Thursday, May 4, 2017

Crop Rotation

Research has shown that small and organic gardens can benefit from crop rotation, even if crop is moved only a few feet away from where they were grown the year before. Rotation can prevent plant disease from bacteria and spores that survive the winter; by simply planting a different type of vegetable, like cucumbers where cabbage grew the year before, one could starve off disease that could ruin your cabbage crops. This is because the disease carrying bacteria and spores might of survived the winter but they do not travel far in the soil. Rotation can also confuse insects and help prevent infestation.

Crop rotation brings lots of benefits to the soil itself, planting crops in the same spot year after year can deplete the soil of it nutrients, that will lead to crop failure and can only be fixed by not using the soil for a year or two and adding good compost to build up the nutrients. Soil can also benefit by the length of crop roots, some plants grow roots close to the surface, other crops have roots that grow deeper down into the soil; rotation keeps the soil from compacting.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Trending: #Telescopic garden tools

Getting down and digging in the dirt can give you a real “salt of the earth” type feeling but there are times when wish you could reach a little further without climbing over plants and that is where #telescopic garden tools can be a real help. Telescopic handles on garden tools can be a big help for seniors extending their reach and often times making it possible to garden sitting or standing up. They are also handy to reach back plants without stepping on border plants and at times even ease the pain at the end of the day.

#Telescopic handles are now available on Cultivator, Rake/Hoe, Metal Fan Rake and Trowels; they can extend your reach from 25 to 37 inches, many have comfort grip on steel or fiberglass handles. Other #Telescopic garden tools include Loppers with serrated cutting edge able to cut through 1-1/2” thickness with a 33” reach, Pruners with a 11-1/2” reach, and for heavy duty work there is the Telescopic Hedge Shears that can cut through 5/8” with a serrated cutting edge that locks in a reach up to 24.5”, some even with a soft gel handle. To make it easier to prune tall bushes or trees check out the #Telescopic Tree Pruner with a 13” curved, rotating head blade and an extended reach of 14 feet.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Global Thistle, bubbles of blue

Global Thistle/Pixabay
In the wonderful world of wild flowers there are many that gardeners do not care to have in their gardens but there are exceptions, like the Global Thistle with its beautiful large round flower heads in various shades of blue, that ranges from silver-gray to the deepest of blues. Global Thistle are easy to care for and long life plants that bloom in late summer. Depending on the variety, they grow in Zones 3 to 9, are very drought resistant, and will survive in full sun or partial shade in any type of soil; although they prefer poor, well drained soil that never gets soggy.

Global Thistle is a clump forming plants that grows three to five feet high with a spread of two feet, and a root system that can grows up to two feet deep. Care should be taken when handling Global Thistle plants as the foliage has tiny spikes that are quite prickly, also it is wise to deadhead the flower heads to prevent self-seeding. It is best to hand-sow the seeds in mid-spring, and divide the plants any time from autumn to spring. The only pests or diseases that is known to have an impact on Global Thistle plants is infestations by aphids.

'Taplow Blue'/Pixabay
For the more creative gardener Global Thistle are good for cutting and drying. Some of the more popular varieties are the dark blue flower heads of the 'Blue Globe', the somewhat metallic darker blue of the 'Veitch's Blue' and the bright blue flower heads of the 'Taplow Blue'. 

'Veitch's Blue'/Pixabay

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Twisting climbers

The use of climbing or vining plants in your garden can add interest to a dull area, color, flowers, attractive foliage all year or bear fruit for yourself or the birds.  Depending on the zone you live in, you can choose from evergreen or deciduous, fruit and/or flower bearing, long or short lived and climbing or ground covering.  Evergreen vines on back fence can add privacy and color throughout the year with little or no care.  With the use of trellises vines can be used to screen off various parts of your yard or can be used to block items like your air-conditioning or your compost bins. In fact, they can be used to add an ornamental architectural element to your space in various ways.

Training vines, keeps the where you want them. 
Vining plants are often referred to as climbers because of their self clinging and trailing ways, plus the fact that they will use almost any structure or solid object as their support system.   For this reason, you need to make sure that your climber will not ramble to unwanted areas by giving it training lessons.  A vigorous or full-grown climber, depending on the type, can become too heavy for its given support system.  So when choosing a climbing plant, thought has to be put into not only its soil and climactic tolerance, but also the type of support system and the increasing weight that it may have to hold over years of growth.

Ivy vines are great climbers.
Also make sure the way a climber/vine attaches itself will not cause future damage – it is surprising the holding and staying power of some climbers.  The toughest attach system is the self clinging aerial roots of Ivy vines and the self clinging adhesive pads of Parthenocissus climbers, both of these plants are grown mostly for autumn colors and are fast growers.   It is best to grow these climbers on a unpainted strong structure where they can grow for years undisturbed, such as a brick wall or shed because they have been known to literally take the paint off or the mortar from a brick wall during the removal process.  The other type of attachment system climbers use is called twining, it is the process of the climber to use tendrils or leave stalks to coil around its support system, best for use on trellis, fences and training on wooden structures.  Climbers/vines can also be used as ground-cover by letting them just trail on the ground. 

Other climbers/vines that are popular
Clematis comes in a wide array of colors and flower forms.
Black-eyed Susan can brighten a dark corner.

Bougainvillea adds a old-fashion look with its dainty flowers.

Leaf vines are mostly grown for their beautiful autumn colors.

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