaches about three-quarters of the way full, then add a teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Place the lid securely on the jar and then shake for at least three minutes. Set it aside and leave it alone for the next 24 hours.

The heaviest material, like sand, will
sink to the bottom while smaller clay particles will be near the top. Silt remains
in the middle. The ideal combination you’re shooting for, referred to as loam, is
about 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt, and 20 percent clay.

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Use Lava Soap to Remove Dirt from Hands After Gardening

For those of us who love to garden, it’s not just the plants we enjoy, or the time spent outdoors … it’s about getting our hands dirty and becoming closer to nature. But, at the end of the day, we still need to get clean, and sometimes this can be an undertaking. This is when I and many other gardeners reach for that trusty bar of Lava® Soap sitting on the kitchen sink.

This post is sponsored by Lava®Soap

Lava® Soap

When Nothing Else Will Do, Lava® Soap Can

This isn’t just any soap on the block. It was specifically designed with people like us in mind – gardeners. While you may think it’s just for men that enjoy working on cars and cleaning up all that grease, oil and grime from their hands, you’d be wrong. Both men and women benefit from Lava® Soap. In addition to grease and grime, it cuts though dirt, mud and more – including sticky sap – making it just as good after gardening. With its gentle scouring power that gets hands squeaky clean after even the dirtiest of jobs, you’re left not only with clean hands but soft, smooth ones. Another plus for us ladies!

These hands need Lava® Soap!

It’s all in the volcanic pumice, and a little added moisturizer, which makes this soap stand out above all others. It scrubs and exfoliates the skin gently but effectively. One of the things I’ve always appreciated most about Lava® Soap, besides the fact that it gets the job done regardless of how dirty my hands are, is that it’s not filled with overpowering perfumes which trigger my allergies and leave me sneezing. Instead, it’s lightly scented. To me, this seems a no-brainer – fewer aromatic ingredients equals more heavy-duty scouring power, and isn’t that really what you want from a hand soap anyway?

Lather, Rinse, Repeat as Needed

Nothing beats having soft, smooth hands after working in the garden all day. All it takes is a simple lather, rinse, repeat as needed, and your hands are just like new again. If you’re worried about having to dig under your nails to get out the packed-in dirt, worry not. There’s a trick to this too – before you head out to the garden, simply rub your nails across a bar of Lava® Soap and the dirt won’t stick to them as you plant or weed those flowerbeds.

Don’t toss your extra Lava® Soap slivers once the bars get too small to handle. Fill a knee-high pantyhose sock with Lava Soap slivers and tie it to a post next to the outdoor water spigot. This way, if your hands are really dirty, you can wash them up before going into the house. The same idea could be taken a step further by blending or mashing the bar slivers with a small amount of water to create hand soap. Put it in an empty, clean soap or lotion dispenser and keep it in the greenhouse or potting shed near a water source to clean your hands.

It’s
always important to have clean hands after gardening. But I’ve found a few other
useful ways to take advantage of the cleaning power of this soap.

Two more useful tricks for Lava® Soap in the garden:

  • Swipe a bar of Lava® Soap over the blades of pruners or hand saws and it will help prevent grime from sticking and allow the tools to cut more easily.
  • Rub a Lava® Soap bar across window and door tracks in the greenhouse and wipe with a rag. The soap helps pick up the stuck-in dirt so it cleans away easily.

Lava® Soap is available at Walmart stores nationwide. You can find a money-saving coupon here. Follow Lava® Soap on Facebook for more tips on how to clean up after gardening and other creative projects.

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Origin Of Pineapple Fruit: Where Do Pineapples Come From

Pineapple is one of the world’s most popular tropical fruits. Did you know that it’s produced in every tropical country in the world? Or that 80 percent of farmed pineapple ends up canned? Pineapple plant history is pretty interesting, and although it requires a warm climate, you can actually grow one in a container in your home if you don’t live in the tropics.

Where Do Pineapples Come from Anyway?

The pineapple, or Ananas comusus, is a type of bromeliad that is native to the New World only. It is cultivated throughout the world now, but it originated in South America. When Columbus and other Europeans arrived in the New World, they found pineapple growing all over the Caribbean, but modern botanists believe the true origin of pineapple fruit is in South America’s Parana Paraguay River basin.

Fun Facts about Pineapple Plant History

People native to South and Central America cultivated and enjoyed pineapple for hundreds of years before Europeans arrived on the scene. But when the newcomers got there, they knew they had a delicacy to bring back home that would be special.

It took a long time to travel in those days, so pineapple, along with other tropical new world fruits, became a status symbol. It was something only the wealthy could afford, and so it became a staple at special meals and holidays. Some people even rented pineapples to use as centerpieces on the dinner table, and only the truly wealthy could actually eat the fruit.

This association with wealth and status turned into a decorative element. The pineapple fruit remains a popular motif in interior design and even clothing, but in past centuries it was used to denote status, generosity, and wealth. Here are some other interesting pineapple facts:

  • The pineapple is not in any way related to pine trees or apples. It got this name because it looks like a pine cone and yet is a fruit like an apple.
  • Portuguese explorers were most responsible for spreading pineapple throughout the world, bringing it to Africa and India.
  • The biggest producers of pineapple in the world are Brazil, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
  • Pineapple was introduced in Hawaii by Captain James Cook. Dole in Hawaii has been growing and canning pineapple since 1903, making the fruit the state’s biggest crop.
  • Pineapple ranks third among canned fruits in the world, behind only applesauce and peaches.

Today, some people grow pineapple in their tropical gardens, mostly for decoration but also for the occasional fruit. If you don’t live in the tropics, you can still enjoy this plant in a greenhouse or an indoor container. You may just get a fruit out of it too.

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Exclusive Offer: Celebrate the Glowpear Café Planter U.S. Launch

The Australian-designed Glowpear café planter is now available in the U.S., so time to get al fresco! This
attractive, sleek planter is mounted on wheels and, as such, designed to work
in any kind of space but is ideal for urban gardening. Grow vegetables, herbs,
or flowers inside or out with this durable, self-watering, and mobile planter.

Grow Veggies and Herbs, Even with No Yard

If you have always
wished you could grow more plants, especially fresh produce and herbs for your
kitchen, but don’t have much space, you just need the right planter. Enjoy
healthier, fresher, more organic produce even in an urban setting with the
Glowpear planter. It’s also available in single or double planter sizes.

Easy Growing and Watering

One of the key
features of the Glowpear café planter is the self-watering system. Forgetting
to water plants is an easy mistake to make. But with this planter it’s no
longer an issue. Just fill up the water reservoir and let your plants water
themselves. They’ll take up water as needed, so there’s no need to worry about
over-watering. The water reservoir level can be easily monitored too, just by
checking the indicator.

You Need a Planter That is Mobile and Easy to Use

The watering
system makes the Glowpear easy to use, but this isn’t the only feature that
will make a gardener out of anyone. You can also enjoy the mobility of the
planter. With wheels, you can easily move it around to take advantage of space
and optimize sunlight. The height of the planter is ideal too. You don’t have
to stress your joints or back by bending and kneeling when pruning or
harvesting plants.

This Planter Looks Good Anywhere, and It’s Durable

The Glowpear café
planter is an ideal compact garden for any space. The sleek, simple, and modern
look of the white and oak planter fits into any design outdoors. The planter is
sturdily constructed, UV- and corrosion-resistant, and is even recyclable. The
materials are food safe, so you can control how you grow your vegetables and
herbs.

For a limited time, and to celebrate the U.S. launch of the Glowpear café planter, get 20 percent off your purchase. Use the code GLOWKNOWHOW to get started on your mobile urban garden. Grow your own kitchen garden with this mobile planter and self-watering plant. Just for good measure, Glowpear will extend the special to the Mini Bench or Mini Wall planter to take better advantage of your more confined, indoors and vertical growing spaces. This range makes creating and maintaining an urban garden easy for any experience level.

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