7 Steps to a Healthy Organic Flower Garden

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Gardeners new to organic gardening can become frustrated when the natural methods they use on their flowers fail. It is disappointing when insect soap kills everything except the garden pest, or when compost from carefully tended bins fails to give us the armloads of cut flowerswe expected.

Good organic gardening practices encompass more than just the best natural pest control spray or the newest plant variety.

Gardeners must ensure that each piece of the puzzle is in place for a lush and vibrant organic garden.

Create Healthy Soil

Although gardeners may debate the value of various organic soil amendments, and may dabble in peat moss or vermiculite for problematic soils, conventional wisdom shares that compost is the number one soil builder for organic gardeners.

How To Use Compost In A Flower Garden

Well-rotted compost helps the soil retain moisture, encourages beneficial microbes, adds nutrients to the soil, and normalizes pH. It’s almost impossible to add too much compost to the soil, so start a compost bin if you haven’t already to create a ready supply of this garden essential.

The Right Plant for the Location

If you’ve fallen in love with a plant you saw on vacation or

Hot Water And Plant Growth: Effects Of Pouring Hot Water On Plants

hot-water-plants

Garden lore is full of interesting methods of treating and preventing diseases that no same gardener would actually try at home. Even though treating plants with hot water sounds like it should be one of those crazy home remedies, it can actually be very effective when applied properly.

Hot Water and Plant Growth

You’ve probably heard a lot of really unusual home remedies for pests and plant diseases (I know I have!), but using hot water on plants is actually something that works quite effectively on certain pests and pathogens. Unlike various pesticides or home remedies, hot water baths for plants can be quite safe for the plant, environment and gardener alike, provided you’re careful how you apply the water.

Before we get started in all this hocus-pocus, it’s important to note the hot water effects on plant growth. When you add water that’s too hot to plants, you’ll end up killing them – there’s no two ways about it. The same boiling water that cooks your carrots in the kitchen will also cook your carrots in the garden, and there’s nothing magical about moving them outdoors that changes this.

So, with this in mind, using boiling water

6 Ways to Get a Healthy Organic Garden Naturally

Gardener

Everyone wants a luscious, green garden. But getting that goddess-esque garden can be a tad difficult (and pricey) if you are a beginner. The following no-frill garden tending and growing tasks are great, cost-effective ways to keep your garden’s soil healthy and plants well fed without breaking the bank (or harming the environment.)

  1. Compost, compost, compost

Compost “feeds” your soil and enriches it. Also, it takes “scrapped” materials (stuff and plant materials you’d normally throw away) and uses the materials for good (the good of your garden that is.) Note: Make sure you don’t compost the following items:

  • Bread Products
  • Cooking Oils
  • Meat and Milk Products
  • Diseased Plants
  • Colored and Glossy Paper
  • Human or Animal Waste
  • Rice
  • Sawdust
  • Weeds
  • Walnuts
  • Acidic Items
  1. Mulch

According to Treehugger, mulch can help retain water, keep weeds away and helps soil from drying. You can easily mulch with lawn clippings and shredded leaves.

  1. Fertilizer

Use an organic fertilizer, such as recycled dead leaves. Dead leaves, manure and other natural garden dwellers (such as insects, dead insects, etc.) can help fertilize your soil.

  1. Save seeds and take cuttings

Cultivating and saving seeds from your plantings from year to year will save you a lot of money. And according to the Treehugger article, over time,

Removing a Tree That Died in the Winter

Keeping dead trees is not a good idea. As the tree decays inside, it gets weaker. It will eventually fall and may cause damage. Depending on the size of the tree, you may be able to cut it down safely. If there is a risk of doing some damage in the process, it’s best to leave this job to the professionals.

If the tree has already fallen, you may be able to cut it up yourself and get rid of the debris, perhaps by burning. However, whether you cut down the tree or it has fallen, you will also have the problem of getting rid of the stump. Stumps are unsightly and they can be a tripping hazard, especially of they are concealed by surrounding vegetation. Tree stump removal can be tricky. You should carefully assess any stumps to see if you are able to remove them yourself.

Larger stumps are more difficult to remove than smaller ones. Similarly, the stumps of old trees will be more difficult to get out than those of younger trees. Stumps of evergreen trees are easier to remove than those of deciduous trees. The root systems of the latter tend

18 Tips for Decorating Your Garden

1. Use Ornaments as Finishings

Much more than an afterthought, garden ornaments can guide how you shape and use your outdoor space, and affect how it feels when you’re in it. A wrought-iron gate can mark the entrance to a world of green, a tree-hung lantern raise your perspective, a curved bench inspire a nap. Carefully placed, pretty yet practical, these elements offer subtle but effective clues: Turn here. Look up. Slow down. They also give a garden space a finished look in all four seasons. The trick is to not overdo it.
2. Design for Outdoor Rooms
“A furnished garden shouldn’t look too perfect or contrived,” says Susie Beall, an interior designer who, with her architect husband, Ed, conceived the gardens on their rolling acre in Southern California. Their goal: to create outside rooms as comfortable as the ones inside.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of Patina

Just as they remade their 1950s ranch house in the style of a Tuscan farmhouse, the couple wanted a landscape with patina. They started by adhering to a simple, mostly green palette of plants starring pepper, cypress, and Chinese elm trees amid rosemary, acanthus, Virginia creeper, and white ‘Iceberg’ roses. “Garden decor

How to Plant Flowers

Part 1 of 3: Planning your Flower Garden

1. Get the best soil. Flowers, like all plants, need good soil in order to grow up strong and healthy. Regardless of whether you are planting your flowers in a pot or a garden, good soil is a must. Avoid soil that is heavy with clay, sand, or rocks, and that has a balanced pH near 7. Flowers need at least six inches of loose soil to start out growing in, so loosen up a top layer at least this deep.

  • Test your soil’s pH level to determine if you need to add anything. If your soil has a low pH (high acidity) below 6.5, add in ground sulfur to neutralize it. High pH levels (too alkaline) can be rectified by adding in ground limestone. Both are available at garden centers.
  • Add in organic materials to add nutrients to your soil. Decomposing leaves and plant matter mixed with your soil will help your plants to grow healthier and faster. Do this a few weeks or months before you plant your flowers so that the nutrients have time to thoroughly mix with the soil.
  • Mix in some fertilizer . For an added nutrient boost, purchase a

How to Choose Flowers for a Garden

Steps

1. Divide your garden area into sections according to the amount of sunlight they receive during the day. Use a can of white spray paint to mark off the areas, and observe them over a week to 10 days to make sure they are accurately marked.

  • You will need this information when choosing garden flowers so that taller flowers do not cut off the sun from the lower growing plants.
2. Measure your garden area, overall and individual sections. Make a scale drawing of your garden, marking off the sections and indicating the sun density of each.
3. Browse your garden catalogs making notes of which flowers you are particularly attracted to and their light requirements. Check their space requirements and compare that with your scale drawing to see how many flowers you can fit in a plot.

4. Choose a garden color theme. It can be as simple as choosing 1 or more colors and staying in those color families, or you can plan out a color riot with small patches of every color imaginable scattered around.

  • One very pretty look is planting a color gradient by choosing 1 color, such as red. Plant the palest

The 7 Habits of Successful Gardeners

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

Creating An Edible Front Yard – Tips For Front Yard Gardens

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

Choosing Seeds for a Flower Garden

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

5 Flowers to Plant for Natural Pest Control

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.

Borage

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.

Chrysanthemums

What it is: These beautiful

5 Ways To Eliminate Garden Pests Without Nasty Chemical Pesticides

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

5 Pesky Garden Pests and How to Get Rid of Them Naturally

Slugs
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.

Snails
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.

Earwigs
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

Home Safety Tips

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.

Lock Up

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.

Install Peepholes

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.

Lighten Up

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.

Visible Address

Be sure your address

Interior Painting: Tips & Tricks

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

Choosing the Right Furniture

 

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.

  1. 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

Tips to Choosing Cushions for Outdoor Furniture

Choosing cushions for outdoor furniture isn’t rocket science, but at the same time you want to ensure you choose the best quality cushions to create a welcoming and comfortable outdoor space that you can enjoy now and in the future.

The first thing to focus on is quality. When it comes to choosing cushions for outdoor furniture, you need to ensure you choose a good quality product which is going to manage the harsh weather conditions and provide you with years of use. Quality can only be determined through extensive research, reviewing the supplier and then checking the items in detail when they arrive on your doorstep.

Take careful note of the fabric used in the making of the cushions for outdoor furniture. Cushions used in outdoor spaces need to be stronger, resistant and able to manage outdoor conditions, from harsh sunlight to driving rain to howling winds. This means you need to choose a strong fabric which can handle all these conditions and more without the cushion losing it’s colour, structure or overall style. If you were to put an average scatter cushion on your outdoor furniture, it will be damaged after the first heavy rainfall. There are going to

Planning Your New Landscape

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

How to Care for Potted Plants

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

Spring Gardening Tips

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