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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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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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Long-Lasting Garden Ideas: How To Enjoy Your Garden All Summer

In hot temperatures, plants
perspire over 80 percent more than we humans do. This, coupled with the fact
that many areas have been experiencing extreme weather conditions of late,
makes it all the more necessary to give your plants extra TLC during the
scorching summer months. Neglect could result in the lush, luxuriant growth
that makes its presence felt from June to August being harmed by heat stress,
pests, dry soil, overgrown weeds or other factors.

Choose the Right Plants

Your summer garden should reflect
a perfect mix of survival, color and scent. Buy plants that are decently sized,
making sure that your planting space is not overcrowded. Cramming would only be
detrimental to the plants’ survival. When possible, choose native plants which
are suitable to your location.

Rosemary, chives, thyme, sedum, marjoram, winter savory, and thyme thrive in
sunny and drought-like conditions.

Geranium sanguineum is a hardy geranium that is likely to be in flower for nearly
the entire summer with just a bit of deadheading needed. No cutting back is
required. It also offers long-lasting color. You could also consider other
perennial plants for your summer garden such as verbena, Gaura lindheimeri and hydrangea.

Some flower suggestions for scent
include coconut-scented nemesia and
lemon-scented pelargoniums. Night
phlox, a South African perennial, can be planted in pots placed in groups close
to the conservatory or back door.

Plant Care – Water, Food, Shade, Mulch and Pest/Disease
Protection

Given below are some pointers
worth following to prolong the life of your summer garden:

  • Feed your plants regularly throughout the growing season. Organic fertilizer with seaweed in it may assist plants to better deal with drought stress. Liquid fertilizers with higher absorption are good for high temperatures.
  • Hydrate your plants smartly. Aim to give your plants one inch (2.5 cm.) of water a week, taking rainfall into account, which is the amount most garden plants need. Do not water on top of the plant but rather on the ground. Water on the leaves could cause disease. Water in the early morning only.
  • Spread mulch on the soil to safeguard it from the sun and reduce moisture loss. It can also keep weeds from sprouting in empty ground.
  • Mow in the evening and, ideally, ensure that the mower blades are at 3 inches (7.6 cm.) or higher to aid the healthy growth of roots. If you are looking to reduce gardening maintenance time while also benefitting from a professional looking lawn, you can consider artificial grass such as that offered by Easigrass.
  • Deadheading the flowers of perennials whenever they begin to fade will help trigger the growth of fresh new flowers. Prune shrubs and tomato suckers. Get rid of the weeds now before they get bigger and spread. Also, get rid of any damaged or diseased debris.
  • Pest proof your garden. Research suitable products for the specific insects you have to tackle. Traps are worth trying for flying insects, such as wasps and the Japanese beetle.
  • Practice successive planting to get an uninterrupted supply of fresh produce. This simply means planting a set of replacement crops while the ones you planted a few weeks before are still growing.
  • Pick ripe and damaged fruits to prevent them taking up too much of the plant’s water.
  • Exposure to strong sunlight for many hours can be damaging to your garden plants, so if there’s any area in your garden with such conditions, find some way to provide shade. Consider using a cluster of bamboo, tree or other plant for this.
  • Make your garden pollinator-friendly.

Bonus Design Ideas

To go full-on about enjoying
your summer garden for longer, here are a few bonus design ideas:

  • Consider
    decorative pebbles of different textures and colors to lend attractiveness to
    your garden floor beyond just soil.
  • Raised
    beds can be introduced in small spaces to lend height as well as interest.
  • Add
    structure to your garden by positioning pots midway of your borders. For
    continuity, use the same pot along the entire length of bed. Choose a color
    that goes well with the rest of the garden.
  • Summer-blooming
    bulbs, though more like a temporary option, are great to add color and glamour
    to your garden landscape. Some suggestions (go with whatever suits your garden
    plan) include Zantedeschia, dahlia, cape lily, cannas, peacock flower, Allium christophil, and Nectaroscordum siculum.
  • The amazing foliage of cosmea makes it a
    great summer beauty whether in a vase or in the garden.
  • Petunias are a summer flowering annual
    like cosmea and, if they have a trailing habit, are great for hanging baskets.

Put in the little effort and you
can sit back and enjoy a blooming and beautiful garden all summer. You deserve
it!

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Benefits of Gardening – For You & The Planet

Whether
you’ve been gardening for many years now or you’ve only just got your hands on
a shiny new set of gardening tools, but yet to get them dirty, there’s really
no time like the present to learn about the many benefits gardening can provide
for your health as well as our planet. And now is the time to be protecting and
nurturing greenery and Mother Nature. Not only is gardening good for both your
mental and physical wellbeing, but you could find yourself with some financial
benefits and environmental benefits too. Gardening engages the body, stimulates
the mind and uplifts the spirit! Ready to find out more?

Dirt
is good! Gardening can work wonders for your physical and mental health. Did
you know that pulling weeds and planting flowers can cause you to burn 200-400
calories per hour? That makes gardening a very enjoyable and therapeutic
workout! In terms of physical health benefits, gardening can improve your
immune system (since you’re getting your hands dirty), provide more vitamin D
due to more exposure to natural light, help with mobility and flexibility, and
decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Sounds pretty good right?

In
addition to all of the above benefits for your physical health, getting outside
into your own garden or a communal garden can also help your mental health. It
can reduce stress and anxiety, keeps the mind sharp and happy, provides more exposure
to fresh air, enhances the sensory system, and promotes a good night’s sleep.
Even though gardening is for any age, it is particularly beneficial for
seniors.

To
some people, gardening might mean attending to a fully-fledged garden complete
with multiple levels and an entire garden-centre’s worth of plants and shrubs;
however, to some other people, gardening might mean perfecting a small patch of
grass at the front of their home, or even a vertical garden on their balcony.
Just because mature trees can absorb roughly 48 pounds of CO2 a year, doesn’t
mean you have to have a fully grown tree sitting in your back garden – any
amount of gardening will help. You just need to grow and nurture what you can.

All
set to grab your gardening gloves? Not only can gardening provide mental and
physical health benefits, an eco-friendly garden can help release oxygen into
the air, absorb carbon dioxide for a cleaner atmosphere, and provide habitat
and food for wildlife. You could even try your hand at growing some of your own
fruit and veggies, or even herbs. Grow-your-own gardeners could save an average
of $349 (£268) a year!

The infographic below, designed by JD Williams, outlines all the above benefits of gardening and provides some tips on how to attract wildlife to your garden. If having a garden just isn’t an option right now, there’s even a section outlining which houseplants will thrive best in each room of your home. Ready to become green fingered?

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Composting with Browns, Greens, Water and Air

After being a “townie” for close to 20 years, I
have returned to the country and have been gradually working towards becoming
more self-sustainable in big and small ways. 
I have expanded the size of my garden, preserved my garden harvest
through canning/freezing, raised a small flock of chickens and, just recently,
started composting. I admit, it took me awhile to get on the composting
bandwagon. Every time I thought about the process of composting, I ended up
with more questions than answers and it was that uncertainty that kept me at
bay.

Gardener’s Supply Cedar Compost Bin

I could have maintained a big visible pile of compost but, and call me Felix Unger, I wanted to keep it contained in a neat and tidy compost bin. There are an overwhelming number of choices for composting units on the market to choose from, many of which are giant ugly plastic drums. I wanted a compost bin that was attractive and built to last, which is why I opted for a Gardener’s Supply Cedar Compost Bin. It’s not only pretty to look at, but the cedar smells really nice too. It was also very easy to assemble with a screwdriver. Gardener’s Supply also sells other cedar products such as raised gardening beds and potting benches if you are keen on having a cohesive look to your outdoor landscape.

So, you now have the composter sitting there
all pretty, but how do you compost? Is it as simple as dumping food scraps into
the bin and walking away? Not quite. There are four things to consider in order
to have successful compost: browns, greens, water and air. 

Gardener’s Supply Rustic Compost Crock

You need to maintain the proper proportions of “greens” (nitrogen) and “browns” (carbon). One source of “greens” is food scraps (including coffee grounds and tea bags), which you can collect on your kitchen countertop using a stylish Gardener’s Supply Rustic Compost Crock. Fresh grass clippings are another good “green” source. Conversely, “browns” include dry leaves, twigs, straw, paper napkins and newspapers. Some “composting no-no’s” include meat, dairy, diseased plants and pet feces. A good rule of thumb is to have at least twice as much brown as green; otherwise, you may need to approach your compost bin with a clothespin clamped over your nose. You will also invite odors and pests if you do not cover your newly added “greens” with a “brown” layer. Tossing in a little soil every now and then is good as well to introduce more organisms into the mix. 

Aerate your pile every now and then by
carefully turning the compost with a hoe or small shovel if you can. And, to
keep the micro-organisms alive, make sure that your compost is properly
hydrated but not over-saturated. Your greens will probably provide enough
moisture but, if they don’t, you might want to consider adding a little water.

How do you know if your compost is ready? On most
compost bins, there is a bottom access panel. Open this and inspect the
compost. If the compost is dark brown in color, feels crumbly and smells earthy,
then you’re good to scoop out what you need.

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Be a Gardening Wiz with a Gilmour Watering Wand

“Aguamenti!” Water then poured forth from Harry Potter’s watering wand over his hard-to-reach plants. 

Okay. Well, maybe that didn’t happen in the books. But if Harry Potter were a gardener (hey J.K. Rowling… “Harry Potter and the Garden”….), I’m sure he’d be using a Gilmour 8-Pattern Front Control watering wand because it’s magical to use. Just connect this watering wand to a Flexogen garden hose and you, too, will be put under its spell. It’ll be perfect for watering the magical plants in your garden such as centaury, gillyweed, shrivelfig, just to name a few. 

While this watering wand is not made of holly and phoenix feather like Harry’s famous wand, it does feature a durable metal arm that extends from 39 to 55.5 inches (99-141 cm.). The older wizards among us can really appreciate this feature. No more bending over to water plants near the root zone. No more tippy toe stretches or step ladders to water plants in hanging baskets. And no more struggling to reach those plants near the back of a deep garden bed. 

After watering with a Gilmour watering wand, you won’t need to enlist the help of a smart heroine, such as Hermione, in finding a pain-relieving spell in a dusty old tome for back aches – or hand fatigue either. The base of the watering wand features a front mounted trigger which requires 4 times less effort to operate than a rear mounted trigger, so you don’t have to grip or squeeze it too hard.

And while the use of a Gilmour watering wand does not require any in-depth training from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it is quite simple to use. With an adjustable watering head that features 8 spray patterns on a flow control dial, you will look like a gardening wiz as you easily find and apply the perfect pattern for any watering task (Flower, Sweep, Garden, Shrub, Clean, Soft Wash, Wash, Rinse, Jet).  

Watering wands aren’t just for hydrating plants either. I can just envision Ron Weasley using a Gilmour watering wand to spray away and dislodge insects like aphids and spider mites – all those scary “fantastic” beasts. And he would be brave in doing so as he would using the watering wand protracted at its maximum 55.5-inch length. It’s a great means of organic pest control. Also, consider using a watering wand for rinsing out your planters or washing away stray soil in your potting area.  

But you don’t need to be an actual wizard to use a Gilmour watering wand. It gives muggles all the power and control they need to water their garden where, when and how they want.

Experience the magic for yourself and get your very own Gilmour watering wand. Gilmour is currently offering a free shipping promo from 5/10 through 5/19, 11:59pm CT. It applies to all products, you just need to use the code “FREESHIP” at checkout!

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Becoming a Food Waste Warrior

This
month let’s just take a moment to consider what we could do to improve life on
our beautiful planet. If we each made some small upgrade every year, we’d most
certainly live in a healthier world. As gardeners, we already do make a great
contribution, and maybe we could do even more.

Sustainable Brilliance

Do you ever wonder what happens to all that grocery store produce when it gets limp and stale? Imagine the tons of vegetation and wasted food that gets tossed every day when grocers refresh their displays. One mindful food-waste warrior had a vision for the potential of this mass throwaway of aging foods. The result was LIFEFORCE™ 1-1-1,  a powerful, organic superfood for your garden made entirely from grocery store food waste.

This
high-quality food-based organic fertilizer solution with OMRI-certification
provides so much more than just the N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus) and K
(potassium) required by your garden. Imagine composting the wasted food from an
entire grocery store and reducing it down to a rich, nourishing liquid that
would make your plants grow strong, sturdy and productive. LIFEFORCE™ 1-1-1 is a
super-nutritious plant food that’s more powerful, and way more convenient than
compost. And, just in case you aren’t aware, not all organic products can pass
the rigorous testing and verifications needed to be OMRI-Certified.

What’s the Difference?

Using food waste sourced from grocery stores, the people at Lifeforce Organic have created a clean, sustainable fertilizer while salvaging the waste that would otherwise be squandered in our swelling landfills. You can use this super-nutritious supplement on your vegetables, flowers and lawns, knowing there are no chemicals or foreign ingredients that could be harmful to people or pets. LIFEFORCE™ 1-1-1 can be applied throughout your plants’ growth cycles – no worries about over-fertilizing. But, maybe more importantly, using this ingenious product means you’ve contributed in a big way to the sustainable practice of re-using food waste to create more abundant life on the planet.

A Higher Purpose

What’s
magical about nature is that using the complex nutrients from food that’s past
its prime, we can better feed the growth of beautiful new food. That natural cycle
is, in part, what fascinates gardeners – the beauty and simplicity of feeding
new food with old food that has broken down, deteriorated and returned to the earth.
Backyard composting has always been a creative part of gardening, but re-using
food on this scale is groundbreaking.

LIFEFORCE™
has harnessed an elevated level of composting by capturing grocery store waste!
It’s such a simple concept, it’s surprising it’s taken so long for this food
revolution to manifest. But it’s here now, and available in a convenient liquid
form. Repurposing grocery store food waste to strengthen the life force of your
growing plants…simply brilliant.

Now’s the Time

Make a decision this Earth Day to be a food-waste warrior! You love organics and LIFEFORCE™ 1-1-1 has clearly reached the highest pinnacle in organic fertilizing to date.  Know that while you’re bringing a safe, responsible and sustainable practice to your gardening, you’re doing your part to support our earth with OMRI-certified organic superfood. We wish you happy, conscious gardening and Happy Earth Day. 000000

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Is Gardening Ruining Your Skin: This Perfect Mother’s Day Gift Can Help

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re struggling for the perfect gift, then you may want to add some lotion to your list – in particular, Gloves In A Bottle shielding lotion. It works especially well for gardeners.

Why
Every Gardener Needs Gloves In A Bottle, Including Mom

Anyone
that spends time in the garden knows just how rough it can be on your hands.
Many gardeners, myself included, don’t always wear gloves. Like my mom, I enjoy
the feel of warm soil between my fingers. I can easily grab onto weeds and
pluck them from the ground more efficiently. Unfortunately, by season’s end our
hands may show all the wear and tear of those gardening tasks with dry, cracked
or irritated skin. Gloves In A Bottle not only offers relief from this, but
allows the skin to heal, resulting in softer, more luxuriant hands.

How is this different from other lotions? First of all, many conventional lotions contain artificial moisturizers, which may be great for softening skin temporarily, but this doesn’t really provide long-term relief of many types of skin conditions. However, shielding lotions, like Gloves In A Bottle, bond with the outer layer of skin cells to create an invisible shield (or barrier) that locks in natural moisture and oils.

This
protective lotion guards against dirt, grime, plant residues, and other
irritants from gardening and naturally restores the skin from the within,
leaving your hands looking and feeling soft and supple, even while working in
the garden! Gloves In A Bottle also helps prevent nail and cuticle damage, and
protects hands from the damaging effects of chemicals and weather that often
lead to dry, cracked skin. Even sufferers of eczema and psoriasis can find
relief.

When
You Don’t Use Gloves, Use Gloves In A Bottle!

It’s
not always feasible to wear those gardening gloves. And it’s not always
pleasant wearing lotions that leave your hands feeling greasy or wash off the
minute they come into contact with water. Gloves In A Bottle is water resistant
and provides protection up to 4 hours or more, coming off naturally with exfoliating
skin cells. It dries quickly and is barely noticeable on your skin. In fact,
it’s like wearing an invisible pair of gloves.

Don’t
let the joys of gardening leave their marks on Mom’s hands. Give her the skin
protection she needs and deserves. At just under $20, Gloves In A Bottle makes
a great, affordable Mother’s Day gift on its own, or add it to a gardening gift
basket or alongside her favorite flowers to plant in the garden.

We ladies are always looking for ways to improve our skin and Mom is no exception. This lotion is the answer to many of our skincare needs. No more dry, chapped, cracked, irritated, wrinkly or old-looking hands! What could be better than that? You mother will thank you and so will her soft hands.

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Ways to Turn Your Balcony into a Relaxing Haven

As any urban
dweller will tell you, space is limited; and when you have even just the
smallest nook, you need to make the most of it. With warmer weather (hopefully)
fast approaching, now is a great time to start thinking about cocktail recipes,
holiday planning and patio season.

If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony, you may consider transforming it into a small outdoor oasis. An escape from the bustle of the city streets below, and your own little vacation spot. You owe it to yourself, and your friends and family, to do a little more than just putting up a lawn chair and call it a day. While you may not have a huge, green backyard, there are still plenty of ways to create a cozy, stylish and welcoming balcony for any style and any budget. Below are four key style elements to consider when transforming your space from top to bottom.

Maximize Minimal Space

This is perhaps
the most important point on the list, as urban balconies tend to be miniscule.
Seating is a balcony essential, and can be tricky when dealing with such a
small space. Rather than opting for a traditional outdoor sofa or patio
furniture, you may consider trying a custom built-in bench that fits perfectly
along any wall and comes equipped with storage space underneath. You can add
cushions and blankets atop the bench, and use its storage space to store cozy
extras.

Standard benches
are also great, and a less permanent option. Foldable chairs and tables
complement any balcony nicely, and can be easily tucked away to free up floor
space. Alternatively, you can make further use of the cushions by using them
for seating, which is a great option if you’re renting and not interested in
investing in patio furniture.

Fairy lights and
planters are great accessories for any railing, and instantly add a lush and
cozy vibe to the outdoor space. The best part is that they don’t take up any
floor space, and provide the perfect ambience for either relaxing me-time, or
late-night cocktails with friends.

Don’t Forget Your Walls & Ceiling

You’re guaranteed to have at least one wall and a ceiling in your balcony, and in the spirit of maximizing space, these features shouldn’t be neglected. Make your dreams of a sprawling lawn come true (at least partially) by installing a vertical garden. These wooden planters sit against your wall and have shelves to accommodate pots that you can fill with your favorite flora and fauna. There are, however, a number of variations of the vertical garden. You can also opt to install individual planters along your wall in specific arrangements, or choose hanging pots to drape around your balcony.

In addition to
plants, you may consider installing floating shelves to display plants,
succulents and water-resistant artwork. You can even throw in some books if you’d
like to create a cozy reading nook—just ensure you bring them inside afterwards to avoid exposure to the
elements. Your balcony is an extension of your home, so don’t be afraid to
incorporate homey elements such as photographs, a clock and other knick-knacks.

Contrary to popular belief, ceilings are conducive to a
variety of space-saving seating options. You may consider investing in a trendy
eggshell chair or hammock, both of which can be suspended from the ceiling and
provide cozy and relaxing spots, ideal for pretending you’re on holiday.

Keep Things Sweet & Simple

Adopting a
minimalist, Scandinavian approach to transforming a small balcony space is
ideal. It’s often best not to overthink the decorative process, and it should
be focused on serving your needs. Sometimes, all you need is a small table with
a couple of chairs. If your balcony doesn’t have a transparent railing, you may
consider an elevated table and bar stools to offer you views of the skyline and
cityscape. If the railings are clear, you can opt for a couple of chaise
lounges if you’re seeking to create a space of relaxation rather than
entertaining.

Plants and lights
are other simple design elements that can be used to warm up your space, or add
privacy from your neighbors, as taller plants can be used as a makeshift wall
and also provide shade. Even if your balcony is so small that you can’t fit any
furniture, there’s always room for flowers and plants.

Cozy is Key

Many balcony
floors are made from cold and unsightly cement; however, there are a few easy
design options to combat this. Try a large area rug in a cool pattern
or vibrant hue that matches your style. Rugs are a great way to tie a space
together and provide warmth. Just remember that depending on the climate of the
city you live in, you may be wary of the material and style of carpet you
choose.

As aforementioned,
pillows and large cushions are another great way to add an instantly cozy
element to your outdoor space. Try spreading them around your floor space as
seating alternatives and expressions of your personality. Like rugs, there are
a number of style, color and pattern options that can easily be switched out to
match your current mood and aesthetic.

Balcony furniture
doesn’t have to be lavish and expensive to transform your small space into a
relaxing outdoor oasis. Whether you’re looking to create a space for outdoor
dining, relaxation, entertaining or anything in between, there are a number of
style elements that you can use to match your needs, style and budget. Once you
have a basic layout with a few key pieces, all that’s left is to add in a few
personal touches: perhaps a bistro set, decorative knick-knacks, a dish and
cutlery set, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Use
these tips to create the ideal balcony, grab a refreshing drink and enjoy your
new space. So whether you’re looking
to buy your patio furniture online
or in store, keep these tips in mind and
you’ll be well on your way to your very own balcony haven.

fff

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DIY In-Ground Irrigation in Less Than 30 Minutes

Sprinkler systems are a convenient and water saving way to keep your turf grass green and healthy. However, installing such systems is costly, or if you do it yourself, labor intensive. Rain Bird is a company that has been leading the landscape irrigation field for generations. They cut their teeth on sprinkler systems but have come up with a whole new way to water the garden, one that takes minutes to install and conveniently retracts into the ground so maintenance around the system is easy too.

Click-n-Go

If digging trenches and moving sod and soil around doesn’t sound like something you want to spend time on, try the LG3HE In-Ground Sprinkler with Click-n-Go Hose Connect. The unit comes with the Click-N-Go fitting that you place on the hose. Once in place, you just pull back on the housing and the hose securely connects to the unit without twisting or turning. With a quick snap, the sprinkler is ready for operation and reversing the procedure causes the sprinkler to retract back into the ground. The system is so easy to connect a child could do it. The unit is lightweight but durable and covers up to 41 feet (12.5 m). Best of all, all you need is a shovel and about 20 minutes of time to install the unit. Installation just requires a small hole, big enough to fit the unit into, and then you just backfill around. Installation couldn’t be easier and requires no special techniques or extra muscle.

Click-n-Go Install

This
in-ground sprinkler has up to 5,200 square feet (1,585 sq. m.) of coverage and
is adjustable. You can set it for full coverage or part circle coverage. There
is a handy guide that will help you estimate how many units you will need for
your landscape and how to adjust each so you get perfect coverage for your area.
To operate the units, you simply remove the lid and click a hose to the
connection. The pressure of the water will push the sprinkler head up above the
soil level and begin watering. Once irrigation is complete, just disconnect the
hose and the sprinkler head retracts into the lawn for a clean appearance. This
allows you to mow and do other maintenance without tripping over sprinkler
heads.

Click-n-Go Lifestyle

In
addition, the In-Ground Impact Sprinklers are very economical at just $39.99
each. If you consider the back-breaking work of trenching and installing your
own sprinkler system, or the cost of hiring a company to do it for you, this is
a very reasonable and sensible unit which can be expanded as needed. Plus, you
don’t need to contract a company to come blow out your sprinkler system when
winter is around the corner. You can set the unit in the ground and forget
about it until temperatures warm up and it is needed again.

This self-install type of system will provide efficient operation and cost-saving installation and maintenance. Plus, it comes from a company that gardeners have trusted for more than 80 years. Their professional commitment and leadership in the irrigation industry are unmatched. The In-Ground Impact Sprinkler is a simple way for you to conquer your irrigation needs yourself in a quick and durable manner.

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The Back Tool That Makes Gardening Easy

Ah, spring…
such an inspiring time of year for devoted gardeners. But it’s also the season
of going to bed with achy arms, back, knees, feet, and even carpal tunnel syndrome.
We love gardening, but let’s face it, sometimes it hurts, right? So, any time
there’s a new way to make gardening easier on the body, my ears perk up.

PUSH/PULL

Shoveling
snow or just raking up winter’s chaos from the yard can really take a toll on
your back and arms. Then spring demands that we rake away dead leaves and winter
debris. Hoeing those newly sprouted mini-weeds each spring is one of the worst
pain culprits for me. Turning your compost with a shovel can set you back a
notch and then, when you’re ready for new soil in your fresh garden bed, you
have to push and pull the soil with a heavy rake or shovel to level your
planting surface. Simple daily outdoor tasks make gardening more of a challenge
than it should be. So, save your brute strength for something more meaningful.

BackEZ ergonomic handle

Here’s an amazingly simple idea that some smart (read: sore) person decided to patent: Any tool in your shed with a long-stick handle – hoe, rake, shovel, broom, power washer, squeegee, pitchfork – can be converted into a super tool with one surprisingly practical plastic add-on offset handle. The BackEZ ergonomic handle makes work with a stick tool easier on your body, helps you do the job more quickly, and requires way less energy.

ERGONOMICS

Ergonomics
is a rather dull term for basic body comfort, but when you’re an ambitious
gardener, ergonomics becomes critical. This great handle helps to create more
force at the working end of the tool. Rather than laboring with both wrists on
the pole, one hand is controlling and balancing while the other is pushing or
pulling to generate the power you need. 

Using
this BackEZ offset handle can actually decrease your muscle strain by 30%.
That’s a lot. It can also cut down on back bending by up to 10 inches (25 cm.),
which is remarkable. Standing up straight while you work is key to a
comfortable back.

The BackEZ
people designed an auxiliary offset handle so simple that it slips and locks easily
onto your “stick” tools and, once you use it, I’m pretty sure you won’t go
back. Grabbing the comfortable handle with one hand and holding your tool’s stick-pole
with the other actually changes the center of gravity. It’s so much easier to
do heavy jobs this way. You can secure the handle onto the pole where it’s most
comfortable for your height and arm length – the relief for your back is
remarkable, not to mention the added ease for your arm muscles.

TAKE IT EASY

If
you’ve ever had a back injury, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or just a sore
gardener’s body, you’ll love having these virtual life savers in the garden and
around your home. If you aren’t impressed already, here are a few more details
about this remarkable little gadget:

  • It comes in
    different colors to help you spot which tool you’re looking for.
  • Its hex tool
    tightener tucks inside the handle.
  • It’s roomy enough that
    a gloved fist can grasp it with no problem.
  • It can withstand
    extreme temperatures.
  • It weighs only 7.3
    ounces.
  • It’s inexpensive.

The best part of the BackEZ is what it does for your back. Let’s be honest. Gardening can be painful, but it shouldn’t be. And now it doesn’t have to. This amazing product is available through Amazon. For just under $10, you can get this tool add-on and experience pain-free gardening and other push/pull tasks year-round.

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How to Remove and Replant Mature Trees

Transplanting trees is not ideal. In a
perfect world, we would plant a tree and leave it to mature and thrive in
peace. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, it might become necessary to
move your tree. Perhaps you are moving home and you can’t bear to leave your
beautiful magnolia tree behind. Or maybe you want to extend your deck and a
small apple tree is in the wrong location. Whatever your reason for
transplanting a tree or shrub, here are some essential guidelines to follow.

Carry
Out a Tree Assessment

Trees and mature shrubs can be moved, but
it causes them a lot of stress, so there is always a risk that they will die
from the shock. Obviously, this is the last thing you want, especially with a
much-loved mature tree.

Assess the tree before you think about
moving it. Is the tree healthy? It’s a bad idea to try and move a tree
suffering from a pest infestation or disease. In addition, the older the tree
is, the more likely it is that it will succumb to shock, plus it will require
more after care.

Remember, also, that the tree’s new
location must be suitable. If you move a tree that prefers full sun into a
heavily shaded area, you could inadvertently kill it off.

Please bear in mind that is always better to hire a professional arborist to move a large, mature tree that’s more than three years old. Professionals, such as Daryl’s Tree Care, are fully trained in the correct procedures, including removing dead trees and stumps. They can assess what needs to be done and whether moving the tree is likely to cause a hazard.

If your tree is not too large and/or
mature, read on.

Correct
Time of Year to Remove and Replant

The worst time to replant a tree is during
the growing season. In other words, don’t start digging up your tree in spring
or summer. Trees are best replanted when they are in a dormant state, i.e.
during the autumn and winter. Also, remember that birds often use trees as a
place to nest during the spring and summer, so moving the tree could cause
considerable harm to nesting birds.

Prepare
Your Tree

The tree needs to be well hydrated before
it’s moved, as a significant part of its root system will be lost in the
process. Water the tree well for several days prior to removing it.

Removal
Day

First, prepare the new location. Make sure
the hole is large enough.

Remove the topsoil around the root ball.
Using a shovel, carefully dig under the root ball. This task shouldn’t be too
difficult if you watered the area thoroughly.

Lift the tree out of the hole and wrap the
root ball in a tarpaulin to protect it. Move it to its new location, remove the
tarpaulin, and replant it as soon as possible, preferably on the same day.

Fill in the hole with a mixture of organic
matter, topsoil, and compost. Finish with a layer of mulch.

Water the tree as soon as it’s replanted
and continue doing so for a couple of years until the new root system is well
established.

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Tips for Designing a Low Maintenance Garden

Gardens are an absolute joy for many
people. They gain enormous pleasure from puttering around in their garden,
planting, weeding, pruning, and watching their efforts blossom. But maintaining
a garden can be time consuming, and if you have a busy career and/or a family,
you might not have a lot of spare time to devote to your garden.

As we all know, neglecting a garden is a
bad idea. Weeds soon take over and before you know it, your well-tended flower
beds are a tangled jungle of unruly vegetation and your lawn is a hot mess. It
isn’t ideal and is definitely not somewhere you can chill out in the summer.

One way to ensure your garden is in tip-top condition is to hire a gardening service like Jim’s Mowing & Gardening. Professionals can come in and mow your lawn, weed the borders, and take care of any pruning and planting. All you have to do is settle the bill and enjoy the fruits of their labor. But if you would rather get your hands dirty, a low-maintenance garden might be a better option.

Minimize
Flower Beds and Borders

Design a low maintenance garden from day
one and you can spend more time enjoying your garden than sweating buckets. To
do this, reduce the number of flower beds you have since these are where the
majority of the work lies.

Decking
and Patios

Instead of borders, lay decking or a
patio. Decking still requires maintenance, but it’s mostly a case of resealing
the timber once a year rather than digging up weeds every weekend. If you do
want to keep some flower beds, use weed membrane or thick mulch to keep weeds
to a minimum and go for plants that offer excellent ground cover.

Get rid of your lawn. In the summer, grass
needs cutting around twice weekly. In a large garden, this can easily take a
couple of hours, which soon eats into your weekend. Replace a lawn with paving,
gravel, and other hard surfaces. You can still plant things, but there will be
a lot less upkeep.

Alternatively, if you have kids or pets,
consider switching to artificial turf instead. Modern fake lawns look very
natural and provide a long-lasting surface for pets and children to play on.

Pots
and Planters

Planting flowers, annuals, herbs, and
other small plants in pots and planters is a low-maintenance way to add color
and interest to your garden. For instant color, fill a selection of pots with vibrant
bedding plants. When they die back in late summer/early autumn, replace them
with annuals. You could also fill pots up with flowering bulbs for a great
display of color in spring.

Container gardening is ideal for
low-maintenance gardeners. They are easy to move around and you can even plant
veggies in containers.

Wildflower
Gardens

A carefully cultivated garden is
attractive, but don’t be afraid to let your garden become a wildlife haven. Sow
a selection of wildflower seeds and let nature take its course. Carve out an
area where you can sit and watch the local wildlife; your garden will take care
of itself.

When planting, look for plant varieties
that require minimal pruning and are very hardy. 

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Potted Plants That Pop Indoors: Fiddle Leaf Fig & Friends

We all love a nice trailing pothos, a quirky air plant, and
a frilly fern in our houseplant collections, but sometimes you just want
something big or dramatic that’s going to pop.
One of those potted houseplants that commands space and demands attention.
Enter the fiddle leaf fig and several of its drama-loving cohorts — these
houseplants are no shrinking violets, so use them boldly. Loud and proud,
friends, loud and proud.

fiddle leaf fig tree in the cement pot.

Fiddle Leaf Fig: (Ficus lyrata) Quite possibly the “it”
houseplant du jour, fiddle leaf fig graces the corners of many stylish living
rooms (and magazine covers) with its oversized leaves, smooth trunk, and 6-10’
height. Give it bright, indirect light, regular watering, plenty of humidity,
and a draft-free space, and you’re good to go.

Alocasia: (Alocasia sanderiana) Anything that has a
common name of “elephant ears” is sure to jumbo-sized. This tropical plant
grows anywhere from 2 – 15’ tall and 2 – 8’ wide, so know which type you have
and plan your space (and container) accordingly. Architectural, heart-shaped
leaves come in jewellike tones and can grow as large as a couple of feet
across. It prefers bright, indirect light, evenly moist (but never soggy, thank you) soil, and high
humidity.

Rubber Tree: (Ficus elastica) Out in the wild, rubber
tree actually grows up to 60’ tall, but in your living room you can expect a
starter tree to be a foot tall and grow up to 10’ tall. Its medium green glossy
leaves are elliptical-shaped with upright stems, giving your interior a
decidedly tropical look. Rubber tree prefers a little — but not too much —
light and water, so you may have to experiment a bit. Bright, indirect light
with soil that is damp but not dry or wet seems to do the trick.

Citrus Tree: While most citrus trees love outdoor sun, several grow quite well indoors, especially as an overwintered container plant. Choose a lemon, lime, or orange tree in a dwarf variety — a 2-3-year-old tree is ideal so you won’t have to wait too long for fruiting. Because citrus trees have definite opinions about their accommodations, use potting soil specially formulated for citrus (G&B Organics Palm, Cactus & Citrus Planting Mix is perfect), and give them bright light by a south-facing window. As for watering, aim for “on the dry side of moist” particularly during the winter months, and from spring to summer, feed every 3 weeks with a high nitrogen fertilizer made for citrus.

Variegated Ficus: (Ficus benjamina) Possibly one of the
most common of the large houseplants, variegated ficus tree can reach heights
of 10-12’ with a spread of 4’ across, and boasts smaller glossy green and cream
leaves. While it’s often trained as a tree with one trunk, it is also grown as
a more bush-like form with leaves from top to bottom.  It loves consistency above all else, so once
you find that magic spot of bright indirect light and medium-to-low water —
keep it there, or the tree will voice its discontent by dropping its leaves.

Stylish room interior with young olive tree

Olive Tree: Want
a little bit of Tuscany in your home? Try an olive tree! With its light,
sage-hued leaves and airy growth habit (up to 10’ tall), it adds a touch of Old
World sophistication to any décor. Place it by a sunny, south-facing window, in
well-drained soil and let the soil dry out a bit in between waterings to mimic
its Mediterranean origins. Most indoor olive trees, however, are of the
ornamental rather than fruiting variety, so if you want actual olives, you’ll
need to grow a different variety outdoors.

Pro Tip: Selecting the proper soil for houseplants is critical. Never use regular garden soil — aim for a high quality soil mix created for indoor containers, like Kellogg Garden Products All Natural Potting Mix. This great soil environment retains moisture, requiring less watering. 

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Keeping Your Feet Safe and Comfortable in the Garden

If
you’re a gardener, then you know how important it is to be comfortable while
working outdoors. This not only includes clothing, as well as hats and gloves,
but footwear too. In fact, protecting your feet is of utmost importance and
many of us, unfortunately, likely don’t think about this until it’s too late.
And, yes, I’m guilty myself. I live in the South where the heat and humidity
can be nearly unbearable at times, and the thought of wearing anything other
than trusty flip flops or thin canvas sneakers seems absurd. But, in truth, it
is absurd to don those flip flops or sneakers in the garden and here’s why –
they simply don’t offer your feet suitable protection, they don’t keep your
feet dry, and they can become ruined when worn in these dirty environments.

I’ve
not only had to deal with poison ivy due to exposed skin, but also numerous
mosquito bites. And, of course, there’s always the danger of being bitten by a
spider or even snakes in some areas. I’ve also had the misfortune of stepping
on sharp debris, going clean through my thin flip flops and into my tender
flesh. And my white tennis shoes are a not-so-nice shade of red mud despite
numerous washings. So, what’s a gardener to do?

There are actually many options available for suitable garden footwear, but my all-time favorite has to be my handy-dandy Muck boots. They’re not only the comfiest pair of garden boots I own, but they keep my feet dry regardless of all the “muck” and water I may be trampling around in. That’s why I was more than happy to hear about their new spring line which celebrates the 20-year heritage of the Original Muck Boot Company.

I just got a pair of the new Muckster booties, but they have gardening shoes and clogs too. Whatever your preference, you can rest easy knowing that your feet won’t only be comfy and dry, but safe. No more poison ivy on these feet. No more bug bites. And nothing penetrating the bottom of my feet. No need in worrying about ruining my boots with mud and muck either because they’re easy to clean…just spray them down or wipe off. They’re totally waterproof so you can even hose them down while you’re wearing them. You can also slip them off and on just as easily as those flip flops. And, speaking of slip, there won’t be any slipping or sliding with these, another safety issue with slick bottomed sandals or sneakers. My booties, and many of the others in this spring line, offer a new high traction, rubber outsole that can handle wet surfaces with ease.

I
love wearing mine throughout winter cause they keep my feet nice and toasty,
but I can also wear them during warmer weather in spite of the heat since
they’re made with a breathable, air-mesh lining. The real kicker with my Muck
boots is the fact that, although you’d think they’re simply for mucking around
in the garden, they can be used for so much more. I said it before and I’ll say
it again, these are the most comfortable boots (and gardening footwear) I own.
So much so that I wear them just about everywhere. (My daughter tends to make
fun of me for this, but I don’t care – she wears flip flops year round so…)
They’re stylish enough to go with everyday wear. In fact, my booties fold down
like a shoe and have a pretty floral pattern that coordinates with a number of
my outfits. The flex foam cushions my feet like a swaddled baby. So why
wouldn’t I want to wear them all the time?

It
doesn’t matter if I’m out in the garden, running errands, walking my dog,
grocery shopping, or even picking up my grand baby from daycare, you can bet
I’ll be wearing my dependable Mucksters. These boots were made for
walking…and more.

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4 Greenhouse Growing Tips for Beginners

Growing plants and veggies in your greenhouse can be a very satisfying hobby. But this is a hobby that requires knowledge and skill. The learning curve in this domain can be quite steep because many factors affect the success of yield and their growth rate. If you are new to greenhouse growing and still learning your way through the various techniques, the following tips may help to get everything right from your first season:

1.   
Light and ventilation sources

Summer and spring are two seasons when the plants will get a lot of natural light, but if you decide to grow in late winter or during autumn, you need to arrange for supplementary lighting. The greenhouse directs the artificial light to the plants during the daytime. You can also use LED grow lights if you want the plants to receive extended periods of light. Depending on the size of your greenhouse, you can choose from the wide range of fluorescent lights or LED grow light strips.

Apart from paying attention
to the lighting, you should also ensure that the plants receive enough cool
air. Summers can be quite suffocating inside the greenhouse if you don’t keep
the vents open. You can get a customized greenhouse built where you can specify
the precise points for the vents. Always ensure that there are vents along the
sides of the greenhouse and a few vents on the top. This allows the hot air to
escape from the top while cooler air enters the unit from the sides.

2.    Seasonal starting
seeds

Greenhouses give your plants
an extended growing season. So, if you sow the seeds during spring or early
summer, there are high chances that you will have vegetables all year round.
Planning the growing schedule is essential. You should always stock up seeds to
produce a good yield. Additionally, you should also invest in a suitable
organic fertilizer, sterile soil, containers, and a heat source. The heat
source will prevent the seeds from freezing in winter.

3.    Heating

The winter is the best time
to learn how to maintain your greenhouse. Since you are new to greenhouse
growing, you need to install an electric heater to balance out the temperature
inside the greenhouse. Depending on the size of the greenhouse, you can either
install a 120-volt heater or a 240-volt heater. Make sure that a reliable
thermostat controls the heater. Increase the temperature of the heater as the
outside temperature dips.

4.    Watering the plants

You shouldn’t fix a set schedule to water the plants. Many newbie gardeners think that watering the plants twice or thrice a day is ideal. That is not the right approach. You should water the plants according to their demands, the temperature conditions, humidity, and their growth stage. Plants at a very young age require more water compared to when they are older. Also, they will need more water in summer than in winter. You can use a moisture meter to understand if the plants need water or not.

Greenhouse growing can be a
fascinating hobby, especially if you are ready to learn new things. These four
expert tips should go a long way as you learn the intricacies of greenhouse
gardening.

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Planting It Forward For Planet Earth

We,
the gardeners, are custodians and protectors of the earth. Yes, that’s you…an
authentic guardian of the constant cycle of life. When we #plantitforward,
we’re doing our small part.

Conscious Planting

You patiently
amend and work your soil. When you release that vibrant plant from its pot and
situate it in the earth, you cover its roots with a rich blanket of nutrients
and administer a dose of clear water. Do you realize that, in this moment,
you’ve made a real, genuine difference on the planet? You have personally linked
up with the earth in compensating for and correcting climate change. You’ve
endowed one small area with a natural habitat for countless birds, insects and
other living creatures. You’ve reduced the CO2 in the air and helped reduce pollution.

When you choose new plants, you want them to thrive and flourish under your care. You want to know that careful growers have nurtured them from infancy under optimal conditions. At your local nursery, you’re probably choosing a plant from Monrovia, a premiere grower of some of the most gorgeous plants in the world. And, just like you, Monrovia is doing its part to help the environment.

Their
beautifully grown plants reflect the multiple joys of gardening. Our personal
gardens, in addition to delivering beauty and nutrition, support the
environment and feed the very soul of nature.

Planting for the Planet

Monrovia is such an earth-conscious company, they’ve partnered with Plant-for-the-Planet, a group with an ambitious plan to fight our climate crisis. This organization is all about planting trees around the world, literally. Their mind-boggling goal is one trillion trees! Monrovia has teamed up for the challenge because Plant-for-the-Planet is not only just a great idea, but a global movement with the intention to bring about environmental healing in the best way possible.

How can
we help? Since humans now number over 7 billion in population, it’s more
important than ever to #plantitforward, to do what we can to conserve and
enrich our planet’s resources, and provide a safer haven for ecosystems that
have begun to struggle under our impact. “Remember, no garden is too small. It
all adds up!”

Whether
we go big or keep it small, these gardening efforts let us contribute directly
to earth’s natural ecosystems, our humbly personal gift of healing. And this
kind of earth consciousness is Monrovia’s life work. Every day they plant,
cultivate, and propagate the highest quality, sturdiest and most beautiful
plants you can buy. Since 1926, they’ve been proud to “help grow the next
generation of plants stronger and more beautiful for the next generation of
humans.”

So,
go forward and garden. And, while you’re at it, click here to enter the PLANT IT FORWARD
SWEEPSTAKES
.
Join this awesome campaign and let’s keep planting for the environment!

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Nothing Could be Finer Than Some “Foodilizer” for the Garden

Are
you looking for a way to grow better plants without the need for chemical
fertilizers and the like? Have you tried composting but just can’t seem to wait
that long for it to finish? Yea, me too. So, what if you could still
organically improve your soil for optimal growth without waiting months on
end…how about within hours instead? Does that pique your interest some? Yep, me
too.

This is actually quite possible with “foodilizer.” What the heck is that? I’m glad you asked because that was also my first question. Just like compost, foodilizer results from food waste, only it’s somewhat different. First, it’s all done inside! That’s right. All you need to make the magic happen is the FoodCycler™ FC-30, an in-home composting unit that is not only easy to use and maintain, but it’s odorless, environmentally friendly and, in as little as 3-6 hours (on average), reduces your kitchen scraps by up to 90%. The final product is a nutrient-rich soil amendment that’s ideal for use in the garden. And, while it may not be compost, it can help your plants grow better and faster.

One
thing I like about the FoodCycler™, besides the foodilizer, is that it’s small enough
to fit on the kitchen counter and light enough at just 20 pounds to be easily
moved. I don’t have a lot of counter space so it’s not intrusive. The main
thing that I noticed and loved when using the product was that it’s quiet. I
was expecting a loud racket as it dried and grinded the food, but it didn’t.
Unless you’re sitting right next to it, you’d barely even know it was on.

And
this brings me to how it works, which is totally easy. You simply fill the
removable bucket with all your leftover food scraps, cooked and uncooked (approximately
2-3 lbs). You can pretty much toss anything into the FoodCycler™ that you would
the compost pile, although with a few exceptions. For example, it can handle a
few small bones, meat, and citrus rinds BUT steer clear of any large, hard bones
or big peach pits and nuts/shells. Also, leave out sticky candy or gum and cooking
oils or grease. It’s best to stick with regular table scraps, fruit rinds,
eggshells, etc. You can even add things like cake and bread, but again, in
small quantity. I added my used coffee grounds too. Keep in mind that whatever
you put in the FoodCycler™ you’ll want to make certain there’s a good mix, just
as you would with composting, to prevent it from becoming too mucky or gooey.

End product – foodilizer

Once
the bucket is filled, place it inside the main unit, lock the lid, and begin
processing. That’s it! No need for turning or mixing. No need for water. No
chemicals, no venting, no draining. Just go about your normal routine and the FoodCycler™
takes care of the rest – quietly and efficiently breaking down the food waste
into small particles while it’s heated and sterilized. Depending on the type
and amount of food scraps or moisture, the entire process can take as little as
3-6 hours. Mine took about 7 hours, likely due to the high moisture content of
all the fruit that I tossed in there after cleaning the fridge – still no
biggie. Waiting for compost is much longer.

The
carbon filter filtration system eliminates odors, so there’s no worries about
the house stinking up. Once
processing is complete, the unit automatically shuts off. Then you can empty
the contents, which can be used in the garden, your houseplants, or spread on
your lawn. Don’t expect this to look like dark brown, crumbly, earthy smelling
compost either. It’s different. In fact, the form of the foodilizer by-product
appears differently depending on the type of food waste that’s processed.

  • Fish or cooked
    vegetables may appear in a fine powder form.
  • Uncooked fruits/veggies
    may take on a small cereal-like appearance.
  • Starchy and
    cake-like items will have a thicker, chunkier texture.

My
end product was somewhere in the middle…kind of looked like mulch but with a
nice coffee-like aroma. The before and after was really cool!

It is recommended that you allow this foodilizer to cure for about a week prior to using it, which gives you time to make more. Then you simply mix it into the garden at a ratio of 1 part foodilizer to 10 parts soil. Since the dehydration phase of the cycle eliminates bacteria, your foodilizer won’t have the microbes that compost generates BUT the company does offer foodilizer tablets, which help regenerate the microbial quality in compost if that’s important to you. Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine and beneficial to use this nutrient-rich, quick-release fertilizer as is. Your plants will thank you in the end with lush, healthy growth!

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5 Important Strategies for Green Roof Maintenance

Installing a green roof is an excellent way to conserve energy, improve stormwater runoff, and increase urban biodiversity, among many other benefits. Maintaining a green roof can prove challenging but worthwhile. To aid in your venture of maintaining a green roof, we’ve compiled 5 key strategies for keeping your green roof going strong for years to come.

Conduct Soil Tests

As any gardener
will tell you, soil is the most essential element to growing anything
successfully. All plants thrive in specific soil types with differing pH
balances, mineral deposits, moisture levels, and so on.

Conducting an
annual soil test will provide you with the necessary information to keep your
soil perfectly tuned to the grass you are growing. Adjusting the soil
afterwards is typically as simple as adding a nutrient topically.

Add Irrigation

Particularly
important while you are initially establishing the grass on your green roof,
proper irrigation can go a long way toward its health and wellness. A good
strategy might be to set up temporary overhead irrigation systems while the
roots of the grass are being established. Once your roof is lush with green
grass, consider installing more permanent dripline irrigation to maintain a
hassle-free watering system.

You’ll also need
to take your climate into consideration when planning your irrigation system.
Drier climates will require a more regular watering while moist climates may
only need occasional irrigation.

Reduce Weeds

Just like with
any more typical lawn, weeds are the bane of a green roof’s existence. Birds
and even wind can cause the spread of weeds to your green roof, so do not make
the mistake of assuming it is immune. Weeds can be especially problematic if
they grow deep root systems that cause damage to the underlying structural
portion of your roof.

Regular weeding
with both chemical application and physical removal will be necessary to avoid
any future disaster to your green roof. Not to mention, this will help maintain
an impeccably beautiful aesthetic.

Fertilize

Again, if you
think of your green roof as essentially a lawn, fertilizing becomes a natural
step in the process of maintenance. Regular (roughly annual or bi-annual)
fertilization will aid in the prevention of weed growth as well as supply
important nutrients to the soil.

Choose
fertilizers that do not contain animal waste, as they can have an overall
negative impact on the soil. Using slow-release fertilizer during the spring
can help ensure your green roof is a lush green all summer long.

Replace Dead Plants

If any part of
your green roof (grass or otherwise) has not survived, it’s important to remove
any dead components before they negatively impact the surrounding soil. You can
take note from the previous steps, like soil tests and irrigation, to try and
understand why a portion of your roof may not be doing as well.

Conclusion

As with any gardening or lawncare endeavor, a green roof requires care
and attention to thrive. Using these steps for proper green roof maintenance
will help ensure your green roof is healthy and beautiful for the long haul. If
you are having trouble on your own and need help with keeping regular
maintenance, you can always use a 
resource like MyRoofingPal to connect you
to the professionals necessary for all your roofing needs.

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Finding the Perfect Plants for Your Garden – Online

Finding the right plant for any space in the garden helps tie everything together, minimizes maintenance and ensures seamless beauty and use. The trick is in vetting the plant to make sure it not only is the right size, color, and variety, but also fits in your zone, soil type and exposure. Bluestone Perennials takes the guesswork out of figuring all this out with a handy plant finder feature available on their website. All you have to do is answer a handful of questions and you’ll get a number of suggestions for the perfect plant.

Bluestone Perennials is a second
generation, family owned, customer-friendly operation. They provide a 100 %
guarantee on their selections, use eco-friendly coir pots, and provide
gardening tips for novice to expert gardeners. In addition to helping you find
the perfect plant, you can be comforted by their ecologically responsible
growing and shipping, combined with helpful online and direct contact customer
services. With the unparalleled guarantee, the company either refunds or
reships immediately, providing carefree shopping.

The
plant finder is a godsend for those hard to define planting sites. For
instance, if you live in USDA zone 4 and have sandy soil in a partially shady
area, you simply enter those facts and a list of potential plants will come up.
If you want to narrow it further, such as finding a blooming plant or shrub,
add that too. A wide variety of suitable plants will appear like magic. Entering
the above information results in a number of beautiful options that include hellebores,
lacy ferns, and heuchera. And in a zone 8, acidic soil, full sun location, you’ll
find boldly colored lupine, whimsical anemone, sweet smelling phlox and
collections of Hemerocallis to be just some of magnificent plants from which to
choose.

Once
you have the optimal plant or plants, they will arrive in protective cardboard
sleeves and boxes that are recyclable or biodegradable. The coir pots can go
right into the ground, reducing transplant shock and allowing oxygen to
penetrate and promote healthy root growth. Over time, these amazing pots will
degrade into the soil. Bluestone Perennials is a leader in the industry in
reducing plastic waste and promoting a cleaner, greener future. The family
owned operation is backed by long-term, loyal employees who hand pack each
plant and inspect it for health. Your new plant will arrive healthy and ready
to install with minimal packing that you can compost or put into your municipal
recycle bin.

Every
plant is different and requires very specific growing conditions. It can be
very exciting selecting new plants but a little daunting too. With the Bluestone
Perennials plant finder
, however, you have the perfect partner to ensure your
gardening success.

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Gardening Activity Box – Getting Kids Back Outdoors and into Nature

If you’re the kind of parent or grandparent that laments the limited time kids spend out of doors these days, there are great learning toys to help change that. Kids gardening tools and garden activity sets are perfect for your child or grandchild who needs more time outside. These toys not only teach basic gardening and nature skills, they also help cultivate a sense of responsibility for growing plants.

STEM-Focused Learning Toys

Play-based
learning that gets kids outside and into the garden to learn about how plants
grow is STEM-approved. These kinds of toys are fun, but they also provide
science lessons. Gardening teaches children about how plants start from seeds
and grow with the addition of water, soil, and sunlight.

There are so many
linked lessons too. Gardening is a great opportunity to learn more about nature
and ecosystems. Kids in the garden learn about insects and other critters and
how they interact with plants. They can explore how some are beneficial to
gardens and that some plants and insects may be invasive and damaging to the
local ecosystem.  

Gardening Fosters Empathy and Responsibility

Learning toys that
include gardening activities are not just for fun or even for learning basic
skills and foundational science ideas. They also help foster particular human
values that all parents want to see their kids develop.

Gardening and
starting plants from seeds is a great way to learn responsibility. Kids get the
reward of seeing their daily efforts to water and tend to seedlings result in
full-grown plants. This care for other living creatures, even plants, also
helps to build empathy and respect for others.

Gardening Activity Box is Everything You Need

For that child or grandchild glued to screens indoors, the Roca Big Gardening Activity Box has everything necessary to break that tie. With gardening supplies and activities, your favorite little person will be happy to let go of the device and get his or her hands in the dirt. The activity box is designed to present STEM learning, a chance to get outside and connect to nature, and a solid way to develop empathy and responsibility. It has everything you need to get your child more interested in these important skills and ideas.

The all-in-one box
comes with a set of kids gardening tools, including a spade for digging in the
dirt. It has four biodegradable planters for starting seeds and growing at
least four different types of plants. You’ll also get some related toys and
activities, like a bee mask and crayons to color it as well as a DIY picture
frame. A learning guide about beneficial insects in the garden rounds out this
excellent outdoor, educational and fun toy box.

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Transforming Outdoor Spaces with Multi-Level Planters

We
just bought a new house and, like every new homeowner, we’re excited to put our
personal touch on what is already a gorgeous property. While the yard is
minimally landscaped, I’m itching to dig in the dirt myself and I like to have
plenty of color and easily accessible herbs right outside my back door. There
is a beautiful stone deck but no adjacent landscaping, which leaves me an open
canvas – every gardener’s dream!

But
what if you want all your flowers, herbs and veggies close at hand? The perfect
solution not only provides quick access to salad greens and herbs along with
plenty of seasonal blooms, but it can transform nearly any outdoor space into a
gardener’s paradise. Leisure Season
Multi-Level Planters

are the answer to those dreams.

These
multi-level planters feature four separate compartments with four levels, so
you end up with spaces for growing both vertical and sprawling plants all in
one consolidated planter. It’s like having four separate gardening spaces
combined and will allow gardeners to increase all their growth and harvesting
possibilities.

Each unit is made of a medium brown cypress wood with natural decay resistance, so they’ll last for years. Plus, all Leisure Season products come with a limited one-year warranty. Not only are the planters great for creating a sleek, unified look, but they’re easy to assemble and use by both novice and master gardeners alike.

I absolutely
love the idea of adding these multi-level planters to my newly open space with
layered herbs and flowers, while tucking in some greens and veggies amongst them
too. It’s a wonderful way to create eye-catching, easily accessible salads
right outside the kitchen door – or anywhere a garden is desired. The end
result can provide dimension, color and aroma just where it’s needed most. In
my case, transforming the look of my deck into an outdoor space that makes me
feel like I’m tucked inside a garden oasis, my favorite place to be!

Whether
you’re a newbie gardener looking to start out with something simple, or an old
pro in need of a space-saving solution in the garden, a multi-level planter may
be just what you need. And, FYI, Mother’s Day is just around the corner.
Perhaps, that perfect gift for Mom is a Leisure Season
Multi-Level Planter
!

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Pretty in Pink: 7 Stunning Pink Succulents and How To Care For Them

Succulents are the reigning darlings of the plant and design
world — so many colors, other-wordly shapes, irresistible plump leaves… All in
a low water-usage, low maintenance flower form. But if you’re looking for
succulents in stunning pink hues, you have many
to choose from — here are our favorites, along with some general care
instructions.

And hang with us — while some succulents have easy to
pronounce common names (hello, Jelly Beans!) many are simply known by their
more tongue-twisting botanical Latin names.

7 Pink Succulents

  1. Pink
    Jelly Beans:
    Also called Pink Pork and Beans, the botanical Latin for this
    one is Sedum rubrotinctum ‘Aurora’ —
    let’s stick with Pink Jelly Beans. The leaves are small, jelly bean-shaped that
    are pale green and pink-mauve, with bright yellow flowers added just for fun.
    Like most succulents, the pink color is brighter with more sun exposure.
  2. Graptoveria
    ‘Bashful’:
    This one produces longer, thick and plump pale green leaves that
    have rosy pink tips, almost like lipstick.
  3. Graptopetalum
    ‘Bluebean’:
    Clusters of little rosettes feature small, pale blue-green
    leaves with a wash of pinkish-red from the middle of the leaf to the tips. It
    looks dainty but is tougher than dirt.
  4. Graptosedum
    ‘Francesco Baldi’:
    This succulent resembles one that is commonly known as
    “ghost plant” but it has slimmer and plumper leaves. And with leaf colors
    ranging from blue green, blue-grey, and pastel lavender-pink, you have your
    pick of favorite colors all in one luscious plant.
  5. Calico
    Kitten Crassula:
    Complete with an adorable name, Calico Kitten is a charmer
    with tiny heart-shaped leaves in shades of pale green, yellow green, pink, and
    cream, deepening to a dark purple with more sun exposure. With a lovely
    trailing habit, it’s ideal for hanging baskets or spilling over container
    edges.
  6. Anacampseros
    rufescens:
    This low-growing and clumping succulent has leaves with green,
    pink, and purple hues with white threads that grow along the stems and around
    the leaves.
  7. Echeveria
    ‘Perle Von Nurnberg’:
    This rosette-shaped succulent has grayish-blue leaves
    tinged with lavender and pink, along with bright coral pink flower spikes. The
    pink/lavender color intensifies a bit with more sunlight.

Succulent Care

Most succulents are so easy to grow, it’s almost
embarrassing. Follow these general care tips, and then refer to more specific
tips for the succulents you are growing.

  • Light: Give them full sun to part shade — the more intense the sun where you live, the more afternoon shade you should give them.
  • Water: Regular but infrequent watering is key — let them dry out in between waterings to avoid rotting. A couple of waterings per month is usually sufficient.
  • Soil: The soil must be well-drained — no clay soil, no moisture-retaining potting soil. If you’re using your succulents in containers, use soil mixes that are created for cacti and succulents. It’s a thing.
  • Fertilize: Mix two parts All Natural Potting Mix with one part horticulture sand and then add an organic granular fertilizer. Kellogg Garden Products Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer works great with succulents!

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Watering A Lawn The Right (And Dry) Way

Somewhere in the catacombs
of America’s Funniest Home Video
vaults there must be numerous reels of homeowners getting soaked as they move
and adjust the sprinklers on their lawns while unsuccessfully ducking and
running from their backyard Niagara Falls. [Insert laugh track here.] Well, I
guess the joke’s on me because I’ve been waterlogged by my sprinkler many times
doing this very thing and, trust me, it’s not at all funny. My mind lately has
turned to thoughts of the new gardening season that is now upon us. I’ve been
oscillating between investing in a rain slicker or a new sprinkler altogether.
But is there a sprinkler out there that will help me to be successful, yet dry,
in watering my lawn?

Sprinkler Regrets and Laments

I assure you, the footage of
me doing the tango with my sprinkler will never be aired on America’s Funniest
Home Videos because the words coming out of my mouth as I’m drenched with water
are probably not family friendly. I curse myself, as I’m wringing the water out
of my clothes, for not undergoing the inconvenience of running back and forth
ad nauseum between the spigot and the sprinkler to turn the water off/on and
tweak settings. But most of all, I curse the sprinkler for not having an on/off
onboard switch to begin with. Seems like such a simple, yet ingenious, idea.
Why hasn’t anyone come up with it?

No More Public Showers

Well, turns out, somebody actually finally did – Gilmour has once again delivered a smart solution with their Heavy Duty Rectangular Sprinkler. I can now stay dry while getting my space ready for the season. I could stand here with my hands on my hips and admonish them for taking so long to innovate this piece of gardening bliss, but at this point I’m truly just grateful that my days of taking showers at the sprinkler in full view of the neighbors are over. One day a smart aleck neighbor tossed me a bar of soap. You might think this was for washing my mouth out, but the suggestion here was for showers – embarrassing nonetheless. Now, the only soap this gardener needs in her backyard is insecticidal soap!

Taking Back Control

This product is empowering. The water starts and stops when and where I want with the simple turn of a switch. Much easier than going back and forth to the spigot, which hurts my hand to crank. Goodbye, hassles!

The fine tuning of the water movement is also simple, yet very customizable. Simply adjust tabs to control the width of your water band and effortlessly slide levers to adjust the length. Each side of the sprinkler can be set independently from the other giving you even more control. Whether your desired spray area is left, right center or full, Gilmour literally has you covered.

With any gardening tool, a modicum of maintenance and troubleshooting is to be expected. However, if you connect your sprinkler with a durable Flexogen hose, one thing you will NOT have to contend with is twists, kinks or even leaks. This sprinkler is not only heavy duty in function but in its construction. It has a weighted, heavy-duty metal base for stability and durability all season long.

You can get 25% off all products on Gilmour.com now through April 30th 11:59pm CT. Simply enter the promo code “GLMR25” at checkout.

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PlantSwatch™ – Gardening by Color and Zone Has Never Been Easier

Most
people are familiar with those colorful paint swatches available for choosing
that perfect shade of color for your home – be the kitchen, the bedroom, or
outdoor shed. But what if you could just as easily choose the best colors for
the garden in a similar way? You can, and PlantSwatch™ is the answer!

What is PlantSwatch™?

PlantSwatch™
is just like a paint swatch but deigned for choosing garden plants instead of
paint. This nifty little “tool” is basically an easy-to-carry index that’s
arranged by color and hardiness zones. It features over 230 plant varieties,
each with its own growing conditions. From shrubs and trees to grasses and flowering
plants, you’ll find everything you need right at your fingertips. The product
was created to provide the “average” gardener, as well as newbies, with a more
practical solution to selecting plants for the garden. And it’s fun!

How Does PlantSwatch™ work?

I
recently used the PlantSwatch™ in my own garden. After removing some monstrous
shrubs left by previous owners, I was left with a fairly large space in need of
something… and what gardener doesn’t love the chance of starting over with a
clean slate. Sure, it’s easy enough to get the beds started, but then the real task
begins: choosing plants.

While
it is always fun to purchase new plants, this can also be difficult, especially
if you’re new to gardening. Of course, even for those of us that have been
doing it awhile, we can find ourselves struggling with suitable plant choices.
I mean, there’s just so many and while they may very well grow fine in a
particular area, not all colors work that great together. And this is one place
where the PlantSwatch™ helps.

You
can literally see how certain colors look next to each other. Choosing the
wrong color palette can make or break the space. You want the colors to
complement each other, not fight one another. This product is designed to make plant
selection easier, putting the fun back into your garden planning. Just follow
the color and number coded bars on each page, and look for plants within that
range. Already have existing plants but looking to add more? Put the swatch
next to your current plantings and see how the colors work together.

But
it doesn’t just stop there. Color is important but so is choosing the right
plant for the spot you want, and in the correct growing zone. You might love
that zone 10 shade flower, but if you’re in zone 5 or in a sunny location, it
won’t make any difference. It won’t thrive in the wrong zone or growing area.
It’s just that simple. PlantSwatch™, however, makes this easy too. Along with
each colorful photo, you’ll find the plant’s hardiness zone and general information
on:

  • what conditions it
    grows best in – sun, shade, part shade, etc.
  • which soil it
    prefers – well-drained, warm, poor, nutrient-rich, cool, etc.
  • its moisture
    requirements – moist, dry
  • its height and
    width
  • when it blooms and
    what color – spring, summer, year-long foliage, etc.
  • the type of plant it
    is – annual, herbaceous perennial, shrub, etc.

It’s
made figuring out what I want to plant in my new bed, an area with morning
shade and afternoon sun, much easier – and quicker. It could take tons of time
browsing plant nurseries looking for suitable choices, but with the PlantSwatch™
I can simply plan ahead. Now when I go to the nursery to purchase the plants on
my list, I know I won’t be wasting money on plants that won’t thrive. And, best
of all, it’s small enough to carry with me so if I come across something new
that captures my attention, I can double check that it will work with my other
plant choices. Plus, it doesn’t cost much – only $14 plus tax and shipping.
I’ll spend far more than that on new plants.

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Anyone Can Have a Raised Bed Garden with a Big Bag Bed Jr.

Wishing
you could grow your garden in raised beds, but don’t have the space or enough
time? Whether you’re a newbie gardener, an old pro or a master gardener, there’s
a perfect solution for a beautiful, varied and thoughtful garden that’s so
simple it’s hard to believe – a Big Bag Bed Jr.

Unlike
standard container gardening, large fabric, aerated raised beds are the answer
for gardeners who want lush, productive gardens but don’t want the daunting
project of building raised beds. Perfect for small or large spaces, non-BPA fabric
beds will change your opinion of container gardening.

Meeting the special needs of your plants

In
addition to your loving care, every plant in your garden has specific needs.
When planning it out, you have to make a lot of decisions, right? Plants need:

  • Good drainage and enough
    soil depth to form strong, healthy roots.
  • Distance from
    plants that aren’t complementary – and room to grow next to amenable companions.
    Think tomatoes and basil!
  • A location that
    will provide just enough light or shade for each plant to thrive.
  • A soil mixture
    that will support and encourage each kind of plant.  

With
portable fabric beds, you can easily meet each of these demands without the
expense and hard work of building raised beds. But, to be fair, let’s talk
about what wood-constructed raised beds require.

The challenges of raised beds

Building
raised beds is labor-intensive and expensive. Using pre-treated lumber can
leach harmful chemicals into your soil and plant roots. But another
consideration is that they’re fairly limited in terms of placement and
functionality.

  • First, they need committed
    space, since you won’t want to move them anytime soon.
  • They need enough
    soil depth for your plants’ roots to comfortably grow strong.
  • They need proper
    drainage.
  • They require a
    perfect location to meet the sunlight needs of each specific crop.
  • They need heavy
    lumber, a ton of soil and construction skills.
  • And, sometimes you
    just want to have your plantings a little closer in – like an herb bed near
    your kitchen door, a rush of fragrant flowers on the deck or balcony, or a
    lemon tree on the patio…

Using fabric raised beds for the garden
you really want

Fabric
growing planters are stable, lightweight and versatile. They’ve set a new
standard in gardening because, when you can place your plants in precise locations,
it’s easier to give them the care they need. The depth of these large bags
allows deep-growing roots to mature and thrive. Since you can choose a perfect
soil mixture for each type of planting, aerated fabric planters can accommodate
a prolific garden yield.

Our current favorite for large container gardening is Big Bag Bed Jr. from Smart Pots. They last for years and come in three sizes, up to 13 square feet of garden space. Fabric containers are easy to manage, situate, fill, empty and store. And here’s a surprise – the Big Bag Bed even comes in purple!

What to do with the bags after harvest?

After
your successful growing season, empty the bags, fold them up flat and store
them away for next spring. It’s that simple. You can amend your ground soil
with the used potted soil or, if you’re a year-round gardener, go ahead and
plant some winter vegetables. They’re weatherproof!

Dreaming
about raised bed gardening? Now you can turn those dreams into reality. Anyone
can have a raised bed garden with a Big Bag Bed Jr.

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Spot Spreader: The Multi-Season Hand Tool That Spreads Everything You Need

Smart
gardeners: lighten up. Stop dragging around those heavy bags!

Sometimes
even the most phenomenal gardeners could use a little help. Spreading garden
seed or fertilizer evenly, just in the spots where it’s needed, can be quicker
and easier than you think. Your shed is probably loaded with fertilizers, soils
and seeds that require your precious manual labor. Hauling bags around the yard
can be, literally, a real pain.

Finding simple ways to optimize your work outside makes gardening the best part of your week. And the folks at Spot Spreader have just what you need. Keep those heavy bags on your shed shelves where they belong, and try filling a lightweight, efficient hand-spreader tool with as much or as little as you want instead.

Precision Spreading

Growing
a variety of vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants calls for different
types of fertilizers, soil mixtures and conditioners, and combinations of
products that are sold in large heavy bags. Naturally, your rose bushes will be
needing a fertilizer different from what you’re using to feed your new baby
trees or emerging crop of sugar peas.

And
what about that one little patch of lawn that needs to be reseeded, but sits
right next to your flower bed? Most of us have had the experience of
broadcasting new grass seed a little too far, a little too much. Grass in the
flower or vegetable bed quickly translates to weeds that need to be pulled…more
manual labor.

In
the winter, spreading salt on walkways can be tricky. Salt’s not always
friendly to surrounding plants either. It can be a challenge to keep it
sprinkled exactly where it needs to go.

Crank-type spreaders almost always cast whatever you’re spreading into the wrong places. Our new favorite tool for specific garden sections is a spot spreader that’s lightweight and precise, with a strong handle for easy control. It’s easy to fill and durable as heck. Of course, all fertilizers, seeds and salts are not going to be the same sized grains, but this efficient little spot spreader easily adjusts to accommodate anything you want to apply, right where you want it.

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A Simple Design

Who
needs another complex tool that requires parts or adjustments and maintenance?
I love a simple, efficient tool that I can hang on a nail in my shed, quickly
fill with what I need, screw on the cap and do the task at hand. Simple as it
is, the largest spot spreader can hold up to 80 ounces of material, or just a
few tablespoons. If there’s excess left in the cup, unscrew the top, pour it
back into the bag and hang it up. Easy and efficient!

Will it Last?

If
you happen to roll your tractor wheel over the Spot Spreader tool, or it meets
some other ghastly fate, this company will replace it with no questions asked.
A lifetime guarantee these days is pretty unique, so you know this product has
to be super durable.

For de-icing, seeding or fertilizing, make sure you have the right tool for the right small job. Gardening is your happy place, so stop dragging or rolling heavy bags of fertilizer, seed and salt around. Fill your Spot Spreader, go out, and increase the peace.

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Growing Native Ferns in the Garden

Ferns may not produce
flowers, but they are among the most spectacular plants you can put in the
garden. Particularly popular for shady spots, these ancient green plants add
unique, feather-like foliage. Ferns are more than just ornamentation, though.
They are also great for preventing erosion and can be planted on hillsides and
other vulnerable areas to keep soil in place. Not all ferns are the same – choose
from a variety of sizes, textures, and shades of green to bring diversity to a
shady bed.

Some
ideas for pretty native ferns for the garden include:

Ostrich Fern

Ostrich Fern – The Ostrich fern, Maatteuccia struthiopteris, enjoys moist and even wet ground. Try this variety if you have a pond or stream in the garden or a marshy area that struggles to support other plants. The name for this fern aptly describes its tall, elegant, and feathery fronds, reminiscent of large ostrich feathers. It can also cover a large area quickly and provide height and a backdrop for shorter plants. Ostrich fern grows up to between 3 and 6 feet (1 to 1.8 meters) in height and will spread out just as wide. In addition to moisture, these ferns need a nice shady spot.

Christmas Fern

Christmas Fern – Polystichum acrostichoides is a lovely fern that produces lance-shaped fronds. They are long and narrow, growing up to 3 feet (1 m.) in length but just 4 inches (10 cm.) wide. Growing in dense clumps, Christmas ferns make great hanging basket plants but are also pretty in beds and in woodland or streamside gardens. You can also expect to enjoy some of the greenery from these ferns year round. The name Christmas fern comes from this fact.

Sword Fern

Sword FernSword fern is Polystichum munitum, an evergreen fern. The fronds are shaped like lances or swords and grow to a height of 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m.). While the Sword fern does enjoy moist soil like other varieties, it is unique in that it can tolerate and survive dry conditions. It is also hardy in cold weather and will provide year-round greenery in many environments.

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Growing Tips for Ferns

Ferns are a wonderful
addition to the garden, as long as you have some shade for them. Most will not
tolerate full sun, but that makes these pretty plants perfect for tough shady
areas where you struggle to grow flowers. Make sure the soil is rich in organic
matter before planting ferns, and that you will be able to keep it moist. Water
regularly when ferns are establishing roots.

Use mulch to both retain
moisture in the soil for these thirsty plants and to control weeds. It also
helps to hand pull weeds as needed so they don’t outcompete the ferns for
nutrients. Once they are established, your ferns won’t need much care. You can
divide them in the fall or spring, but ferns will naturally spread and fill in
spaces from year to year.

Ferns are delightful in the garden, providing green in shady areas and adding height and texture. There are many types of ferns to choose from, so enjoy select a range of plants to add variety and interest to your garden.

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Best Early Spring Flowering Plants to Attract Pollinators

Spring is nature’s way of saying,
“Let’s party!”
  ~Robin Williams

We
all know what spring brings. It’s not surprising that the most spectacular plants
always arouse the most attention from our precious pollinators. We humans
propagate ourselves, but most plants let the pollinators do their mating for
them!

Waiting
for an invitation…

Birds,
bees, butterflies, bugs, wind, water – all sorts of natural travelers relocate and
exchange pollen among plants and flowers, keeping our planet colorful and
thriving. Hundreds of pollinators are eager to visit your garden and are simply
waiting for an invitation. Along with wind and water, airborne creatures are
among the movers and shakers that travel nature’s vectors, fertilizing plant
after plant after plant.

Welcome the Pollinators!

Winter Dreams™ Double Fantasy Christmas Rose

Some of the most stunning and alluring plants attract the best pollinators. You don’t need to wait until warm weather, either. Bees will dip and hover about a Double Fantasy Christmas Rose in early spring. They also love the takeout at the elegant Ivory Prince Christmas Rose, which by the way, doesn’t even mind a little shade. You have to see them to believe how pretty these blooms are.

Time to Wake Up

Tangerine™ Spreading Lantana

Late
winter flowers are almost a surreal experience. Besides being simply beautiful,
the blossoms of a fragrant Moonlight
Parfait® Winter Daphne
deliver a power-treat for hungry, winter-weary
pollinators just as your garden begins to wake up. Monrovia’s Tangerine™
Spreading Lantana
,
on the other hand, can bloom all year long in the right environment – and the color
is a magnet for butterflies.

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Consider delivering years of dependable nectar to tiny creatures with the elegant Claremont Western Redbud, another gorgeous early bloomer. Make sure to have some smaller trees put in, too, like the intense Cornelian Cherry Dogwood or white-chocolate-aromatic Box-Leaf Azara. Great for décor around the edges of your garden, they’ll thrive even in semi-shady areas, lending a magical environment for pollinators and the humans who enjoy watching them.  

Carolina Jessamine

Is
your garden area in full sunshine? Bright yellow Carolina Jessamine will grace your
fence or trellis without intruding on other plants.

High-vibe
hummers enjoy dining at white, double Royal Star
Magnolia

blossoms in early spring. This isn’t the old-time magnolia your
great-grandmother grew, but a delicate sweet variety that those speedy little creatures
love. Speaking of vibrational experiences, check out the intense color of
Monrovia’s Victoria
California Lilac
,
greatly honored in the bee community for its amazing sweet nectar and rich
pollen.

Charity
Mahonia

and Bountiful
Blue® Blueberry

are also some favorite nectar sources for pollinators, and we probably don’t even
need to mention the other attributes of blueberry bushes, right? Take a stroll
through your garden paths and munch on some of that juicy blue fruit.

Spreading the Benefits

With
perfect rhythm and timing, our diligent pollinators see a well-planted garden
as their perfect playground. While your garden’s probably a place where you
chill and unwind, it also supports a healthy earth. We honor you for offering
your flying guests the best, highest
quality plants

this spring. And, don’t forget to use a Monrovia gift card to pass along the
beauty to others who care enough to provide the hardiest and most impressive
treats for our noble pollinators.

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Horticulture – what are the three main areas?

Horticulture involves the use of plants for beauty, comfort and
food. It comes from the Latin for garden culture. It’s possible to train in
horticulture and be an expert in how plants are used, grown and harvested. It’s
an interesting aspect of modern culture, when you consider how much we rely on
plants for pleasure and survival.

You can find out more about training in horticulture here. The aim of this article is to give you a brief introduction to the three main areas of horticulture.

Ornamental horticulture

As you might expect, ornamental horticulture is concerned with
plants that are grown for their beauty. This can involve the growing of plants
both indoors and outdoors. The color green is obviously a regular feature of
this type of horticulture which is why it’s often referred to as the green
industry.

Olericulture

Olericulture is concerned with vegetable crops such as sweet corn
and potatoes. It’s not just concerned with the growing of these vegetables.
Every aspect of the growing and selling process is covered by the topic. This
includes the planting of vegetables, harvesting, storage and selling. There are
nine major categories for these vegetable crops:

  • Pot herbs and greens, which includes vegetables such as spinach
  • Salad crops, which include lettuce and other vegetables that you would expect to find on a salad
  • Cole crops, which includes cabbage and cauliflower
  • Root crops, which includes potatoes and other tubers
  • Bulb crops, including onions and leeks
  • Legumes, which includes products such as beans
  • Cucurbits, which includes cucumbers and their relatives
  • Solanaceous crops such as peppers and tomatoes
  • Sweet corn

Pomology

Pomology covers the same
processes as covered by olericulture, except relating to fruit and nuts. The
pomology industry is hugely important, as these types of food are vital to the
health of the population. At a time when there is greater emphasis on eating
less meat and more plants, nuts and fruits supply many of the nutrients that
are essential for healthy living.

Studying horticulture

If you want to know more about horticulture, it’s a fascinating
field of study. It’s a fairly intensive subject that often focuses on how we
can grow plants in the most environmentally friendly manner possible.

Anyone wanting to study horticulture will normally have a scientific background, as the coursework involved usually includes aspects of biology, chemistry and soil science. For anyone who wants to take their knowledge and run a horticulture business, it’s also necessary to study aspects of communications and business. Horticulture courses normally consist of a combination of laboratory work and hands-on experience.

All aspects of horticulture are important to the human race and
the planet. Growing plants improves the appearance of the environment around
us, helps to prevent soil erosion and provides us with a healthy food source.
It’s likely that we will move further towards a more plant-based diet in the
future and that horticulture will become even more important.

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The Top 5 Elements of a Great Outdoor Living Space

What are the elements of a great outdoor living space? And, just for clarity, we are talking about a great outdoor living space, not a great outdoor laboring space. As gardeners, we spend a great deal of time toiling in our gardens, but how much time do we actually spend kicking back and relaxing in the spaces we create? Chances are, not much. It’s just as important to spend as much time cultivating ourselves as we do our beloved plants. Let’s explore some ways to linger in our backyards a bit longer without the gardening gloves on. And while here, be sure to fill out and submit the entry form at the bottom for a chance to win a Belgard Fire Pit Kit.

Brighton™ Series Fireplace

Fireplaces

Once the sun sets, we retreat indoors as our gardens are cast in darkness and the chill of the night sets in. Let’s make like a caveman and rediscover this thing we call “fire.” The imposing structure of a fireplace creates a spectacular focal point and will not only cast warmth but also an inviting glow on your surroundings, bringing your garden to life after the sun has gone down. The style and materials for outdoor fireplaces are wide and varied, including brick, natural stone, stucco and manmade stone veneers. You may have actually considered a custom outdoor fireplace before but were dissuaded by the time frame required to build one from scratch. Belgard features a collection of factory-built natural stone outdoor fireplaces in an array of styles and sizes, including Bordeaux, Brighton and Bristol. These outdoor fireplaces arrive in modular sections that can be installed in just a few hours.

Weston Stone™ Fire Pit Kit

Fire Pits

 Don’t have room in your outdoor space for a large stone masonry fireplace? No worries. You can still add similar ambiance to your garden with something a bit more modest, such as a fire pit. Light it up and your family and friends will gravitate towards it for an evening of good conversation and roasted marshmallows. A fire pit shouldn’t cause a pit in your stomach with worries about how to build one. Belgard offers a do-it-yourself Weston Stone™ Fire Pit Kit which arrives ready-to-assemble with all the pieces and instructions needed. For a chance to win a Belgard Fire Pit Kit, complete the entry form at the bottom of this blog post.

Lighting

Lighting is not only functional but helps to beautify a garden space. There are many lighting solutions to choose from these days, including string lights, lanterns, solar lights, accent & well lights, path lights, hardscape lights, and pillar lights, just to name a few.  

Weston Stone® Grill Island Kit

Grill Island

Nothing brings people together better than a great meal! And great meals begin in great grilling spaces. A grill island is essentially an outdoor kitchen with a stucco or stone base. It can be offered in a small footprint featuring just the grill or in much larger footprints with counter-top space, breakfast-bar seating, and miscellaneous built-ins such as mini refrigerators or storage cabinets or drawers. When it comes to making your outdoor kitchen dreams a reality, Belgard can literally help you pave the way by customizing a grill island for your outdoor living space.

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Pavers

The best driveways, walkways and patios have one thing in common. They are made with pavers.Pavers are not only beautiful and stylish, but they are durable, weather resistant, require very little maintenance and are offered in a range of patterns, colors and textures. Whether you are looking for modern contemporary, traditional cobble and brick pavers or natural stone patio pavers, Belgard has them all and will guarantee them for the life of your home.

WIN A BELGARD FIRE PIT KIT


Complete the entry form below for a chance to win. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Giveaway begins Wednesday, March 27 at 12:01 a.m. EST and ends Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

THE WINNER WILL BE DRAWN AT RANDOM FROM ALL QUALIFIED ENTRANTS AND WILL BE NOTIFIED VIA E-MAIL.





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Make Your Home Beautiful with a Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden

I have been thinking about an indoor grow light system for quite some time but never fully committed to the idea because the systems I encountered fell short when it came to aesthetics. It was challenging to find a system that would mesh well with the interior design of my home. Many of the offerings were in unattractive tent-like enclosures designed to be concealed in a closet. This is fine for those looking to grow marijuana but, for gardeners looking to grow other types of plants, it’s just not very ideal or accessible. Other systems were comprised of bulky grow light fixtures suspended over plants, with the lights requiring periodic height adjustments, which also isn’t very convenient. I had just about given up on my search for an indoor grow light system when I was presented with the opportunity to try out a Low Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden from Gardener’s Supply. This grow light system was just what I was looking for, as it met all the following criteria on my checklist:

Low Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden*

Easy to assemble. 

The Low Bamboo LED Grow Light Garden was very easy to put together. It took me approximately one hour to assemble alone. The instructions were easy to understand and the process was without any major frustrations or complications.

Tip: The directions call for a Phillips screwdriver – it should clarify that the head of the screwdriver should be on the small side, as this makes the installation much easier. 

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A grow light system that looks like fine furniture. 

The frame of the Bamboo LED Grow Light Gardens is crafted with bamboo. Bamboo
is actually an indoor décor trend that has seen a resurgence, and for good
reason – it’s a natural highly renewable material that has a high-end look,
exuding elegance and warmth.

The visual appeal of this grow light garden is further accentuated by grow
lamps that are recessed into the top part of the box frame, out of view and
eliminating distracting glare. This system is also designed as an open
structure, which is great for a few reasons. One – it allows your plants to be
seen and enjoyed! Two – it gives you the requisite access and space needed to
tend to your plants. This grow unit is definitely classy enough to be situated
in any room of your home because it looks like furniture, not a contraption,
and puts the focus on the plants, as it should be. 

Accommodates plants of all sizes. 

The Grow Light Garden I tried out was one tier and geared towards growing low growing plants such as cacti and succulents as well as starting and propagating plants. There are also medium and tall sized tiers available to grow plants of varying sizes up to 2.5 feet tall and 4 feet tall, respectively, so you will have lots of growing options.

Stackable.  

The Grow Light Garden system is a modular system. With my low growing
tier, I could stack on two more low growing tiers or add on one medium tier. I
could position a tall tier next to one of these stacked configurations and it
would look like one cohesive and seamless unit because everything would be the
same height.

Grow your best seedlings.  

The one tier low growing unit could easily accommodate four Gardener’s Supply Company 24-cell seed starter kits, which gives you enough growing space to start close to one hundred plants! Equipped with a bag of Gardener’s Seed Starting Mix, I planted seeds into the starter kit cells from the Plant It & Forget It Garden seed mix. I felt that my seedlings were definitely fuller, thicker and stronger, which I attribute to the grow garden’s two strong 3960 grow lamps. The best thing is, you never have to adjust the height of the lamps because they are strong enough to fulfill your plants’ light needs from a single distance!

Final Note: My only
recommendation is that the basic assembly should come with an additional galvanized tray. This tray could be used as
a top shelf on the unit or as a tray that could be used for potting up seed
trays or transplanting. 

*Photos courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company

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Plant Package – Unearthing a Garden Surprise Every Month

New
to gardening? Not a problem. With a Plant Package subscription box, you can grow
like a pro because everything you need is included. Just follow four easy steps
and you’re on your way: unbox, hydrate, transplant and display. That’s it! It
couldn’t be any easier. You don’t have to be a newbie to enjoy what’s inside
either. Anyone with a love of plants, new or old, experienced or not, can
benefit. But that’s not even the best part – these plants and accessories are delivered
right to your front door!

What is a Plant Package Box?

It’s
just what it sounds like – plants in a box. But not just any plants and not
just any box. These subscription boxes come with everything you need and are
themed each month. Inside you’ll find a seasonal selection of four fully-grown plants,
ranging from flowers and leafy greens to herbs and fruits. Of course, you can’t
grow plants without soil (unless hydroponically), so this is in the box too.
Won’t that be messy, you ask? Nope! Your Plant Package box includes what I like
to call “magical” soil, otherwise known as eco-friendly coconut coir that’s been
compressed for easy, clean shipping. All you do is add water and it expands
like magic into a great water retentive growing medium. And since plants need
nutrition, that’s also included. While this varies depending on the package,
each box comes with a base fertilizer. And if specific plants call for it, additional
supplemental fertilizers are also provided.

Although
each plant comes in its own OMRI-certified biodegradable 4-inch (10 cm.) pot,
your box will also contain a nifty plastic or metal decorative container suited
for the monthly theme. This may just be one large container or it may be three
to four smaller ones dependent on the theme. You can transplant the
biodegradable pots directly into the decorative pot(s) or remove them first –
your choice. As if this wasn’t enough, you can CHOOSE (during the checkout
process) to have a surprise accessory included. Who doesn’t love surprises?
This may feature anything from gloves, decorative plant tags and shears to a
trowel, watering can or even your own mortar and pestle for herbs. It’s like
Christmas in a box every month! Each subscription box comes with easy-to-follow
instructions for planting and tips on caring for the plants too.

I
tried the Plant Package box out for myself and I was just as excited to receive
my box as I was upon “unboxing” it. Since my box came in the month of March,
its theme was geared toward the luck of the Irish – the pot of gold at the end
of the rainbow! And just as advertised, everything I needed was included along
with the ever-so-simple directions for potting the lovely looking creeping
Green Glow clover and Lemon Coral sedum. I also received a new pair of
gardening gloves (green, of course!). I think I may have found a new outlet for
my gardening addiction.

Lucky Pot of Gold

How Do You Get One of These Plant Package
Boxes?

All you have to do is sign up for a subscription. You have the option of receiving a Plant Package monthly, every other month, or quarterly (delivered every three months). Each box starts at $42 per package monthly. Subscription plans can be made on a monthly basis where you pay each month or you can choose a 6-month (paying every 6 months) or 12-month (paying annually) subscription instead. You can even “gift” a box to someone else that shares the love of plants and gardening as much as you do.

Not everyone has the time or experience to garden, but that’s okay. Not everyone has to. Whether you’re new to gardening, a seasoned gardener with little space, or just a plant lover in general, the folks at PlantPackage.com make it easier for you to enjoy this addictive pastime without all the time and energy needed in maintaining a huge backyard garden. It’s a NEW subscription box for gardeners of all ages and experience levels – and easy enough to share with the kids too!

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Tips for Successful Cold Weather Gardening in A Greenhouse

Fresh grown lettuce, peas, broccoli and carrots when you’re bundled up and there’s white stuff on the ground? Why, yes! I never thought it was possible until I had the opportunity to give gardening a go in my Palram Snap & Grow 6×8 Silver Greenhouse these past few years during winter and early spring. I learned a lot during my cold weather gardening ventures and have a few tips I’d like to share with you. 

In order to be successful in greenhouse gardening during the
months that make you say “brrrrrr,” you need to first ask yourself some very
important questions.

A lot of greenhouse gardening concerns revolve around temperature. This is true whether you are gardening in the middle of summer or in the throes of winter. For winter and early spring gardening, however, the first thing you need to decide is whether or not you will be heating your greenhouse. I opted to keep my Palram greenhouse unheated. There are electric heat options as well as propane and paraffin heat solutions available that you can consider. As you surely know, heat has a price tag attached, so this may pack a wallop on your wallet, especially if you live in an area with a long winter season. You will need to consider if the output of your garden greenhouse will be worth the expense of heating it, so you may want to open an Excel spreadsheet and crunch some numbers. For many, however, the heat required to grow warm season crops such as fresh tomatoes, peppers and beans is simply priceless.

The decision on greenhouse heating will naturally impact the choice of plants you can grow. If you opt for your greenhouse to remain unheated during the colder months, your window of choices is reduced to cool season crops only. This brings up the question “What is the difference between cool season crops and warm season crops?” Cool season crops do best when temperatures stay below 70°F. (21 C.) during the day and above 40°F. (4 C.) at night.  Warm season crops, in contrast, grow best above 70°F, with care not to let temperatures dip below 50°F. (10 C.).  

Many mature cool season plant varieties, however, can
withstand temperatures that are much colder (even freezing temps) and can tolerate
light to moderate frosts; however, seed germination for cold season crops
happens only in soil temperature ranging from 40 to 45°F. (4-7 C.). The catalog
of cool season crop choices is quite large and includes hardy root vegetables,
such as carrots, and leafy greens like spinach and collards, just to name a
few. If you plan to grow cool season crops in an unheated greenhouse, you will
need to do your research, especially when you are window shopping in your seed
catalogues. Pay close attention to the fine print, and especially note the cold
tolerance of each variety. Choose varieties that have a higher threshold for
the cold, and even shorter windows of time for maturity, to give yourself a
better chance of success in your cold weather gardening venture. 

Whether you grow cool or warm season crops, you will need to
monitor temperature, and even humidity very closely on a daily basis. Installing
a thermometer and hygrometer inside your greenhouse to measure temperature and
humidity is highly recommended. In fact, you may want to invest in thermometers
and hygrometers models that are Wi-Fi capable, which allow you to take your
readings anywhere via your smart phone. Monitoring these readings will give you
clues on how and when to tweak the greenhouse environment, whether it’s
facilitating more air flow or cooling/heating things down.

Winter gardening is challenging in a greenhouse. Be prepared
for some ups and downs. You may not knock it out of the park the first time,
but with some trial and error, you’ll learn the ropes relatively quickly. One
last tip – keep a garden journal to record your experiences; you’ll find these
insights you record to be invaluable as you grow as a greenhouse gardener.

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Creating the Perfect Low Maintenance Garden

While beautiful, immaculate gardens are
understandably highly coveted in the world of gardening, sometimes, spending
endless hours creating a pristine garden just isn’t practical. Whether you are
tight for gardening time or struggle with the physical aspect of gardening,
high maintenance outdoor spaces just aren’t practical for everyone.

So, with that in mind, here are some top
tips and ideas to help you create and manage a low maintenance garden – without
compromising on the quality and aesthetics of your garden.

Design

Immaculate landscaping and intricate
flowerbeds might look good, but the reality is that they will require a lot of
dedication and commitment to maintain. Unless you have the time available to
focus on gardening on a grand scale, it’s probably best to scale down your
ideas and, instead, create a simple yet high-impact garden environment.

If you are thinking
about undergoing a garden redesign, it’s recommended to plan out your initial
ideas, along with rough costings, to ensure that you can stay on budget while
incorporating everything you want into your overall garden design.

Lawn

How many hours have you spent mowing your
lawn, only for it to need mowing again just a few days later! Similarly, brown,
patchy, muddy or waterlogged lawns can detract from the overall aesthetic of
your garden and depending on your garden’s soil type and quality of the turf,
the reality is that sometimes, lawns just aren’t worth the hassle.

In this scenario, you could consider investing in decking or a patio to negate the need for a lawn, or if you would still prefer a greener garden, why not try an artificial lawn instead? The synthetic grasses of today have come a long way from their beginnings, resulting in highly realistic, cost-effective artificial grass that is perfect for a lush, low maintenance garden lawn.

Plants

Plants, flowers and shrubs can bring plenty
of color and vibrancy to a garden, but if you are aiming for a low maintenance
outdoor space, it’s important to pick your plants with care. Some plants are
easy-going and will require very little to no maintenance, whereas others need
a lot of attention in order to look their best.

As a general rule, evergreen shrubbery is a
safe bet because many varieties will be happiest when left to flourish on their
own. If you want a splash of color without taking too much time out, you could
consider adding a few flower pots or planters to create focal points in your
garden – a few containers will be much easier to maintain than a garden full of
flowerbeds. Fill them with your choice of bright blooms and give your outdoor
space an instant refresh!

Decoration

Whether it’s a bench, garden gnome, or
space for your summer BBQ, it isn’t just the natural side of things that help a
garden make a statement. Whether you choose something practical like seating or
a more decorative addition, you can rest assure that whatever you choose will
help your garden look its best, without causing you undue stress.

However, when choosing ornamental or
decorative features, it’s important to carefully consider a number of factors
before making an addition to your garden. Make sure that anything you add
complements the existing design scheme of your garden, is suitable for an
all-weather outdoor lifestyle and doesn’t require too much maintenance, like
painting or varnishing, for example.

Your garden should be a relaxing place
where you can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life for a while. No matter
the size or design of your garden, remember that sometimes, less is more and
there’s absolutely no reason why your low maintenance garden can’t still wow
everyone lucky enough to see it!

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5 Interesting Ways to Improve the Soil in your Lawn or Garden

The secret to thriving plants and lawns is healthy soil.
To be more specific, healthy soil can enhance the quality of crops and can
create a natural nutrient cycle in the environment. It can also reduce pest and
infestation. Healthy soil has also increased water holding capacity, which
means you get to save more water and reduce the chances of erosion. With
healthy soil, you also get to maximize the efficiency of chemical fertilizers,
which reduces production costs.

These are just some of the benefits of having healthy soil. That is why it is important to improve the quality of soil help keep care of our lawn or garden. 

How to determine if soil is healthy or
needs improvement

  1. First, you need to know that there are different types of soil. Thus, there are different soil strategies that you need to do for specific soil.
  2. Second, soil health depends on certain properties like water infiltration and holding capacity, depth, density, texture, among others.

How to identify soil type

There are three basic soil types. These are clay, loamy,
and sandy. Clay and sandy soils are difficult for irrigation, whilst loamy soil
is the most ideal among the three.

Loamy soil is considered the best when it comes to
gardening and agricultural since it is able to retain nutrients. It is also
easy to work in any kind of moisture conditions.

A simple method that you can try to find out if your soil
is clay, loamy, or sandy is by picking up some marble-sized moist soil. Roll it
between your fingers. Try to create a ball shape from it.

If you are successful in creating a marble-sized ball from
the soil, then you have a clay soil.

If the soil keeps falling apart as you try to roll it on
your fingers, then you have sandy soil.

Lastly, if the soil was formed into a ball, but ended up
falling apart once you apply pressure, then it is loamy soil.

Once you know the kind of soil you have, it is easy to
apply soil techniques to improve it. So here are some ways on how to improve
the soil in your garden based on the soil type.

1. Adding organic matter into the soil

If you have sandy soil that easily falls apart after being
squeezed, what you need to focus on is to improve the structure of the soil.
One of the best methods to do this is by adding some organic matter into the
soil. This will enhance its nutritional value.

However, if you have clay soil, which is easy to mold and
can turn really hard during dry summer, using organic matter to improve it will
take a lot of work. You need patience when it comes to adding organic matter
into clay soil. But once you are successful with this method, you will be able
to improve the structure of your clay soil. An improved clay soil structure can
provide better drainage. It will also have a lot of nutrients that your plants
will love.

Poor loamy soil can also be improved using this method.
However, the fertility of your loamy soil will depend on the quantity of
organic matter that you will use.

2.
Adding nutrients your plants need

There are three key nutrients that plants need and that
you should incorporate into your soil if it’s lacking. These three are
nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is necessary for leaf and stem
growth. Phosphorus is for the roots, fruit, and seed. Potassium is for disease
resistance and overall health of your plants.

If you have young plants, it is best to include phosphorus
in your soil since it will focus on the growth of leaves. On the other hand,
for mature plants, less phosphorus is needed and more on the other nutrients.

3. Composting

Composting is recycling organic waste. Using composting on
soil can reduce the bulk of organic material in the soil. It also stabilizes
volatile and soluble nutrients. Composting also helps speed up the formation of
soil humus.

Regular application of compost is usually one-quarter inch
per season. This can result in slow release of nutrients on soil, but it can
improve your soil’s water retention which is best for clay and sandy soils. It
also helps suppress diseases.

There are two kinds of composting, sheet composting and
vermicomposting. Sheet composting is building piles in bins with alternate
layers of fresh high nitrogen greens, like grass, and browns, like dry leaves.

The second one is vermicomposting. It is composting that
uses earthworms to convert manures, food wastes, green crop residues, etc.,
into nutrient-dense materials.

4. Cover crops

Cover crops is one of the easiest ways to improve the soil
and does not require much work. With it, you can improve soil drainage,
aeration, and smooth out weeds.

For this method, all you have to do is cover your garden
or lawn area with the seeds you want to use as your cover crop. After that,
just wait and let the seeds do some magic on your soil. Once done, you can use
a scythe to cut off the greens that appeared in the soil.

5. Using hay or straw

If you are looking for a way to improve loamy soil,
mulching hay or straw is a good method. You can purchase fresh hay and straw
from the market. But using old bales is a better choice. It is also cheaper.

In using hay or straw, just mulch it in your garden. This
will not only help with watering and taking out weeds, but also can add
nutrients to your loamy soil.

These are just some interesting strategies and methods you
can use if you are looking for ways on how to improve the quality and health of
your soil. Remember, healthy soil produces healthy plants. So, the key to a
good lawn and garden is keeping the soil in tip-top shape. Before gardening or
tending to the looks of your lawn, focus first on the soil and then you can
start adding plants, crops, or other elements your choice.

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Spring’s Early Blooming Perennials

There’s
a good reason why early blooming perennials will never go out of style. The
long-lived, low-maintenance plants lay dormant throughout the long winter, waking
up the garden with a dependable burst of color every spring. For gardeners,
part of the fun of growing perennials is experimenting with new plants in a
color, shape or form you never imagined.

Some
favorites for this spring may include the following:

Daffodils

Daffodils (Buttercups) – The term “daffodil” refers to any plant in
the Narcissus family, including snowdrops and jonquils. Daffodils
are extremely cold-hardy, showing up as early February with blooms that last at
least six weeks and sometimes much more. Pair daffodils with other early spring
perennials in contrasting colors, such as Virginia bluebells or bright purple
iris.

Blue Violets

Blue Violets
– Blue violets are demure,
happy-faced plants that top out at about 4 inches (10 cm.). The delicate,
vibrant blue blooms pop in stark contrast to the rounded, emerald green leaves.
While blue violets make a lovely little groundcover under tulips, they’re also suitable
for rock gardens, borders, or even containers or window boxes. This North
American native is beautiful when planted along with intense blue lobelia,
bright yellow daffodils, or the softer shades of blue phlox.

Bird’s Foot Violets

Bird’s Foot Violets – Bird’s foot violets, at 12 to 18 inches (30-46 cm.), are a bit taller than blue violets, but the delicate blue and purple blooms are just as pretty. This native woodland plant tolerates shade, but it blooms more profusely with a little sunlight. Consider planting bird’s foot violets with vibrant purple violets, or with blood root plant, which despite the name, shows off pure white, yellow centered blooms.

Irises – When it comes to irises
in the garden, there’s a type to suit nearly any setting. Bearded , for
example, is available in several show-stopping colors, including red, blue,
white, yellow and lavender, all of which pop out against the deep green
foliage. This elegant, upright plant prefers full sun, but light afternoon
shade is helpful in hot climates. Pairings for bearded iris include bright
yellow daffodils or low-growing Indian pink plants, which aren’t really pink,
but consist of bright red flowers with contrasting yellow lobes. Dwarf crested
iris displays 6-inch (15 cm.) stems of pale yellow to dark green, and fragrant
blooms of lavender or pastel blue. This hardy North American native tolerates
cold weather and semi-shady areas, and often puts on a show every spring for up
to ten years. Plant dwarf crested iris alongside clumps of vibrant daylilies,
which are available in shades of orange, red, yellow, purple and white.

There
are endless spring flowering
perennials
you can choose, and planting them in the garden is a
great way to enjoy these plants for years to come.

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Add Color and Variety to Gardens with Edimentals

Big or small, estate or apartment, your garden is even more meaningful with beautiful plants that truly pull their own weight. Edimentals will satisfy the artistic gardener in you while lending a gourmet touch to your meals. These special plants reward us with the compound pleasures of beauty, nutrition and memorable flavors.

Thinking Outside the Box

Think of your garden as a holistic space of beauty and practicality. Here’s a great idea:  incorporate a couple of Monrovia’s globe artichoke plants into your flower bed for a little drama. The sharp, spiky foliage and intense purple blooms are secondary only to the juicy flavor of luscious home-grown artichokes.

Herbs: More Than Just a Good Look for Your
Garden

Who
doesn’t love a stem of fragrant English lavender popped into a glass of fresh lemonade?
And speaking of stunning plants, when did you last amaze your family with the
savory flavor of a dark, exotic bay leaf in a bowl of hot pasta? Both these edimentals
boast beautiful foliage, and add touches of striking texture to your garden.

As you design your garden this spring, slip in some Little Ragu Sweet Bay plants with their waxy, multi-toned deep greens. Together with prolific spiky purple splashes of Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender, these evergreen herbal edimentals deliver years of beauty and heady aromas.

Go Big or Go Home

Maybe your garden wants a wow factor of rich, exotic edimentals like fruiting olive trees or pineapple guava. The Manzanillo Fruiting Olive, for example, is one of Monrovia’s most popular edimentals. Smaller than a typical olive tree with fleshy plump olives, its exotic grayish foliage lends a romantic note to any warm-area garden.

The
tropical white blossoms of a pineapple guava are reminiscent of the islands.
The waxy white, red-streaked flowers are tasty, not to mention impressive. Toss
them into fruit salads, ice water or anything that calls for a pop of the
exotic. Then wait for the fruit that will make your mouth water.

Both
these amazing plants pull double duty by intensifying your garden visually, as
well as adding to your pantry. Beauty and taste – what more could we ask?

Luscious Beauty

No
need to separate vegetables from fruits, or isolate them in their own plots.
Try tucking edimentals in among your flashiest plants for an amazingly creative
look. The lush foliage of a compact, bushy blueberry is almost as enjoyable as
its fruit in your morning muffins. 

Ever heard of a beach plum? They grow wild in some areas with no special care at all. Monrovia’s Beach Plum grows almost effortlessly. Delicate white blossoms in the spring give way to juicy purple fruit in the summer. Tuck one of these in for texture, and for late summer jellies and jams.

Your friends will talk about your talents long after the dinner party when they discover those intense flavors and visuals were plucked right out of your beautiful garden. Maybe you’d like to treat them to a Monrovia gift card.

Edimentals from Monrovia: For clever gardeners.

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How to make sure fresh cut garden flowers last

Flowers can bring color
and life to a home. They can help make you feel good by brightening up any
room. Using flowers is a great way to change up the décor without having to
spend a lot of cash. Flowers are also portable, so you can move them around
until you find that perfect spot for them.

You can have fresh flowers delivered, or you can bring in some beautiful blooms from your garden. Doing this means you get to benefit from your hard gardening work and it can also promote more growth on your garden plants. If you decide to cut flowers from your own garden, you need to make sure that you cut them and care for them in the right way in order to make them last for as long as possible.

When is the best
time to cut garden flowers?

Cutting garden flowers
should always be done in the morning when their stems are hydrated from the
dew. As the day goes on, their stems dehydrate, with midday being the worst
time to cut. If you cut flowers at the wrong time, when stems are lacking
water, they are unlikely to last long in a vase. Remember to place cut flowers
in a bucket of water as soon as they are harvested.

If the flowers you are
cutting have more than one bud on every stem, like snapdragons, you should make
sure that one bud is almost open and at least one other is starting to open
before you cut. If you do not make sure this is the case, the buds are unlikely
to open while in a vase. If there is only a single flower on a stem, it should
be fully open before cutting.

How to cut garden
flowers

When cutting flowers
from your garden, make sure that you use the right tools. Always cut with a
sharp blade, and use garden clippers rather than household scissors. Clippers
are designed for cutting whereas scissors are designed for paper cutting and
can damage the stems of flowers.

Cut flowers around one
inch from the bottom of the central stem and always cut at a 45-degree angle.
Before you place the flowers in water, remove all leaves from the lower half of
the stem, the part that is going to be submerged in water.

Making sure water is at the right temperature

Bulb flowers, such as
tulips, like to be placed in cold water, but this does not apply to other
flowers. They should be placed in water that has a temperature of around 100 to
110° F. (38-43° C.). Water of this temperature is easier for flowers to absorb,
hydrating them faster.

Preserving cut garden flowers

Once a flower has been
cut from a plant, it needs to be provided with help in order for it to survive.
You can buy flower preservatives from the shop. These preservatives contain
sugar which is nutritionally beneficial, bleach which helps to get rid of
bacteria, and citric acid to ensure that the pH of the water is slightly
acidic. You can create your own preservative solution by mixing 1 teaspoon of
sugar, 1 teaspoon of bleach, and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice with 2 pints of
water.

Cutting and caring for
garden flowers in this way helps them to last longer in a vase, decorating your
home for several days.

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Choosing the Ideal Garden Location for Your Granny Flat

The
granny flat is fast becoming a residential feature in many locations, as many
elderly people and their relatives have found this to be an ideal accommodation
solution.

Clearly, making the decision to install a granny flat, or garden annex, will predetermine the area it is in, but this does not mean the state of its immediate surroundings should not also be a consideration. A granny flat can help people maintain a certain quality of life, but this is dependent on more than just the structure itself. What also matters is choosing the ideal garden location for your granny flat.

The Placemaking Principle

In
planning and architectural circles, placemaking is the idea that a space serves
the people who use it, and that where there is a building, what surrounds it
matters as much as the structure itself. It focuses
as much on the end-user as it does on the design.

On
a more intimate scale, you can apply this principle to the granny flat. For
many elderly people, the relocations they undertake later in life can feel
significant and also a little daunting. They may feel displaced or vulnerable,
and in downsizing, they might have had to dispose of various possessions they
will have become used to and attached to.

A
major benefit of the granny flat is that it gives people independence while
placing them immediately close by to a family support network. However, it is
vital that they feel totally at home in their new surroundings. If you look at
installing a granny flat from a placemaking perspective, the garden location is
hugely important.

A Room with a View

The
garden should present the granny flat resident with a good view. If you put enough
care and attention into your garden and its features, then it makes sense that
these should be clearly on view. Part of the garden annex
construction process is ensuring that the location works both in terms of the
overall look of the entire garden area, but also from the perspective of the
granny flat itself.

Light
and space are key elements here. Granny annexes should have windows
that let in natural light, while providing good views out onto the garden. It
is important to install the granny flat in a location that will maximize these features. Other
options include sky light roof windows and extra French doors, to ensure the
granny flat makes the most of even the quirkiest of garden settings.

Another
feature is to bring the outside closer by customizing the
granny flat with an outside deck, so that on pleasant days, the resident can
sit outside and enjoy the sense of being part to their garden surroundings,
while also having the comfort of their home close by.

The
key to all this is flexibility and adaptability. While the granny flat is a
contemporary, prefabricated form of accommodation, it is also a highly
versatile one.

A Garden Fit for Living In

Once
the garden has become a place where someone lives, it is vital to keep it in a
condition that suits this new purpose. This can also be about participation and
encouraging the person or people occupying the granny flat to be active in the
garden and its upkeep.

This
can work by adapting the garden so that its green areas are contained and easy to
manage, with a combination of grass and other landscape features such as
decking and gravel. Choose potted plants for ease of maintenance,
and consider non-slip resin surfaces and pathways to help navigate to and from
the granny flat.

With
the right planning, design and installation support, the granny flat and garden
will become a comfortable, welcoming home in its own unique surroundings.

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