Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gardening Article: Pros and Cons of Raised Bed Gardening

There’s no better way for a gardener to deal with poor soil conditions than to plant a raised bed garden. If you aren’t gardening on rocky or hard soil, you may be wondering if a raised bed garden would be ideal for you. The answer is complicated. There are both pros and cons to raised bed gardening. Let’s explore them.

• Raised beds start getting warm earlier in the spring, which means you can start planting earlier in the year.
• The soil in raised beds is less likely to get compacted.
• If you know you’ll be planting certain types of plants in your raised bed garden, you can easily lay down the ideal kind of soil for those plants.
• You have the option to put wire mesh down on the bottom of your raised bed garden. This will help keep away certain pests.
• If you have back problems, raised bed gardening can be easier on your back, since you don’t have to lean down as much to reach the garden. In fact, you can make a raised bed garden as tall as you like to meet your physical needs.

• You have less space to work with if you’re gardening in a raised bed. This means you have to be careful with how you space out your plants. If there isn’t enough room for all of the plants in the bed, the growth of the plants can be stunted.
• The cost to install a raised bed garden can be pretty high, when you consider how relatively inexpensive gardening usually is.
• If the soil on your property is good for planting, there’s really not much of a need for raised bed gardening.

Raised bed gardens are usually considered an attractive asset to a home, and many plants can thrive in them. However, if you have good soil to begin with, you might want to consider saving some money and skipping the raised bed garden.

About the Author: Lisa is a guest content creator who enjoys writing about interior design, landscaping, gardening and trends in the Boston storage industry.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gardening Article: Gardening Tools For Everyday Gardening

Article Copyright North Coast Gardening Blog

Gardening is an activity that uses physical abilities as well as design abilities to create a garden. Some tools will be used all year long while different tools may be needed during certain seasons of the year. Gardening requires sturdy tools to use in order to achieve a healthy garden. Gardeners must use a wide variety of tools to maintain the health of a garden. This list provides you with the most important and common gardening tools you will need for your garden.


Basics Gardening Items

• Garden tools basket or apron
Carry your tools where you go in the garden

• Garden hoses
Use to water your garden or set up soaker hoses at the base of your plants

• Knee cushion
Provides support to knees when kneeling to plant

• Watering can
Hand held handle style carrying container to water plants

• Watering wand
Long poled wand attachment to hoses to water your garden

• Planting soil
Soil used to add to the garden when planting or transplanting plants

• Garden mulch
Addition of top layer mulch made of bark, recycled paper, cocoa shells, sea shells or stone to cool the surface below the plant, deter weeds growing, and keep moisture at roots of the plant intact

• Plant markers
Add plant markers in front of plants to identify the type of plant in your garden

• Plant supports
Use metal and wood supports to hold up tall plants in garden beds

• Wheelbarrow
Cart potting soil, mulch bricks, and other building items to areas of the garden

Garden Hand Digging Tools

• Gardening gloves planting
Lighter weight gloves used to dig and plant plants

• Gardening gloves pruning
Heavy duty gloves of thicker material used when pruning sharp or tough plant, shrub or tree material

• Garden trowels
Hand held shovels in varying sizes used to dig into small areas of dirt to plant or transplant plants or dig up weeds

• Bulb planter or dibble
Used to dig into the dirt to plant bulbs, bulb planter cuts rounded area of dirt, dibble is pointy in shape for smaller bulbs or seeds

Garden Pruning Tools

• Hand pruner
Small hand held pruner to prune plants

• Loppers
Long armed pruner to prune plants

• Pole trimmer
Long armed pruner used to prune tall trees and vines

Garden Digging Tools

• Garden fork
Long handled pronged fork used for loosing soil and to dig up weeds

• Square-nosed shovel
Square shaped edge shovel used for lifting or transferring materials

• Round-nosed shovel
Round shaped edge shovel used to dig up areas of dirt to plant or transplant plants or dig up weeds

• Pitchfork
Used to lift and loosen soil, leaves, manure, and other materials

• Hand-held hoe
Use for pulling up weeds from the garden and loosening soil

• Long-handled hoe
Long handle version use for pulling up weeds from the garden and loosening soil

Carry your tools in a portable gardening basket or gardening apron
Clean your gardening tools with water, oil tools if needed and dry them with a towel after every use
Store your tools in a locked dry area such as a storage shed or garage

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gardening Article: Growing Onions In The Garden

Onions are one of the first vegetables to be planted in the spring. Onion sprigs start showing up at feed stores and garden centers as soon as the soil is warm enough to work. Growing onions isn’t rocket science, but there are a few things you need to consider in order to grow the best onions possible.

Onions fall into three main groups depending on the amount of daylight they receive each day. Long day onions grow best in the North, where the summer day is long and they get 14-16 hours of sun. Short day onions grow best in the South, where shorter days mean only 11-12 hours of sunlight. Medium day onions grow best in the middle of the country, with 12-13 hours of sunlight a day. If you plant the wrong type of onion for your area, you won’t get a very good crop. Fortunately, most places that sell onion sprigs sell the correct ones for the area.

Since onions are the roots of the plant, it is important to have good, loose soil for them to grow in. Ideally, you would till the soil to a depth of six inches and work in three inches of compost. The compost both adds nutrients to the soil and breaks it up, allowing air and more room for the root hairs to grow. The more root hairs, the more nutrients can make their way into the plant.

Not everyone can prepare their vegetable bed this way, however. Dig up or till the soil as deeply as you can. Spread two to three pounds of a balanced fertilizer per 100 feet of row over the soil, then rake it in.
To plant your onion sprigs, dig a trench right down the middle of the row. It needs to be about two inches deep and very narrow. Lay the onion sprigs in the trench with the root side down. Space them about an inch apart. Carefully fill in the trench, firming the soil just enough to make the sprigs stand upright. Don’t compact the soil too much, or all your tilling will be wasted.

Onions should be watered slowly and deeply to promote the growth of the roots. An inch of water delivered all at once weekly or twice a week does this. Drip irrigation is ideal, but a soaker hose will work. Onions that do not get enough water not only fail to grow well, but taste very strong and are not very good to eat.
Onions should be fertilized with a half cup of fertilizer side dressed along each ten feet of row. This should be done when the onions have five or six leaves. Be sure to water the fertilizer in so the onions can use it.
As the onions grow, they will need to be thinned. Start by picking every other one when they begin to crowd each other. The small onions you pick are very good on salads. Each time the onions in your row get big enough to start crowding one another, pick every other one to thin. The entire onion crop should be harvested when they are 3 inches or so across. Any bigger and they get too strong tasting.

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Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. is a master gardener, member of the Garden Writer’s Association, photographer, and woodworker. She writes on almost any nonfiction topic and has had some unusual experiences that contribute to that ability. Getting pooped on by a rattlesnake probably ranks tops there.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gardening Article: Making Your Lawn And Garden Sale Ready

You only have one chance to make a first impression. This is true for buildings as well. Curb appeal is extremely important. If you have a property for sale, think of interactions with potential buyers as interviews with your property. The building needs to have a good resume (history of additions, repairs, damage, etc.), a solid cover letter (staged so that buyers can see themselves in it) and a confident, effective first impression. The curb appeal of your building is the interview equivalent of a nice suit and firm handshake. Curb appeal starts with your lawn. Follow these tips to make your lawn and garden sale ready.

1) Mow and edge your lawn regularly. If you can't keep up with your grass then hire a lawn service. Potential buyers will be driving by at all times; don't let the lawn get out of control.

2) Clean-up all leaves and yard debris. Grass clippings, fruit and trash all need to go.

3) Trim the trees and shrubs of your property. This doesn't need to be done nearly as often as lawn mowing. Don't think that you need to carve everything into tight cookie cutter space—you can let your plants look natural, but they should also appear tame.

4) Plant Flowers. There are plants appropriate for every time of the year. Having seasonal flowers shows you keep up with lawn maintenance. Window boxes also add a "homey" touch that instantly makes visitors think they're in a good neighborhood with "nice" families and good businesses.

5) Eliminate weeds and signs of weed growth from your lawn.

6) Clean sideways and pathways. This is especially true in the winter. Do NOT let your property get an icy walkway. If someone has trouble accessing the property then they will instantly have a bad impression of your home or business.

7) Clean your gutters and eaves. The building should look like it has been given meticulous care for years. Don't let overflowing gutters get in the way of a sale.

8) Make sure the paint on the exterior is fresh. Chipped, dingy or peeling paint makes a building look shabby. Consider completely repainting trim or railings. A fresh coat of paint makes a great impression.

9) A wise buyer should be thinking about the property year-round. If it's spring then have a picture of your building in the winter, summer and fall. Show them its appeal holds up.

10) Dress your garden like you would the inside of a home or business. Add patio furniture or picnic tables. Buyers should be able to envision themselves enjoying your property.

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About the author: Kristine spends her winters escaping the cold to bake and craft. Not alone in her hibernation, Kristine has a dachshund puppy that makes excellent company.

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