Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lavender, Ground Cover and Rooting Plants

I had the chance a few weeks ago to visit our local nursery and buy another Goodwin Creek lavender and a sturdy ground cover plant. I had tried to root some from my two big main lavender plants and did not succeed. The ground cover is a medium green leafed plant that is very hardy with textured leaves and blooms with white bell-shaped flowers. The nursery has had a huge plant of this same ground cover planted in part of the nursery covering a wide area there. I'm excited to get this ground cover in place since there is one area of our front yard that keeps getting overrun by a particular weed. This ground cover is so thick I think it will help keep the weed from surviving in that area. The new Goodwin Creek lavender will be planted behind the ground cover next to the passionflower vine on the fence and the climbing roses. I think the lavender will do well since it has already grown a few inches in the few weeks since we bought it. Between company and a lot of June rain which is unusual here on the coast we haven't had the chance to clear the area in the front yard and plant these new plants. We are hoping this next weekend or the weekend after will be the time for these new plants to get planted.

I took some cutting from my thymifolia fuchsia in the backyard and put them in a glass of water on my patio table, I also took some cuttings from my two-toned pink fuchsia to create more plants. I have some of the two-toned pink fuchsias planted in in hanging baskets and out in the front and back yard, it is really a gorgeous plant. Generally fuchsias root fairly easily in water. I have a purple hebe that I took a cutting from and rooted it, creating another plant. I have to plant this new hebe out in the front yard also, it may end up with the lavender and ground cover, or it may end up across from the main purple hebe under the climbing roses as well. I have a rooted heather, one of the few I was able to root well enough to pot up, its ready to plant out anytime. I don't have the hang of rooting up heathers, I'll have to work on that some more in the future, there are plenty of heathers I'd love to take cuttings from so I can grow new heather plants.

The summer miniature pink dahlias are coming up in the pots on the patio table although the snails are munching on the young plant's leaves. A few sweet peas from last year have decided to sprout under the obelisk and are sending up two vines. I have a pot of sweet peas growing on the patio table, I plan to split half of the them and plant them under the obelisk and the other half are going to be planted with the metal trellis that holds the clematis near the front porch. The clematis has been doing really poorly after planting it in the ground and didn't bloom this spring. Its no problem for the sweet peas to be planted with the clematis and grow up the metal trellis, since the clematis isn't blooming it would be great to have some sweet peas blooming next to the porch for summer.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gardening Article: Get Your Daily Fiber Naturally by Growing Organic Broccoli

Growing vegetables may seem like an impossible task, but many people who make the effort to grow their own produce find that the process demands management not garden magic.

Broccoli provides key nutrients to the body and even has anti-cancer properties, but its most tangible health benefit is its high-fiber content.

Fiber is valuable in helping improve your digestive system and making you feel fuller faster. Fiber can even be useful in lowering cholesterol. While any vegetable is better than no vegetable at all, organic broccoli is particularly important as a staple in your diet because it lacks the dangerous chemicals and compounds that can get into your body through non-organic produce.

Those chemicals are designed to improve vegetables as an overall product by preventing fungus, pests and other maladies that can ruin produce. Luckily, there are organic measures that can be taken to encourage high-quality broccoli heads without sacrificing the health and safety of this vegetable. You should also store your gardening tools in sheds or other safe places to keep them from getting damaged or contaminated in ways that could taint or otherwise hurt your broccoli crop.

Follow these quick steps to create your own organic broccoli patch:

Use Seed Trays

When broccoli seeds – which are very small and round – are planted directly in the soil, it is easy for gardeners to lose track of where they planted. Furthermore, seeds also become more susceptible to bugs. One solution to these problems is placing the seeds about one-inch deep in seed trays. In these trays, the seeds can begin to grow without being consumed and lost to insects and small animals. Space the seeds three inches apart and water daily. Continue to grow the seeds for four to six weeks, at which time the broccoli seedlings will have grown enough to be transplanted from the seed tray into the garden.

Providing Requisite Sun Exposure

When young broccoli plants are transplanted into your garden, location matters. Broccoli needs at least four hours of sun exposure every day for the most beneficial growth. This four-hour requirement applies throughout the entire calendar year, so in most cases, it is wise to place broccoli in a wide-open area where there will be minimal interruptions of daily sunlight.

The plants should be set into the soil about 18 inches to two feet apart to prevent their roots from infringing upon one another's territory. In nutrient-rich soil – which is more likely the case if you frequently compost and keep chemicals out of your garden – you shouldn't have to worry about natural fertilizer to bolster the health and prospects of your broccoli heads.

Keeping Out Pests

Rabbits and other small animals are the biggest threats to a healthy broccoli crop. Mesh garden fencing should be placed around the garden to keep furry critters out of your fresh vegetables. If deer are a concern in your area, you may need to put up three-foot tall fencing. Always make sure there are no spaces at the base of the fencing for animals to squeeze underneath. You might also consider installing certain plants known to repel certain kinds of animals – this is most effective when you know you are dealing with one or two types of intruders.

By taking a few simple preventative measures, you can drastically reduce the risk of your broccoli becoming afflicted with fungus, disease or pest plagues that ruin plants. Over time, you will hopefully come to realize that raising healthy produce organically is easy and effective. Not only does this lead to a more satisfying gardening experience, but it also improves your health and your family’s.

Image courtesy of www.stockphotosforfree.com

Author bio: Kristine digs all things organic. When she isn’t trying to figure out how to make her whole life organic, she is blogging on the behalf of Sears and their other quality products.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Seeds and Vines: Bird of Paradise, Blue Poppies, and Passionflower

I was thinking of gardening goodies when I won a $200 gift card for adding content to one of my blogs. Some of the items I ordered were 4 passionflower vines (two blue and white flowered and two pink flowered vines) and two packs of seeds: blue Himalayan poppies and Bird of Paradise. I read up on the instructions they gave and both sets of seeds like to stay in the fridge for 2 to 4 weeks before planting. The Bird of Paradise seeds can also be soaked and filed (like sweet peas) to help them grow. I took half of the Bird of Paradise seeds and the pack of blue poppies and put them in the fridge, then soaked the other half of the Bird of Paradise seeds to see which set of seeds will do better. My father had a Bird of Paradise plant growing in the front yard along with his bed of bearded purple Iris. I remember the Bird of Paradise plant blooming, it was really beautiful. From what I've read growing Bird of Paradise from seed can take 3 to 5 years before they bloom. I planted the first set of seeds a few weeks ago, along with some sweet peas for my back yard obelisk. The filing on the sweet peas worked perfectly and the seeds starting sprouting within a week or two with strong little sweet pea stems. So far no sign of my Bird of Paradise seeds coming up, I have to be patient. I will be planting up the blue poppies sometime in June, probably planting some poppy seeds directly in the ground and a few in a pot to see which works best. The blue poppies are supposed to be fussy about warm temps but that won't be a problem here since we rarely get up to 70 degrees here even in summer. I have a feeling the Bird of Paradise won't be so easy to grow either.

We dug out the two front trellis boxes to make way for the new passionflower vines. It took two weekends, we knew it would either be easy or horrible to dig up what was in the boxes and, as we thought, it was horrible. The boxes had so many roots it was a mess, no doubt the trellis boxes had never been changed or cleaned out in at least ten years. We cleaned the trellis boxes out the best we could, filled up the bottom of the big boxes with some large rocks and then refilled the boxes with new dirt and planted two passionflower vines in each one. The pink flowered passionflower vine grows 8 feet tall, that one is placed out front of the boxes; the second vine is a blue and white (closer to purple color) flower and grows up to 25 feet, it is placed in the back, if nothing else this plant will fill out the trellis. Even though the vines are less than a foot tall one of the blue and white flowered vines already has a flower opened on it, very pretty. It has been a month and the vines so far are growing very slowly. Once the passionflower vines take hold I hope the vines grow rapidly, the same as the other passionflower vines in our yard. Bird of Paradise image courtesy of stockphotosforfree.com.

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