Growing hostas can be very satisfying for a gardener – they’re beautiful, hardy, and grow in a variety of climates. But sometimes, these perennials can grow enormously large, which is when you start thinking, “Maybe I could split this plant to fill in a different spot!” This, of course, is called “dividing”, and it’s a relatively simple task for any gardener and one that I have done countless times in my own garden, over the years.
Hostas are tough and will survive division just about any time you do it, often without much wilting at all. However, hostas divided in the spring or summer often fail to make handsome garden plants until the next year. They’ll show signs of the inevitable damage to buds or leaves all season, which is why the end of summer (at least a month before your first frost) is the ideal time to do this job. The plants will have ample time to develop new roots before winter and will unfurl unblemished leaves in the spring.
To divide a hosta clump, begin with a shovel or spade, cutting all around the clump then prying it from the ground with a digging fork. Shake off as much soil as you can, then move the clump where you can rinse all the soil from the roots with a hose. Removing the soil makes it much easier to see where you could make your divisions with minimal damage to leaves and roots.
Start by dividing the clump in half. If the hosta is a spreading variety, it should be fairly easy to pull apart by hand or to pry apart using two digging forks back to back. If it’s the sort that makes a tight crown, use a knife to cut down into the crown from the top. Be sure to steer clear of the large stems and don’t cut so far that you slice off roots beneath. Once you’re nearly through the crown, you’ll be able to pull it apart.
If you want more divisions, rinse away the soil in the exposed center of the plant, and divide the pieces in half. Proceed in this way until you have the number of pieces you want, right down to single shoots. As you work, cover the divisions with a damp cloth to keep the roots and leaves from drying. Replant the divisions immediately.
How many divisions should you make? Well, hostas are among the few perennials that are happiest and look best if never divided. So if you’re dividing the hostas to develop a new planting scheme, divide the clumps into just two or four pieces so the garden will have a finished look in a year or two. Single-shoot divisions can take several years to regrow leaves of full size. I have a five-year old clump grown from a small piece whose leaves are only half the size of a mature specimen planted next to it at around the same time. Your smallest divisions, especially the really tiny ones that inevitably break away are best planted in a nursery bed to grow on to full size.
If you take care to do the work carefully, dividing a hostas plant can help you spread the beauty of this hardy beauty to other corners of your garden. And if you need further help doing this work without damaging the plant, check out this Youtube video that features the entire process from beginning to end.
When you find that some of your favorite perennials did not survive a bad winter, leaving your garden with a big bare spot, you don’t have to wait to bring color back. You need to find a fast growing perennial that will bloom as early as possible. Fortunately, there is a large variety that are fast growing and will produce flowers in the first season. There are fast growing perennials that can be used as ground covers, borders, bedding plants and vines and the blooms come in every color on the spectrum. You can find fast growing perennials from cold zone 2 to warm zone 9.
Ajuga – Chocolate Chip is hardy in zones 3 to 9, grows to about 4 inches high and 18 inches wide. It has blue flowers and in the fall the foliage turns chocolate brown. It makes a great ground cover or container plant and does best in shady areas.
Aster – Sapphire is hardy in zones 4 to 1, grows 15 inches high and 24 inches wide with lilac/blue colored flowers. It will bloom in August and September, likes full sun but is tolerant of a bit of shade.
Black-eyed Susan – Goldsturm is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and is deer resistant. It grows to 24 inches high and 24 inches wide, like full sun and had bright yellow flowers.
Russian Sage – Little Spire is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and grows to 36 inches high and 18 inches wide with lavender flowers and silvery colored leaves. It loves the heat and sun and is drought resistant.
Sedum – Angelina is hardy in zones 3 to 1, grows to 6 inches high and 14 inches wide with yellow flowers and golden yellow leaves. It needs well drained soil.
Sedum – Neon sedum spectabile ‘neon’ is hardy in zones 3 to 9, blooms in the fall, grows to 24 inches high and 24 inches wide, likes partial sun and has pink flowers with light green leaves that turn yellow in the fall.
Veronica – Royal Candles Speedwell is hardy in zones 3 to 9 grow to about 15 inches high and 18 inches wide and have blue flowers with deep green leaves. This one has a long growing season, from June to September
Hollyhock – Peaches ‘n Dreams is hardy in zones 2 to 8, produces double flowers that are peach colored with tints of raspberry, pink and apricot. They need full sun and well drained soil.
Geranium – Tiny Monster is hardy in zones 4 to 11, grows to about 12 inches high and has a spread of about 40 inches and magenta colored flowers that turn bronze and purple in the fall.
While it is true that there are a large number of different homes available in the market, most of them are not going to be anything close to your dream homes. If you want to have the home that you have always wanted, it is very important that you consider building a custom home. This is a great way for you to customize your design and ensure that everything is according to your specifications. All you should do is learn about the building a custom home process. Listed below are the various steps that you are going to have to go through if you want to build the perfect home without any unnecessary stress.
Get Your Finances in Order
This is something you should do right off the bat because you are probably going to need a large amount of funds in order to start building your own home. Do you know exactly do you want? Are you budgeting for unexpected events that may occur? When I built my home, the garage door broke down right afterwards and was not under warranty because of some modifications we made. We were forced to contact a Garage Door Company to have it fixed.
The process can be very expensive indeed, and you are going to need to funds to be as regular as possible otherwise you might end up getting delayed without warning. If any financial mishaps were to occur, your home is going to end up being a lot more difficult to build than it would have otherwise. Hence, before you embark on this journey you have to analyze all of your assets and settle all of your debts in order to make this as smooth as possible
Find the Right Architect
You are not going to be building your home with your own two hands. Chances are you don’t know a lot about home construction in the first place, so if you truly want to be able to make the most of what this opportunity has to offer you have to think about hiring a professional. These professionals have a knack for understanding what it is you really want, and they can help you get the job done as quickly as possible. They can also give you some suggestions in order to make your home the best that it can be.
Spend Time on Design
One of the biggest blunders that people end up making when they are trying to build their own homes is not spending enough time on design. If you want your home to look truly beautiful, you have to be willing to put the sort of time necessary to make it the best that it can be. It can be frustrating to have to wait until your home is ready, but waiting for a good home is better than getting an inferior home in a shorter period of time.
Find the Right Neighborhood
The next thing you are going to should do is find a neighborhood that you feel like you are going to fit into nicely. Your neighborhood will form a big part of whether or not you like your new home, so make sure that it has everything you need. It needs to be close to good schools, in a beautiful area and the people you will be living with need to have similar ideas as you so that you can spend the rest of your days surrounded by people that are going to give you positive interactions that you can keep coming back to.
Now that you have found a neighborhood that you have fallen in love with, the next thing you are going to should do is buy land in this neighborhood. Empty plots are available in a large number of places, and you have to make sure that the plot does not have any problems with it. Try to sweep the plot to find any discrepancies, and find out the history of the plot as well so that you can be sure that there will be no surprises making it difficult for you to enjoy your new home as much as possible.
Stick to a Schedule
The great thing about making your home is that once the process is over, you will be at the end of your journey and can start enjoying the rest of your life. However, it is very important that you stick to a schedule. This is going to allow you to get your home on time. Delays are something that can often not be avoided but you should try your best to avoid them anyway otherwise things might end up becoming a lot more difficult for you in the long run.
There are a number of indoor plant problems that can plague your garden. Bugs, fungus, and mold are the most common issues that develop in an indoor garden. These indoor plant problems often go unnoticed because of today’s efficient hydroponic setups. It is not necessary to hand-water and inspect your plants as much if you have the right timers and pumps. Checking your crops periodically for the following indoor plant problems will help prevent a major infestation in your garden.
Why they occur
Growing conditions for indoor gardens are quite different than those found outside. Outdoor crops must face a variety of weather conditions, from gusting wind to extreme heat. The challenging environment makes outdoor plants stronger as they go through the various seasons. Indoor plants do not get the benefit of these environmental stressors, which makes them more vulnerable to damage. Compounding the problem is the controlled, warm environment of most indoor gardens, which is perfect for fungi and bugs.
Inspect the leaves
Check your plants’ leaves first as this is the most obvious place to find indoor plant problems. Dirt or other debris on the surface of the leaves can interfere with the plant’s ability to receive sunlight for photosynthesis. If you are able to remove individual plants from your indoor garden, it is best to wash off any dirt or dust in the sink. Use a slow stream, so you do not blast the plant’s leaves with water. A watering can with a sprinkler-type faucet also works well for cleaning off your plant’s leaves, especially if you cannot easily take the plants out of your indoor garden setup. Make sure to wash the underside of the leaves as well, since many insects lay their eggs there.
If you have seen signs of bugs or damage on your plants, you need to figure out what type of insects you are dealing with. Different insects require different types of removal or insecticide. Removal by hand and a thorough cleansing will be safer for your plants than using chemical-based pesticides, but this is very time-consuming and may not keep insects from returning if you have a major infestation. After picking or scraping off the insects by hand, rinse the underside of the leaves with a moderately forceful stream of water to remove any eggs. Scrape off any eggs that remain on the leaves, if you can see them. Some insects lay eggs that are too small to see with the naked eye. You can use a magnifying glass to
The soil itself may be the source of your indoor plant problems. Some types of infestations work their way up from the soil into the plant’s roots. Flushing out the soil is the only way to get rid of these infestations without transplanting the entire plant. Thoroughly drench the soil with water and let it seep out the bottom. If your plant needs nutrition, this is a good time to add a bit of diluted liquid fertilizer.
Deer resistant landscape trees many not seem like an important investment, but if you live in an area with a heavy deer population, you’ve seen the damage that a hungry deer can do. Just like any other danger to a tree’s survival, deer can eat on the bark and leaves of a tree making it unsustainable for growth. Fortunately, there are deer resistant landscape trees that will allow you to have a vibrant and thriving yard design. These five deer resistant tree suggestions will keep your lawn looking its best all year round.
#1 Blue Nest Spruce
The Blue Nest Spruce is a slow growing, dwarf size evergreen that has blue and green foliage. If you have a rock garden that facilitates your landscape design, a Blue Nest Spruce will thrive in those surroundings. Due to its magnificent color and hearty design, the Blue Nest Spruce will add an eye-popping element to your landscape. This dwarf variety hosts an attractive globe of richly colored needles and requires minimal watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Due to its versatility, It is also a fantastic addition to a shrub borders. The Blue Nest Spruce enjoys a sunny habitat with well-drained soil. The Blue Nest Spruce is an excellent tree for adding depth, color and texture to your landscape design. Best of all, it is known for being completely deer resistant.
#2 The Gingko Tree
This ageless wonder makes for the perfect deer resistant addition to a landscape design. The Gingko tree can have a lifespan up to several hundred years, so it is known for its superb structure and stability. The foliage on the Gingko tree turns bright yellow in autumn making it a showpiece for the yard. In addition, the Gingko tree produces fruit that is an orange color when it is ripe. In addition, this tree can grow to be quite tall, so pruning could be a necessity depending on your yard’s needs. The Gingko is indigenous to China, Japan, and Korea, where it first found its place in the mountain regions. Today the tree is often planted in suburbs, populous cities, and highly trafficked areas due to its resistance to urban emissions and wildlife.
#3 The Mimosa Tree
The Mimosa tree, known for its silk features, is known for its dramatic ornamental features. Of all the deer resistant landscape options, the Mimosa tree could be the most lovely. The gorgeous scented fluffy flowers and dramatic fern-like foliage make this one a real eye pleaser. Due to the fragrant characteristics of this tree, it is attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds. Typically, the Mimosa tree grows to about twenty feet in height thus making it a wonderful complementary asset for a landscaped yard. Mimosa trees grow very quickly but don’t have an extremely long life span. Interestingly, each leaf is made up of many smaller tiny leafs that are covered in little white fuzzy hairs. That is why the tree is known for its silk like appearance. Due to its deer resistant nature, it makes for a superb addition to a thriving landscape design.
#4 The Sassafras Tree
Versatility and widespread appeal make the Sassafras tree a perfect fit for any landscaped garden area. If you want a yard design that looks quite natural and ethereal, the Sassafras will incorporate into the scheme quite appropriately. The Sassafras tree can be found in a wide range of regions and climate zones within the United States including Maine and Texas. A unique characteristic of this deciduous tree is that it has leaves that are shaped like a fluffy glove. Its yellow flowers bloom in the spring and omit a lovely fragrance. The foliage of the Sassafras tree are a soft green color and and turn vibrant colors during the fall. Deer resistant landscape trees might not be appealing to deer, but their beauty and attractive fragrance makes the Sassafras a people’s favorite.
#5 The Red Maple Tree
If you are in need of a taller landscape tree for the corner of your yard, the deer resistant Red Maple tree is a likely alternative. This lovely deciduous tree can grow up to forty feet in height. Due to the variegated light and dark green leaf combination, the Red Maple tree adds drama and color to a landscaped yard. In early spring, red flowers encompass the branches of the tree making room for the fresh leaves that are preparing to form. Additionally, the leaves of the Red Maple turn a beautiful red color during the fall season. Due to the Red Maple’s quick growth, sap can be used to make syrup but its flavor is not as tasty as that from other maple varieties. The attractive red colors and deer resistant qualities make it a beautiful addition to a landscaped yard.
Deer resistant landscape trees are critical to the maintenance and design of a well-planned yard. Chewed pieces of bark, damaged leaves, and broken branches are not an eye-appealing feature of an outdoor yard design. These tree varieties can help you have a landscape that is a true neighborhood showpiece. And if you wish to have your unwanted trees removed and new ones planted the way it should match perfectly with your landscape, call for tree removal services near you. They can assist you and even give you great deals and tips on keeping a 5-star yard.
Plants with fragrant leaves will add a lot to your garden scene. Ornamentals that have a rich perfume such as stocks, narcissus, carnations and comparable subjects, are of course, well-known. Creating the same kind of an environment but with foliage plants will prove an interesting gardening adventure.
One of the most delightful fragrances in the plant kingdom emanates from the leaves of the diosma, often called coleonema by nurserymen. This ornamental is more familiarly known as “breath of heaven” which is an apt description. Two varieties are available: Alba, which produces white toned flowers and Purpurea which develops blooms of a purple-pink tinge. The plant has somewhat the appearance of a heath and demands a spot out in the sun. Rubbing the leaves together causes the fragrance to be more pronounced.
For a clean fragrance that will remind you of the great outdoors, choose Libocedrus decurrens. This is a California native and as such is sure to succeed in your garden. It has what is known as a “woodsy” smell; it is like bringing the mountains to your garden. This incense cedar is well adapted for the average landscape, being neither too large nor too small . At maturity, the tree should approximate a height of from 40 to 50 feet.
Libocedrus decurrens is somewhat on the formal side and this characteristic should be kept in mind relative to its surroundings. The tree has a stately shape and is well proportioned. The foliage is dense, the tree being quite full in the center. It assumes a pyramidal type of growth. The aromatic smell should aid in wiping out gasoline fumes that may blow into your garden from the street.
A somewhat taller tree is eucalyptus citriodora, so named because of its lemon-like scent. This specimen grows to around 70 feet high and gets there rather rapidly. One distinguishing mark of the eucalyptus citriodora is its white trunk that, because of the smoothness of the surface, appears to be polished. The leaves which are slender in shape have the exact pungency of a lemon.
Myrtus communis, the myrtle of Roman times and well known throughout the pages of history, is one of Southern California’s most popular hedge plants; and deservedly so. The foliage is shiny in appearance and highly aromatic in fragrance, the small white flowers give way in early spring to blackberries.
For hedge purposes you have a choice of two excellent myrtles: The common type is the large-growing specimen, going from four to eight feet. Variety compacta, which in late years has become increasingly more popular, ranges from three to six feet. Both varieties are hardy down to 15 degrees temperature and tolerate a great deal of pruning. This allows shaping the plants as wished. These myrtles also perform well as specimen plants. They require very little care.
Salvia officinalis, the green sage of the culinary arts, is as important in the kitchen, as an herb, as it is in the garden as an ornamental. Housewives who take their cooking, or seasoning, seriously are well acquainted with the magic powers of the leaves of a sage plant. It is a perennial and will continue on in your garden for many years. The blooms which appear in racemes are purple, blue and white.
We prune trees for their health and for our aesthetic pleasure. While major tree pruning is a dangerous job best left to professionals, pruning small trees is a job that can be handled by any gardener. Any job that can be managed with large secateurs or a pruning saw and does not require the use of a tall ladder or climbing equipment is suitable for the amateur.
Late winter and very early spring is the best time to prune trees. This is just before their growth period begins. All the tree’s stored energy is available to heal the wound made by pruning. If you prune later in the year, it is harder for the tree to recover. Of course, if a branch is damaged, it can be pruned in any season, the clean cut from a pruning saw will heal better than the splintered ends left by wind damage or an accident. Quick healing is desirable because open wood is an invitation to infestation and infection.
Pruning is desirable for the tree’s health. Cut out dead wood and diseased branches. Also, remove any branches that rub against each other. Constant rubbing will wear the bark away, leaving a raw spot that is vulnerable to infection and to insects. If two branches are crossed, cut out one of them before they begin rubbing against each other. When you have accomplished this, you will have a far healthier tree.
Pruning can also increase the gardener’s comfort in the garden and the pleasure he finds there. Any tree branch that crosses a path and constantly annoys walkers should be removed. If a tree casts heavy shade and you want to grow flowers beneath it, you can increase available sunlight dramatically by removing the lower limbs.
A tree can also be pruned to make it more beautiful. You can remove a misshapen growth that resulted from earlier damage (or someone else’s inept pruning). You can thin out the branches to make the tree appear more graceful. You can remove some top growth to encourage blossoms and fruit on the lower branches. Follow the natural growth pattern to enhance the tree’s shape, and see how beautiful it can be!
Where to cut the branch? Never, never cut half-way down the limb. The branch will die back to its base anyway, and the dying wood will invite pests and disease. Always cut at the base of the branch. If you look closely, you will see a bulge at the spot where a twig meets a branch, or a branch meets the trunk of the tree. This is called the branch collar. Cut just outside the branch collar, and the wound will heal very quickly.
Twigs and small branches can be removed with secateurs. Larger branches require the use of a pruning saw. Don’t try to use a carpenter’s saw for this job. The large, deeply-cut teeth of a pruning sew are especially designed to cut cleanly through green wood. If you are pruning a large branch, start by cutting from upward on the bottom of the branch, just past the branch collar. Then cut down from the top until the branch is sawn through. If you don’t make the bottom cut first, the weight of the falling branch is likely to tear a large strip of bark from the tree, leaving a wound that is difficult for the tree to heal.
Gardeners were once advised to paint or otherwise seal the stump. This isn’t really necessary if you’ve cut just beyond the branch collar. The tree can heal an incision at that spot very quickly, and paint will only delay healing.
So go ahead and cut out any dead or diseased wood. Cut out crossed and rubbing branches. Cut out unsightly growth. Arrange a junk removal service if you can’t handle it, then walk away. Remember, you can always prune more branches later, but you can’t replace the ones you cut by mistake!
Prune properly, and enjoy the healthy trees in your beautiful garden!
When it’s bitter cold outside and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, it’s difficult for most of us to think much about our backyard vegetable gardens. But to the true garden enthusiast, sitting next to the fireplace with the new seed catalog that just arrived in the mail is a great way to spend a blustery winter evening, and the thoughts of what and when to plant are a source of pure enjoyment.
Even the novice gardener may be aware of the fact, however, that in many parts of the country, the garden soil can be worked as early as late February and certainly by mid-March. If they get that “green-thumb fever,” they may be curious to know what types of plants can be started early, even if they have to wait until after the last frost before setting out most of the regular crops.
Here’s the good news…
The good news for those who just can’t wait to have something to tend is that there are some cool weather plants that actually do quite well in late winter and early spring. In fact, some of these need to be both planted and harvested before warm weather comes around. Obviously, setting plants out and burying seeds will always be subject to the complete thawing of your topsoil. Where the ground in the garden can be worked in early March, however, here are a few ideas that might work to satisfy those eager gardeners who can’t wait to get started:
1. Onion Sets. Most types of onions do quite well when they are planted directly in the garden as onion sets in mid-March. At the garden shop, the small, partially grown bulbs are usually packaged as bundles. For most backyard vegetable gardens, one or two bundles of each onion color will be plenty.
2. Radishes. Radishes can be a great fix for the gardener who is so anxious to get the season started. Planted as seeds in a shallow furrow, radishes love the cool weather, and are good selections for March gardening. Both the round red varieties (like the Cherry Belle) and the long white root types (like the Icicle) radishes can be purchased in seed packets at the store.
The gardener will want to watch these closely, however, because these guys will germinate, grow, and be ready to harvest in a short time, often as quickly as three weeks. But that’s another great advantage. Plant as many as you like without worrying about garden space. Radishes are harvested so soon after they’re planted, they will be out of the way before it’s time to work with the warm weather plants.
3. Lettuce. Leaf lettuce is a wonderful cool weather garden crop that can be seed-planted in March. The garden shop will probably have several varieties to select from, but Black-seeded Simpson is probably the most popular. Lettuce won’t be ready as quickly as the radishes were, and may take around 45 days before the gardener can begin to rob the plants for a fresh salad. You may want to consider staggering the planting of the leaf lettuce rows by several days, so the entire crop doesn’t mature on the same weekend.
4. Spinach. Another garden crop that can be planted from seeds, spinach grows well in the cool weather. A fresh salad with a mixture of spinach leaves and some of that leaf lettuce from the next row can be a real treat when those early garden crops are ready to harvest. The garden store will likely have several varieties to choose from, but Olympia and Bloomsdale are two of the more popular types, and will be ready to eat in about 48 days.
5. Carrots. Gardeners may want to wait until the latter part of March for planting carrots, but direct seeding about three to four weeks before the last frost will provide a wonderful homegrown treat in about 80 days after planting.
6. Peas. The list of crops that can be planted directly into the garden in late winter or early spring should always include peas. Peas are tolerant of the occasional frost and extended periods of cooler weather that are typical for the season. Assuming that the seeds will reach maturity after about 60 days of growth, the gardener may wish to set out several sections of peas, a week or so apart, in order to have more than one harvest when the time comes.
7. Others. While the short menu of plants mentioned here are varieties that can be placed directly into the garden in March, a great many others can be started indoors under a grow light, and then set out when the danger of frost is nearly gone. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, and even some early-maturing tomatoes can be transplanted to the backyard garden bed when the weather is more favorable.
This is so true…
Regardless of where one lives, gardening can be a year-round project. Even in the colder months, planning and preparation for the busier season can keep the enthusiast occupied. For many, however, seeing something green pop out of the ground in those early months is the only absolute cure for garden fever. That is why a mini greenhouse investment in your front or backyard will definitely give you all possibilities without compromising losing any of your crops.
One of the best parts of gardening is being able to share what you know and grow with other gardeners or people you meet. Tips and tricks you have used in your own garden just might be the information another gardener needs to get their trouble plant flourishing, and a plant you noticed in a neighbors garden might be ready to divide and shared.
These are all good reasons to organize a plant swap among your friends or in your own neighborhood. At a plant swap you can share information on the plants that you have had success with or those plants that do not do well in the area with newbie gardeners. A swap takes place among gardeners who have divided up plants in their garden that have become to big for the space they are growing in or need to be transplanted.
The first thing you are going to need in order to have a successful plant swap are other gardeners to swap with. Talk to your gardening pals in the neighborhood, you know, the folks that you stop and talk to on walks through the neighborhood to admire their garden. Next, talk to the gardeners in your neighborhood that you haven’t yet met but noticed that they have some plants that need dividing. Finally, stop at your local public places to see about posting flyers for a plant swap, depending on the size of the swap you want to have.
When to Swap
Deciding when to host a plant swap is not hard, the growth of your plants and when they are ready to divide pretty much dictate the schedule. The best time of year to host plant swaps are going to be in the spring and again in the fall. Spring bloomers should be divided and swapped in the fall and summer bloomers divided and swapped in the spring.
What to Swap
Popular plants to swap include those that can always be used in the garden to create borders, fill shade and add color. Perennial favorites like Hostas, Purple Coneflowers, Asters, and Lilies are always wanted by gardeners. Other plants to include in the swap are any new varieties you have introduced to your own garden that have performed well.
Besides plants that you divide in your garden you can swap any leftover seedlings you grew for your own garden and seeds that you have collected. Make sure you include any information about planting and care that you have for all of the plants that you swap.
How to Swap
There are several ways to go about swapping your plants. You can swap using a lottery system or let members exchange among themselves. I prefer a lottery system because that way every member gets an equal chance at bringing home some of their favorites. Make sure that all gardeners involved are comfortable with whatever swap method is used before you begin.
Things to Remember
Remind all gardeners involved that the plants they bring to swap should be healthy and disease free, no one wants to introduce an unhealthy plant into their otherwise disease free garden. Include details about your plant to potential gardeners, like if you have used chemical fertilizers or if all gardening was done organically. And finally, have fun and take the time to glean as many tips and tricks from other gardeners to use in your own garden.
Growing a greener garden is part science, part art, and part chance. There isn’t much you can do about the element of chance – the weather might be ideal one year and disastrous the next. Then there are those people who just seem to have a knack for producing the prettiest blooms and heartiest plants. But even if you weren’t blessed with a proverbial green thumb, you can have a healthier garden if you understand some of the science behind growing things.
With all the interest in green, environmentally friendly methods, composting is a great way to utilize kitchen and lawn waste to produce the perfect soil additive without chemical fertilizers. Producing your own compost just makes sense because the ingredients are free and you’ll be making the most of materials that would otherwise go down your garbage disposal or worse, become part of the mountain of trash at a landfill.
There are several different styles of compost structures, from free-standing piles that can be manually turned over, to pre-fabricated rotating bins. The size of your compost pile will depend on the size of your yard and on the amount of waste material your lawn and kitchen produce. Compost piles should not exceed around six feet in height because if the pile is too high, decomposition will not occur at the deeper layers. Also, if a compost heap is too tall or massive, it will be difficult to turn over.
Turning over your compost is a method of mixing the layers which will be at different stages of decomposition. This is accomplished with a simple pitchfork or shovel. Pitchforks are the best tool for composting since they are not as heavy or cumbersome as shovels. Garden rakes are typically not durable enough for the job, since decomposing compost becomes quite weighty.
In order for decomposition to occur, your compost pile must include both green and brown material. Green matter refers to any fresh waste material such as green leaves, grass clippings, fresh wood chips, and vegetable, fruit or other organic scraps. Brown matter includes dead branches, dried wood chips, dried pine cones and needles, and even shredded paper scraps. A word of caution: do not add meat, fat or oil to your compost pile since this will attract vermin as well as create quite a stench!
If your compost pile includes this combination of materials and is at least a foot or more in depth, with time, the magic of decomposition will turn what would otherwise be trash into a rich soil additive. You can tell that decomposition is occurring by reaching your hand deep into the pile. If the center of the heap feels much hotter than the surface, that means the magic of decomposition has begun. In fact, the center of your compost heap should be nearly too hot to touch.
You might notice a variety of insects in and around your compost pile. Actually, at the hot center of the heap, instead of earthworms and beetles, tiny microorganisms will be doing the real work of breaking down material.
When your compost begins to resemble rich coffee grounds, it is ready to be used as a soil additive. Good compost can help turn overly alkaline soil into healthy balanced soil by adding a mildly acidic element. You can test the pH level of your soil with a simple tester device, with a slightly acidic to neutral pH of around 6 or 7 ideal. The crumbly texture of compost can turn clumpy, clay soils into workable garden dirt. Using compost also helps conserve water usage in the garden because mulch compost placed around plants holds water and inhibits evaporation. Even without rainfall, mulch will draw and hold moisture from the morning dew, releasing it throughout the day to thirsty plants.
If you have a garden, your plants are sure to reward your composting efforts with brighter blooms and tastier treats.
Hi, my name is Angela and I’m a proclaimed garden enthusiast. I do talks in our small community on all the things I learned and get to learn about gardening and beautifying my garden for years. It has been my passion ever since I discovered my ‘power’ to bring life to plants and even to those that are dying. I inherited this ‘green thumb’ from my granny who became the main reason why I fell in love with this craft.