Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gardening Article: High Altitude Gardening Tips

Homes across the States are made more beautiful and serene with gardens. Gardening not only enhances the look of a home; but also gives homeowners a nice hobby to engage in. However, not all gardens are created equal. Each area has unique needs. For instance, homes in Colorado call for different preparation and may not be able to host the same plants as a home on the California Coast. Homes located in high altitude areas may require a bit of studying and preparation in order to produce the lush foliage the gardener is looking for.

A garden in high elevation makes it primed for intense sunlight, low humidity and extreme weather changes. If you live in an area where these conditions are present, don't throw in the towel just yet! Read on to discover some ways to begin and maintain your own garden, even with the unique climate found in high altitude settings.

First and foremost, it is important to understand where your main gardening challenges come from. Many people assume that the temperatures high altitude regions experience in the winter months causes the most problems. But in actuality, the main challenges come from combinations of low humidity, drying winds and physical properties of the soil. There isn't much a gardener can do to change the humidity and winds found in their area, so that leaves you to work with the soil on your property.

The soil present in Colorado, for instance, is heavy clay in most areas, which results in poor aeration that limits root growth, and also limits the plants ability to replenish water loss due to those dry winds. While you might jump to the conclusion that you simply need to water your plants more, this would cause further problems. The thickness of the clay soil mixed with extra amounts of water cuts off oxygen supply to the roots of plants.

One of the best ways to get the garden you really want is to amend the soil before you begin planting. Amending the soil beforehand is far more productive than simply adding fertilizer to the soil already in place. Organic amendments such as compost, peat and manure will breathe life into a new garden. If you plan to grow grass and other perennials, you can amend the soil just once before you set out to grow. For vegetable gardens, you have the opportunity to amend the soil each year.

Amending the soil is very easy. Just mix organic material into the top four to six inches of soil, and also add a two inch layer of organic material over the surface of the soil. Once this is done, you're ready to grow those roses, carrots or other healthy vegetation!

Image courtesy of http://gardenfaerie.blogspot.com.

About the author: Laura W. Jansen is an avid writer who covers many topics related to outdoor living. Gardening, home decorating and outdoor recreation are covered extensively for Boulder CO Real Estate.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Growing Your Garden With Seed Swaps

lilacIf you have a tight garden budget and can't always buy what you want, seed swapping is a great way to expand your plants on the cheap. There are a number of gardening forums that allow seed swaps, generally its as easy as a private message, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE), and you swap seeds for your new seeds. Saving seed from your garden is not only a way to propagate your own plants but trade on what you have, all for the cost of a few stamps.

I ventured into the seed swap section of a gardening forum I visit often and was not only surprised at the ease of the set-up for seed swapping, but that there were a number of gardeners who will give excess seeds and yes, even bulbs, away for free as long as you send a SASE or pay for shipping costs. In my case there were lilac seeds coming available for free in both purple and white. I love everything about lilacs. We had three purple lilacs in Petaluma but there is only one small lilac here at our Eureka home. I've never had a white lilac and thought it would be dandy to grow my own from seed. I let the gardener know I'd be thrilled to receive any color lilac seeds he had available.

I also learned about some Italian Arum bulbs being given away by another gardener, which means paying postage for the package. I haven't heard back yet and it was a few weeks old post so I'm hoping there are still some available. I had a few Italian Arum bulbs in my garden in Petaluma, always loved the leaves and the red berries afterwards. I tried digging up the arum and a Jack-in-the-Pulpit that had beautiful leaves and a dark reddish/brown sphere that came up from the leaves in early spring, unfortunately I could not dig deep enough to get to the bulbs. Very disappointing, especially concerning the Jack-in-the-Pulpit bulb, which would be costly to replace.

I am hoping there are some Italian Arum bulbs still available since it sounded like there were loads of them to give away a few weeks ago. I have a huge amount of Orange Montbretia/Crocosmia bulbs in my garden that were here before I moved in, they are mostly unwanted, although a section in the front yard looks nice every summer. I had the same problem with these bulbs in Petaluma, they spread rapidly and tend to take over the yard. I'm sure some gardeners love them but I find them problematic. Perhaps I can offer some of these bulbs to other gardeners at the forums. I plan on checking into the gardening forum more often to see if there are freebie seeds and bulbs available, and will start saving some seed from my garden for future seed swaps.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gardening Article: 4 Great Gardening Tips

Do you find yourself working all spring trying to keep your garden alive just to have it wither away and die? Are you jealous of the large greenhouse nurseries and find yourself wondering how they do it, how they keep thousands of plants alive while you struggle with a few dozen? Here are several garden survival tips that are sure to make your gardening experience much more enjoyable.

1.Pick the right place for your garden. This is a very important step that most people overlook. You MUST make sure that your garden has protection from strong winds. The wind is brutal and can destroy your garden and waste all that hard work you put into it. Also, you want to pick a garden site that has great sun exposure; remember, the sun is plant food! With this criteria in mind try to place the garden as close to your house as you can. You do not want to make it a task just getting to your garden; gardening should be fun!

2.Research the plants! The last thing you want to do is buy a bunch of plants that die within a few days because they are not suitable for your area. Read the plant stakes and labels as well as do some research on the internet and talk to gardening experts in your area. Make sure that the plants can survive in your environment (climate, soil, etc.).

3.Prepare your garden. Doing some hard work in the beginning will make your gardening experience more enjoyable. To prepare your garden be sure to remove all the debris from the top of the soil first. For good results your soil needs to have a balanced mixture of sand, silt, clay and organic material. Most likely you will need to add one or two of these items to your soil, but most likely you do not know which you need. A garden soil test can tell you what your soil is missing. To get your soil tested you need to purchase a soil-testing kit. If you do not know how to get a soil test you can call your Cooperative Extension Service for more information. Once you get your kit, follow the directions precisely so your results will be correct. After you get your results and have studied them, only add the necessary nutrients as too much can cause diseases in your plants.

4.Water your plants! A plant is composed of about 90% of water so obviously you must remember to do this step consistently. However, overwatering can cause the plant roots to rot. The best time to water plants is in the morning or evening when the sun is not as hot and the wind is calmer. An inch of water a week is a general rule for watering plants, but there are many exceptions. The weather, age, and type of the plants are all factors in this so again I stress, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Know what type of plant you have and how much water it needs. Then pay attention to the weather. If the air is extra dry and hot, your plants most likely need extra water.

By following these four tips you will definitely have a more enjoyable gardening experience this year. Happy Gardening!

Image courtesy of http://www.vegetable-garden-planting.com.

About the author: Adam Conner is a Print and Marketing Expert. Make your garden a success by checking out My1Stop.com's nursery supplies for your plant stakes, strip tags, and labels.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Watering And Pruning Time

When June hits here on the North Coast generally its time to start watering. Rain is so abundant until June there is no need to water weekly, but the rains stop or turn to a few showers in June and watering become essential to the garden. The container plants come first, hanging fuchsia baskets and pots with plants need a good weekly watering. There is enough fog mist and cool weather (temps run in the low to mid 60's and here and there 70 degrees during summer) that there is little evaporation. Typically baskets and pots need more than a weekly water in hot weather but here it works fine once a week. I water the plants that do not get much water from the automated watering system which hits some flower beds and most of the lawn areas in the front and back yards.

Since I have a number of new heaths and heathers every October from my plant purchases at the heather farm I need to be sure these new heaths and heathers are watered well weekly. Heaths and heathers have delicate roots that need a weekly watering during the first year they are planted in the ground, after a year's time they are drought tolerant. The first year of watering for new heaths and heathers is vitally important. Heaths and heathers also need well draining soil, they do not like to sit in water so good drainage is also essential for successful heath and heather growth.

The other task that began in June is my weekly to bi-weekly trim of the climbing pink roses. I trimmed up the one to two feet tall spurts of growth that come up from the plants to keep the shape of the roses well trimmed. I've learned that these new growths do well when I trim them down as far as they can go to the main branch of the roses, keeping my trimming at every two weeks if successfully done. If only the climbing roses bloomed as much as most rose bushes do, but unfortunately they bloom for about a month's time and then the blooms are gone.

The lawns were mowed and now are in better shape for mowing a few times a month during summer. The hedge trimming is up next, having missed its fall trimming the front yard hedges are sorely in need of some shaping and trimming to make the front yard look better.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Late Planting Of Summer Bulbs

I finally found the time to finish planting all but one box of my summer bulbs. Its been busy these past few weekends and difficult to find the time or energy for bulb planting but now they are all mostly in the ground ready to grow.

The two small pink dahlias were placed in two flimsy one gallon containers, no chance to buy green plastic pots yet but I'm sure I can easily move them from one pot to the other with little disturbance. The small dahlias already had part of the plant growing up from the tuber, and is sticking out slightly above the dirt in the pots. I am looking forward to seeing these dwarf style dahlias with their brilliant pink flowers with yellow markings bloom this summer.

Next I planted a mix of ten purple and white anenome tubers in a pot with my hosta. The hosta never gets too big, and its replanting in a new pot meant I could move it forward towards the front edge, leaving room in the back for my two Amaryllis bulbs and the addition of the anenomes. The hosta is leafing out and has produced a flower, which it did not do the first year in a pot, no doubt this is an improvement on the health of the hosta overall. Add the anenomes with the hosta seemed like the best place for now for the anenomes, I'm hoping the container will look pretty with the pot so full of blooming plants. I have some small purple anenomes in my heather barrel that look great blooming in spring against the heathers every year, and have grown the full sized anenomes in my garden in Petaluma. The larger anenomes tend to grow back smaller the second year after planting, but are still very pretty when blooming.

The two Siberian iris tubers I had looked quite a bit different from dutch iris tubers and bearded iris tubers, both of which I have grown in my garden. The two purple Siberian iris tubers did not look like they were in good shape and appeared a little dried out. I planted them anyway to see if they would bounce back with a good watering. I planted the Siberian iris on either side of the back porch planters.

I planted some orange and yellow nasturtiums surrounding the obelisk in the back yard, and planted a few more seeds under the green arbor near my chair where a few nasturtiums are already growing. The final bulbs I planted went into my back yard long border, two dahlias (one red with white markings and one in purple), and a purple daylily. I've not grown dahlias before this year, I tried previously in the front yard and the dahlias did not come up. I am hoping any one of the various dahlias I have planted do well in the back yard and in the pots I planted them in. I would guess the dwarf dahlias have the best chance with the vigorous stem growing up from them before I planted them. I really hope the yellow dahlias I planted within the last month come up next to the obelisk, they will look wonderful with the orange and yellow nasturtiums I planted on the raised border there.

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