Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gardening Article: 10 Great Gifts for Gardeners

This year, the groundhog did not see his shadow, predicting an early spring. As gardeners in your life are itching to start their spring cleanup by pruning, planting and sowing seeds, surprise them with a gift that's sure to please. These gifts run the gamut in terms of cost, so there's bound to be something for everyone on your wish list. Consider these 10 gift ideas.

1. Gathering basket: Gathering baskets are perfect for safeguarding those fresh-cut flowers or just-harvested veggies. Gift an elegant, stylish modern or vintage gardening basket -- something your gardener may not already have and will almost certainly love.

2. Trimmers: Gardeners may have lawns with ragged edges because they don't want to mow too close to the garden bed. Enter trimmers, which allow gardeners to get up close to the garden bed without harming flowers. An electric or battery-powered trimmer should suffice for most home gardeners.

3. Garden signs: Plant tags are a practical necessity for seed-sown gardens. Look at craft fairs, upscale garden shops or online boutiques like Etsy to find unique plant tags that are works of art themselves.

4. Birdhouses: Give the gift of bird song by gifting a birdhouse or bird feeder. There are many attractive styles and shapes to choose from. If your gardener already has the basics, consider gifting a hummingbird feeder and nectar, or a handmade wooden birdhouse.

5. Gardening book: From fancy coffee table books to sturdy how-to manuals, gardening books run the gamut. Skip the basic books and choose a title that covers something practical and useful, such as square foot gardening, shade gardening or organic garden management.

6. Garden clogs: If your gardener's crocs are wearing out, upgrade to a new pair of gardening clogs or work shoes. The right pair of gardening should be waterproof, flexible and sturdy. If you plan to give shoes, know the right shoe size or get a gift receipt.

7. Gardening gloves: Gardening gloves receive a lot of wear and tear, since gardeners wear them for all tasks. Surprise your favorite gardener with a new pair of gloves. Look for gloves that are water resistant and offer padding on the fingers and palms. This prevents blisters that arise from holding equipment or tools. Tip: Choose machine washable gloves to score a home run with this gift.

8. Bulbs: What better what to signify that spring in on the way than with gift-wrapped bulbs. Classic spring bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, are planted in the autumn months. Think ahead to summer with beautiful bulbs such as dahlia, calla lily, oriental lily or elephant ear.

9. Pocket pruners: Pruners rust when left in the rain and lose their sharp edge with repeated use. Consider getting existing pruners sharpened or replacing them with a new pair of pocket pruners. Gardeners reach for these to trim shrubs, cut flowers for the home and prune suckers off tomato plants.

10. Watering can: Watering cans wear down over time, as metal ones lose shape or develop a drip. While this seems like a simple gift, what gardener wouldn't enjoy a watering can that saves on labor of lugging buckets of water back and forth from the home to the deck? One to try includes the U Can watering can, which stores fertilizer and even reminds gardeners when it's time to fertilize plants again.

Find these gardening gifts and so many more at your favorite garden store. You just may find a new plant or gardening supply item for yourself while browsing, too.

Image courtesy of Etsy.com.

About the author: Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area and she writes on behalf of Sears and other deserving brands. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master's degree.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gardening Article: Bird Feeding 101

Attracting wild birds to your garden is as easy as choosing a bird feeder and filling it with birdseed. However, the type of bird seed you choose, and the design of feeder will determine the species of bird you attract to you garden.

Choosing your bird seed

Bird Seed Mixtures usually contain maize, sunflower seeds and crushed peanuts. If you wish to attract the greatest variety of birds then a good quality seed mix will be a great choice, however you need to be careful when buying seed mixtures as lower quality mixtures will contain a lot of cheaper fillers to bulk the mixtures, such as dried rice, and beans. Larger chunked foods such as beans and barley grains can only be consumed by larger beaked birds such as blackbirds and pigeons. Smaller birds such as house sparrows, finches and tits will prefer smaller mouthfuls such as sunflower seeds, crushed nuts and pinhead oatmeal.

"Black" Sunflower Seed is popular with a variety of seed eating birds. Bird seeds are surrounded by a protective shell which will sometimes be too tough for smaller birds to penetrate. However in the case of Black Sunflower Seeds the shells are very thin and can be penetrated by the smallest of birds such as tits and robins. The other added benefit is that it contains a high fat content. We advise that you provide a fatty foods during the winter months as many birds will rely on their fat stores to survive when food is more scarce.

Peanuts also contain a high fat content making it a perfect winter food. Peanut feed will usually come as ‘whole nuts’ or ‘crushed’. Only larger beaked birds such as blackbirds, starling or pigeons will be able to consume whole nuts. Although robins are smaller beaked birds they are very fond of peanuts. If you wish to attract smaller birds to your garden, then choose a "crushed peanut".

The Nyjer Seed is a very important source of food for goldfinches, bullfinches and chaffinches but will also attract robins and siskins. Nyjer can be purchased cheaply but requires a special type of bird feeder to administer as the seed is quite fine.

Choosing the best feeder

Many garden birding hobbyists will keep multiple feeders to attract a variety of birds. The problem with having a single feeding station is that larger birds such as blackbirds can dominate the feeding area, preventing smaller birds from accessing.

Nyjer Seed Feeder are designed with smaller feeding holes, therefore only smaller species of birds such as finches and siskins can access the feeders. We suggest if you keep multiple feeders, then keep them at least 3 meters apart so that more timid birds are not scared away by larger species.

Tube feeders are the most common bird feeder design. Most hobbyist will fill these with a seed mixture to attract the most amount of birds.

The problem with traditional tube feeders is that they can only hold a single type of feed. Triple Tube bird feeders can hold three different types of feed and provide a better option if you hope to attract a variety of birds.

Window feeder can be attached to window panes via a sticky suction plunger. Many city birders keep window feeders as an attractive window feature and a way to closely inspect wild birds without the risk of scaring them away.

Image courtesy of www.wildbirdfeeders.co.uk.

About the author: Written by Lynne Dickson, Marketing Manager at Wild Bird Feeders. Wild Bird Feeders is the global leader in Bird Seed Feeders and wild bird feeding. We have an extensive range of products, from Peanut Bird Feeders to triple tube feeders. For more information all about birds, please visit www.wildbirdfeeders.co.uk.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Garden Plant Care Tips During Frost And Freeze Weather

Republished from my blog gardeningbytes.com.

Water your container plants when temps are expected to dip below freezing the next morning, the water keeps the plant roots from going below 32 degrees. When water freezes, it releases heat, acting as an insulator to plant root systems during cold weather. In-ground plants need mulching during winter to help protect them against frost. Plants that are budding ready to bloom have a bigger chance of dropping buds when spring is near and heavy frosts occur. To protect fragile plants use an old sheet or commercial frost cover. Do not use plastic only as a protective cover since plastic heats up considerably when the sun hits it and can burn plants. Plastic can be used over a piece of cloth for added warmth for plants. Remove cloth and plastic first thing in the morning to keep condensation from forming and damaging the plant the next night during a freeze. Use burlap to surround your plants. Create an insulation barrier around your plants to protect them from freezes. Place wooden stakes around the perimeter of your plant then wrap burlap around the outside of the stakes. Use leaves or hay inside the area of the burlap next to the plant to help insulate them. Remove the wrap and insulation the next morning so the plants receive needed sunlight. Bring in container plants that are outdoors when frost is imminent, or move container plants into a greenhouse when available to protect plants. Use use quick hoops to cover vegetables in your garden during freezing weather. Hoops are a tunnel shaped device with a cover that can act as a greenhouse to cover your vegetable crop. Plant low lying, dense ground cover surrounding the base of tender shrubs, the ground cover acts as mulch during colder weather.

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