Or is it the Seven Pillars of Horticultural Wisdom?
As everyone’s resolutions remind us, we love attaching a number to advice, a number smaller than the one I regard as most realistic: The Twenty Three Thousand Four Hundred and Sixty-Two Things It’s Important to Remember Before Getting Out of Bed.
So be warned: I haven’t really honed it down to only seven; these are just the first seven essentials that came to mind when I decided to do this. And not in order, either.
1. Make Compost
Short version: Mother Nature never throws anything away.
Longer version: Composting is the rare silk purse from sow’s ear, something for nothing, win-win. You start out with kitchen, yard and garden debris and wind up with two benefits: 1) a great soil amendment, and 2) many green points for avoiding the landfill.
It’s easy to fall into thinking that compost’s last name is bin, and that careful layering and turning are part of the deal. But piling shredded leaves in a corner counts too. So does “trench composting,” handy for those with little garden space, and so does bringing your kitchen scraps to a place (try the
You want a vegetable garden but the backyard is shaded by a stand of evergreen trees or is overrun by the kids’ toys and play area. What to do? Think outside the box, or fence as it were. Many of us rarely use our front yard. Many people only even see the front yard for a few brief moments when they pull into the garage or grab the mail. It’s time to change all that by planning a front yard vegetable garden.
Considerations for Front Yard Vegetable Gardens
Creating an edible front yard does not have to be complex. You might want to just incorporate an herb garden or potted vegetables tucked in amongst existing landscaping. In my neighborhood, every house has a parking strip. You know the ones, generally covered with grass that is often ignored. Many of my neighbors have replaced the grass with raised vegetable beds.
If you live in a neighborhood governed by a homeowner association, it would be wise to check the rules. Some homeowner associations dislike the idea of front yard vegetable gardens. You may be able to convince them that vegetables in the front lawn can also be beautiful.
There are plenty of things to consider when
When I sow seeds, I start with a handful of different seeds, then make a wish and toss the seeds over my shoulder and hope they all land on my nicely prepared seed trays. Now I wait and see what comes up in a month. How exciting is that? Basically, I sow twice as many seeds that I need, to accommodate the wide margin of error with germination. Sowing seeds, or shall I say “planting” seeds, is about as exciting as watching grass grow; seriously, I’m not kidding. However, this technique has brought forth beautiful plants, which have bloomed in my garden for years, and is a rewarding and cheap exercise. But let’s take a step backward and think about how to choose these seeds.
First, while staring, hyperventilating and drooling over the seed packets on the store wall, a catalog, or website, you may be overwhelmed about which seeds to buy. I say, “Buy them all.” How can I pick just one viola ─my favorite─ when there are ten different viola colors and a choice of frilly, frizzy or fuzzy petals? Think about what you would like to accomplish in your garden. Do you have a plan? I begin by
There’s a very beautiful thing about Mother Nature that happens when we don’t stuff her with too much gunk: Plants grow and animals live in harmony. Yes, it sounds like a children’s book written in the 1970s, but it’s also a notion that many an organic gardenerare getting wise to these days.
Companion planting, a practice used by organic and biodynamic gardeners, is the term given when one plants certain types of plants near each other because they are mutually beneficial. In the case of growing food in a garden plot, there are a number of flowers you can plant for natural pest control. Toss out the pesticides (or wait, maybe you should contact the EPA to find out how to properly dispose of that toxic waste) and instead plant some attractive and aromatic flowers. Ah, that’s biodynamic gardening for you.
What it is: Commonly grown and used for culinary purposes in Britain, borage is an herb still not well known in America. This annual produces star-shaped flowers and is wonderful used in herbal teas, tinctures and leafy green recipes.
What it’s good for: Borage deters hornworms and cabbage worms and can help all plants increase their disease resistance.
What it is: These beautiful
1. Sticky Traps – These can be purchased or made at home using a rigid material of a particular color that’s coated with a sticky substance. First you make sure the material is the right hue (colors like yellow, white, light blue and red each attract a different group of garden pests), then wrap in plastic wrap or a plastic bag (this makes it easier to remove trapped insects and reload), then cover that in organic adhesive like Tangle-Trap.
2. DIY All-Purpose Spray – Developed by the editors of Organic Gardening magazine over many years, this insect spray combines the repellent effects of garlic, onion, and hot pepper with the insecticidal and surfactant properties of soap. It’s particularly effective against leaf-eating garden pests, but apply only when necessary, as it can be fatal to pollinators and other beneficial insects.
3. Parasitic Nematodes – Don’t be scared by the word “parasite.” Or that other unfamiliar word. This term simply describes microscopic organisms whose life mission is to destroy pests that live underground. Beneficial nematodes move through the soil, they enter the body cavities of their target garden pests and release bacteria that kill that pest. Best of all, they’re completely safe for people, pets, and the environment, and are
These slow-moving insects are very attracted to beer. Fill an empty tuna or cat-food can with beer and bury it in your garden soil up to its rim. Overnight, slugs will move into the beer and drown. You can throw out the entire can in the morning and replace it with a fresh batch.
Put a board or two on the garden soil, and snails will take shelter in the damp shade beneath them. Pick up the boards and scrape the creatures into the trash. Always water your garden in the morning. If the soil is dry at night, critters like slugs and snails will be less active.
In the evening, roll up sheets of wet newspaper and lay them around the garden. At sunrise, earwigs will crawl inside the wet pages to take shelter. Collect the papers before they dry out, bugs and all. Don’t throw the newspapers into your trash cans, or the earwigs will soon escape and make their way back to the garden. Either burn the papers and bugs, shake the earwigs into a toilet or sink and flush them down the drain, or tie up the papers and bugs tightly inside a plastic bag-with
Great Ways to Secure Your Home & Neighborhood
You probably don’t like to think about crime, especially when it comes to your new home and neighborhood. But no matter your income, lifestyle or where you live, crime, fires, and other natural disasters are a fact of life. That doesn’t mean you’re defenseless, though. Put the following home security and fire safety tips into action and your new home and neighborhood will be safer and more secure.
Reliable dead-bolt door locks and sturdy window latches help to ensure your home safety. Check to make sure your doors and windows are sturdy and secure.
Peepholes with magnifying lenses let you see who’s at your door – without opening it .
Be Careful with Spare Keys
If you leave a spare key outside, be creative. Burglars routinely check under flowerpots and welcome mats as well as window ledges.
Secure your new home by leaving your outside lights on at night. If your neighborhood is dimly lit, ask your municipal authorities to add streetlights or replace existing bulbs with ones of higher wattage. Leave one or two lamps on inside your house when you’re not at home. Strategic lighting is a valuable deterrent.
Be sure your address
Expert Advice on Making Your Paint Job Work for You
Give your current home a coat of neutral colors and prospective buyers will be able to get a good picture of how their furniture might look in your home. And you’ll want to give your new home a look that’s distinctively you. So follow these basic steps for a beautifully painted interior. You’ll learn how to prime the walls and use a roller, cover hard-to-reach spots with a wall brush and paint the woodwork.
Step 1: Prime time
Unless the existing finish is flat you’ll need to apply a primer coat to make the new paint adhere. On flat-painted walls that require only minor repairs you may simply choose to spot prime. For walls with larger areas of patching plaster, it’s advisable to use a sealer or primer/sealer. Priming doesn’t require as much care as painting, but it’s done the same way; follow the next three steps, which you’ll repeat with the paint after the primer dries.
Step 2: Ceiling brushwork
Start with the ceiling, first covering the perimeter and unpainted areas around the fixtures.
Step 3: Ready to roll
You’ll want to begin with the ceiling (moving widthwise), in sections about six feet square. Use a
Make it fun by assessing your needs out front!
Will it last? Will it be hard to take care of? How much should I spend?
Like the move process, the task of properly furnishing your home can be an anxiety-inducing experience, especially since a furniture purchase can seem so very final. But if you follow some smart shopping basics, you’ll reduce your stress and make the right decisions without panicking.
Check out some of our tips below as you approach the process of furnishing your home.
Decide what you like
Make a list of the colors, textures and patterns that you prefer. Mixing and matching is an acceptable practice, as long as it’s within reason. But if you don’t trust yourself, try to assign your décor to one of the major categories:
- Casual (comfy-looking, earthy, woods)
- Contemporary (sharp, angular, metallic)
- Country (soft, floral, painted woods)
- Traditional (antiques, dark red woods, damask and chintz)
- Eclectic (ethnic or artisan pieces, highly individualized)
Generally, it works best to decide on one main theme for a room, but use contrast to accent your look. And if you’re interested in doing some home décor research, check out TV shows, magazines, books, catalogs, Web sites and furniture chat rooms for ideas. A lot of expert’s
It’s not often that you get to start over in a garden. However, if you’re building a new house or have purchased a house on an open landscape, it’s like working with a blank slate. While most gardeners would love to have such an open canvas to draw on, it can be overwhelming. As much as we complain about trees, walls, and outbuildings altering our plantings, at least we have the “bones” of the garden to work around. In an open meadow or around a newly built home, the flat barrenness creates its own challenges.
It’s important to take the time to plan a new landscape on paper before buying all your favorite plants to inhabit the ground. Draw a diagram of your yard with the actual dimensions and compass directions. Sketch out areas that will be for play and entertaining, flower gardens, food production, and other uses. At this stage just use bubble drawings to indicate approximately where these main areas will be in your yard.
Once you know the usage of these areas, then you can start matching the plant to the land. For play and entertaining areas, use grass or durable groundcovers to create space for walking. Place edible
1. Choose the pots.
Make certain there are one or more holes in the bottom of your container to allow water to flow out freely. Insufficient drainage can cause roots to drown, and the plant to die prematurely.
Almost anything can be used as a container for plants, so what type of pot you choose depends upon your style preference and budget. If you prefer lightweight containers, which are easy to move around and can weather winter temperatures, look for resin, fiberglass, and plastic. Bonus: These materials are not porous, so they absorb less moisture than unglazed clay or wood―leaving more for the plant.
2. Choose the potting mix.
Do not use soil from the yard or garden. It can be filled with weed seeds, insects, and fungal diseases.
Buy potting soil at your local garden center. It is a loose and light mixture of materials like peat moss, vermiculite, and, often, decomposed organic matter. If you are planting succulents or cacti, use a mix especially formulated for them.
To reduce plant maintenance, buy potting mix containing a time-release fertilizer and moisture-retaining polymer crystals. If that type of mix is not available, buy a time-release fertilizer (such as Cockadoodle Doo) and a jar of
Survey the Yard
Make note of tree limbs that should be removed or cabled, especially those that overhang structures. Hire an arborist to maintain large trees.Cut down last year’s perennial foliage, and toss it into the compost pile. Rake mulch from beds planted with bulbs before foliage appears, and refresh mulch in other planting areas after soil warms. Check fences, steps, and pathways for disrepair caused by freezing and thawing.
Order Tools and Plants
Tune up tools so everything is ready when things start growing. Make note of what is missing, and order tools for the new growing season. Choose new plants for the garden. Order perennials, trees, and shrubs for spring planting.
Get Ready to Mow
Send the mower and leaf blower for servicing, or if you have the right tools, sharpen the mower blades yourself. Refill your mower with oil, install fresh spark plugs, and lubricate moving parts if necessary. Clear the lawn of winter debris, and look for areas that need reseeding before mowing.
Prune Trees and Shrubs
Remove dead, damaged, and diseased branches from woodyplants. Thin and trim summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bush, hydrangea, and most roses, except for old-fashioned once bloomers. Prune cold-damaged