Author Archives: blue

Herb Gardening

Herbs have been around since time immemorial and served different kinds of purposes. They have been used to treat illness and flavour cooking; they were even believed to have magical powers. Do you want to have your own herb garden? Here are a few ideas on how to establish an herb garden.

Plan your garden.

Consider the herbs you want to plant. Think about their types. Would you like annuals, biennials or perennials?

How much space will they occupy in your garden? If you want, you can purchase a book that can give you the right information on what specific plants you are planning to grow.

List or draw your garden on paper first. Separate the annuals from the perennials so when the time comes that you have to pull out the annuals, you won’t be disturbing the perennials. Perennials can be planted on the edge of your garden so when it is time to till your garden they won’t be in danger of getting dug up.

Another thing to remember is that you have to plant the tall ones at the back and the shorter ones in front. Also, provide your plants with enough space to grow. Proper position shall help you in this area.

If you would rather keep herbs out of your garden (and some are quite invasive) you could have herb pots. These are large containers with three or more outlets for the herbs. Fill the pot up to the first outlet and plant it before continuing on with the filling and planting process. Usually, the herb that requires the most water is planted in the bottom hole, while the variety that requires the least, goes in the highest hole.

Some Design Ideas

You can consider having a square herb bed. You can have your square bed divided into four by two paths crossing at mid point measuring 3 feet. You can border it with stone or brick. A wooden ladder may also do the trick. You can lay it down on your garden and plant your herbs between its rungs. You can also choose to have a wagon wheel bed. Planting here is like planting with the wooden ladders. Plant your herbs in between the wagon wheel’s wedges.

Get Your Plants Growing

Of course, different plants have different needs, but many of them require alkaline soil. This is the reason why you have to determine the herbs you want to plant in the planning stage. This can more or less help you find out how you should care for your plants. If you germinate your herbs from seeds, remember to follow the directions on the packet for soil, watering and temperature.

Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow. You just have to provide them with an effective drainage, sunlight, enough humidity or moisture and fertile soil. Even with just minimally meeting these requirements they will be bound produce a good harvest.

promote your gardening website

Are you thinking of promoting your gardening website online? This could actually pose a little bit of a problem to you. Let’s face it. On the Internet, searching for gardening websites could yield hundreds, or even thousands of results in just one click. Therefore, the possibility of people visiting your website is one in a thousand. Here are six techniques on how to promote your gardening website.

1. Free directories

One very effective tip on how to promote your gardening website is to get listed on free directories online. Visit www.dmoz.com. There are a couple of websites that copy their directory. If you have your site listed, you can get yourself linked on to a lot more websites online.

2. Competitor’s popularity

You always need to check your competitor’s popularity. You need to know where you stand in the market. Having a new gardening website does not have to mean lower online visits or hits than other gardening websites around. It is just a matter of knowing your competitors by simply searching them out on Google. Also try checking www.linkpopularity.com. This website can help you determine how popular your website is compared to others. Aside from that, it can also help you get hooked up on many different sites you can find.

3. Quality and Reliable Links

One-tenth of your visitors may have possibly found your gardening website through the use of a search engine. The key here is to find quality links that will point to your website. Choose quality websites with a great number of customers. You could ace your gardening website promotion in no time at all. Related gardening websites will help you rank well in search engines for the reason that you have a targeted audience.

4. Competitors Visitors

Obviously, this is a very big factor in promoting your gardening website. In www.alexa.com, you may see a lot of information regarding your competitors’ websites, specifically their visitors and where they live, how many times they visit and the other gardening websites they go to.

5. Signature

Why not get your own signature for your email? Most people often ignore this idea. But if users come across your signature file, it could boost your “visit” or “hit probability”. It can also show users that you are a website owner who is serious in publishing your site.

Strategy is the key in promoting your gardening website. Do not be content on being just one of those gardening websites scattered around. You can always strive to be one of the most visited sites on the Internet.

easy tips on how to care for your plants

Many people worry a lot when it comes to caring for their plants. When talking about house plants, there is no need to worry. There are just a few things you need to consider.

1. Watering
Overwatering kills most houseplants. Looks can be deceptive, so to see if your soil is dry enough to water, try the finger test. Insert your index finger up to the first joint into the soil. If the soil is damp, don’t water it.

2. Feeding
Foliage plants usually have high nitrogen needs, while flowering plants, K2O is needed. Slow release fertilizers can be mixed with the compost. However, certain plants like cacti and orchids need special fertilizer. Feed plants during their most active growth period.

3. Lighting
Plants like Sanseveria and Aspidistra require no sun. They can be placed away from a window. Spider plants need semi-shade. You can put plants like these near a window that does or does not get sunlight. Check the label to see what your plant needs.

4. Temperature
Houseplants can survive in cool or warm temperatures, but drastic fluctuations of temperature may not be good for them. One thing that most plants cannot survive is gas heating. If you have a plant that likes warm conditions, don’t put it near an air conditioner in the summer.

5. Humidity
Some houseplants require a humid environment. One tip to maximize humidity is to put the pot inside a larger pot and fill in the gaps with stones or compost to keep in the moisture. Grouping plants together often creates a microclimate that they will benefit from. If you want, you can spray them with water once or twice a day depending on the temperature.

6. Re-potting
Some plants require re-potting for optimum growth but there are others that resent having their roots disturbed. Or their roots system may be small enough that they don’t require re-potting. One way to check if your plant needs re-potting is to turn it upside down. Tap the pot to release the plant and check its roots. If roots are all you see, then re-pot. Sometimes the roots will come out of the pot. You should either cut them off or re-pot the plant.

You just need to have a little care for your plants and in turn, you’ll reap the benefits. Indoor plants not only add to the beauty of your décor, but also give much pleasure to the indoor gardener.

Creating Microclimates to Facilitate Growth

Many gardeners live in areas where almost anything can grow effortlessly.
Just plant the seeds and water it for a few weeks, and you’ve got a
beautifully lush plant. But if you live in somewhere like Colorado, you’ll
understand what its like to have a slim selection of plants that naturally
grow. It can be quite a challenge to facilitate the growth of a large
variety of plants, especially when the very world you live in seems to be
rooting against you.

Some people solve this problem by loading up their plants with every type
of chemical and fertilizer known to man. This usually works, but to me it
seems kind of unnatural to rely on man made materials to keep your plants
alive. Also, if I’m growing fruits or vegetables, I don’t feel very
comfortable eating something that is entirely composed of chemicals.

A gardening theory that I have relied on in the past to grow many types of
plants is that of creating a “microclimate” for each type of plant. This
is when you regulate the sunlight, shade, moisture, and wind factors for
each separate plant. It sounds like a challenge, and it is. But you can
regulate these factors in such a way that the plant feels just like it is
in the ideal growing conditions. This can be achieved by the use of wind
barriers, shading umbrellas, extra water, or different types or amounts of
compost.

If you’re ready to make an attempt at creating microclimates, you’ll need
to make a detailed plan in advanced. You should start by finding a large
shade providing bush or tree that will grow fast and naturally in your
area. Just look at some undeveloped plots of land and see what is there.
Most likely it grew on its own without any planting or care. This is what
you want to happen. Usually the growing of one plant can bring about the
growing of another more desirable plant.

If you have a fence in your backyard (you would be surprised at how many
people don’t) then you already have a good amount of shade to work with.
You can start the microclimate process using just the shade of the fence,
combined with (perhaps) a screen or large bush to shade your new plant for
the other half of the day that the fence doesn’t take care of. The fence
is also useful for shading against wind for very fragile plants.

Once you have established the shade, be it natural or unnatural, you have
created a slightly less harsh miniature environment. You must remember
this is a gradual process, and find a new plant to put in the shade of the
other one. Now your choices are a little more open. You don’t have to go
with a rugged plant like the one you did before; you can now choose a
plant that survives in cooler weather.

If the plant you are trying to grow next requires more moisture in the air
than your area provides, installing a fountain or small pond can fix this
problem due to the evaporation. You may think you don’t want to waste
water on a pond or fountain, but it’s all going toward the betterment of
your garden. It’s just like the watering process, only indirect. As an
added benefit, usually fountains are quite aesthetically attractive and a
great addition to your garden.

I can’t explain every stage of the process, because everyone’s goals and
setups are slightly different. But to reach your goal, you should do
research on every plant that you would like to have in your garden. Find
out everything you can about the zone that it flourishes in, and ask
yourself how you can emulate that zone within your own backyard. Almost
always you can take control of the environment and recreate whatever you
wish. Usually all it takes is some planning and strategy.

Choosing and Planting Perennials

If you’ve been growing a vegetable garden for a while, you might be feeling slightly disgruntled at how plain it is to look at. I too began my gardening career with a vegetable garden, but I decided that it wasn’t quite as pleasing to look at as I would have liked. I heard from a friend that the use of perennial flowers could be a great way to liven up my garden without adding any extra work for me.

Perennial flowers are strong, local flowers that come back every year without having to replant or do any extra work. During their off seasons, the flowers and stems die back and you can hardly even tell the plant is there (rather than just dying and looking like hideous brown clumps in your garden). When it’s time to bloom, entirely new flowers shoot up where the old ones were.

Before deciding whether to put in perennials or not, you need to make sure that your soil has proper drainage. If the water stays saturated for long periods of time, you should build a raised bed. To test, dig a hole and fill it with water. Wait a day, and then fill it with water again. All traces of water should be gone within 10 hours. If the hole isn’t completely dry, you will need to build a raised bed.

Picking your perennials can be a complicated process. The goal should be to have them flowering as much as possible during the year, so you should create an outline of the year. Research the different types of flower you want, and create a timeline of flowering. If you plan it right, you can have a different type of flower blooming at any point in the year. Getting just the right mixture of seeds can give your yard a constantly changing array of colors.

When you go to buy the seeds from your local florist or nursery, you might be able to find a custom seed mixture for your area. This takes the really tough research part out of the job. Usually these blends are optimized for the local climate, and do great jobs of having flowers always grow in your yard. If one of these isn’t available, you can ask the employees what they think would be a good mixture. They should be happy to help you put something together which will be optimal for whatever you desire.

You should definitely use mulch when planting perennials. This will reduce the overall amount of work you have to do, by reducing the amount of weeds and increasing the water retention. Bark or pine needles work great, I have found, and depending on the rest of your yard you might have them on hand at no charge. As for fertilizer, you should use it sparingly once your plants start to come to life.

When you actually go to plant the seeds, you should put them in small, separate clumps according to the directions. This is because they tend to spread out, and if you have too many too close together then they will end up doing nothing but choking each other out. As you plant them, throw in a little bit of extremely weak fertilizer. In no time at all you should start to see flowers blooming up.

Container Gardening Tips for Newbies

Container gardens can create a natural sanctuary in a busy city street, along rooftops or on balconies. You can easily accentuate the welcoming look of a deck or patio with colourful pots of annuals, or fill your window boxes with beautiful shrub roses or any number of small perennials. Whether you arrange your pots in a group for a massed effect or highlight a smaller space with a single specimen, you’ll be delighted with this simple way to create a garden.

Container gardening enables you to easily vary your color scheme, and as each plant finishes flowering, it can be replaced with another. Whether you choose to harmonize or contrast your colors, make sure there is variety in the height of each plant. Think also of the shape and texture of the leaves. Tall strap-like leaves will give a good vertical background to low-growing, wide-leaved plants. Choose plants with a long flowering season, or have others of a different type ready to replace them as they finish blooming.

Experiment with creative containers. You might have an old porcelain bowl or copper urn you can use, or perhaps you’d rather make something really modern with timber or tiles. If you decide to buy your containers ready-made, terracotta pots look wonderful, but tend to absorb water. You don’t want your plants to dry out, so paint the interior of these pots with a special sealer available from hardware stores.
Cheaper plastic pots can also be painted on the outside with water-based paints for good effect. When purchasing pots, don’t forget to buy matching saucers to catch the drips. This will save cement floors getting stained, or timber floors rotting.
Always use a good quality potting mix in your containers. This will ensure the best performance possible from your plants.

If you have steps leading up to your front door, an attractive pot plant on each one will delight your visitors. Indoors, pots of plants or flowers help to create a cosy and welcoming atmosphere.
Decide ahead of time where you want your pots to be positioned, then buy plants that suit the situation. There is no point buying sun lovers for a shady position, for they will not do well. Some plants also have really large roots, so they are best kept for the open garden.

If you have plenty of space at your front door, a group of potted plants off to one side will be more visually appealing than two similar plants placed each side. Unless they are spectacular, they will look rather boring.
Group the pots in odd numbers rather than even, and vary the height and type. To tie the group together, add large rocks that are similar in appearance and just slightly different in size. Three or five pots of the same type and color, but in different sizes also looks affective.

With a creative mind and some determination, you will soon have a container garden that will be the envy of friends and strangers alike.

Growing Your Own Herbs

If you’re not the type of person that wants to spend their time managing
an elaborate fruit or vegetable garden, you might consider planting and
maintaining an herb garden. While the product might not seem as
significant, you’ll still enjoy the constant availability of fresh,
delicious herbs to flavor your meals with.

First you’ll want to choose the herbs that you’ll plant. You might have a
hard time doing this because of the huge scope of herbs available. But the
best way to choose is to do what I did; just look at what you have in your
kitchen. By planting your own collection of these herbs, you can save
money on buying them from the grocery store while having the added benefit
of freshness. Some of the herbs you might start with include rosemary,
sage, basil, dill, mint, chives, and parsley among others.

When choosing an area to put your herb garden, you should remember that
the soil should have extremely good drainage. If the dirt gets watered and
stays completely saturated, you have no chance of ever growing a healthy
plant. One of the best ways to fix the drainage problem is to dig a foot
deep in the soil, and put a layer of crushed rocks down before replacing
all the soil. This will allow all that water to escape, thus saving your
plants.

When you are ready to begin planting herbs, you might be tempted to buy
the more expensive plants from the store. However, with herbs it is much
easier to grow them from seed than it is with other plants. Therefore you
can save a bundle of money by sticking with seed packets. Some herbs grow
at a dangerously fast rate. For example, if you plant a mint plant in an
open space then it will take over your entire garden in a matter of days.
The best way to prevent this problem is to plant the more aggressive
plants in pots (with holes in the bottom to allow drainage, of course).

When it comes time to harvest the herbs you have labored so hard over, it
can be fatal to your plant to take off too much. If your plant isn’t well
established, it isn’t healthy to take any leaves at all, even if it looks
like its not using them. You should wait until your plant has been well
established for at least several months before taking off any leaves. This
wait will definitely be worth it, because by growing unabated your plant
will produce healthily for years to come.

Once you’ve harvested your delicious home grown herbs, you’ll want to use
them in cooking. Why else would you have grown them? Well first the
process begins with drying them out. This is easily achieved by placing
them on a cookie sheet and baking them 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 4
hours. After they’re sufficiently dried to be used in cooking, you can
consult the nearest cookbook for instructions on using them to effectively
flavor a dish.

If you want to store your herbs for later usage, you should keep them in a
plastic or glass container. Paper or cardboard will not work, because it
will absorb the taste of the herbs. During the first few days of storage,
you should regularly check the container and see if any moisture has
accumulated. If it has, you must remove all the herbs and re-dry them. If
moisture is left from the first drying process, it will encourage mildew
while you store your herbs. Nobody likes mildew.

So if you enjoy herbs or gardening, or both, then you should probably
consider setting up an herb garden. It might require a little bit of work
at first to set it up for optimal drainage, and pick what herbs you want
to grow. But after the initial hassle, it’s just a matter of harvesting
and drying all your favorite herbs.

Online Gardening Catalogues At Your Disposal

Are you searching for gardening catalogues? What kind of gardening and plants do you prefer to read about? There is a wide selection available online. Here are a few websites that offer gardening catalogues. Check out the URL to see if they are free or not.

1. www.jacksonsnurseries.co.uk

Along with nursery facilities, Jackson Nurseries offer landscape designing, ground designing and wholesale plants at wholesale prices.

2. www.mzbulb.com

If you are looking for flower bulbs, McClure and Zimmerman have each and every variety. They have a no fuss website navigation that allows interested clients to easily order gardening catalogs.

3. www.gardennursery.com

In business for over 50 years, Nichols Garden Nursery has an online catalogue unit offering seeds and plants. Their 76 page free gardening catalogue can be ordered by filling out their catalogue request form online.

4. www.gurneys.com

Gurneys offer great deals like buy one, get one free. They also have a no-risk guarantee and a scheduled shipping of orders according to categories of plants, i.e., roses, herbs, shrubs, and trees, tender annuals, and all other plants and bulbs.

5. www.homeharvest.com

Home Harvest Garden Supply offers alternative gardening products, i.e., organic fertilizers, hydroponics, natural insect controls, container, hobby greenhouse, propagation and irrigation supplies, indoor plant grow lights and other rare gardening supplies. They offer an online catalogue for every gardening enthusiast.

6. www.jacksonandperkins.com

Jackson and Perkins are known to be one of the best American gardening experts. They are reaching out to other gardening aficionados through their website, offering gardening products through their catalogue. They sell a wide range of plants – from new award-winning roses and easy to grow perennials, to special outdoor decor. Flowering gifts may also be sent directly to your friends by ordering from their site.

7. www.thegardenwindow.com

This site offers an online catalogue that specializes in imported Chinese tree peonies (from Mainland, China).

While free online catalogues may be good source of gardening supply information, you may also be deluged with a flood of promotion about other products.

Seven Gardening By the Yard Tips

If you have a tiny yard and would like a simple but well-maintained garden, you only need two things – determination and know-how. Here are some tips on how to keep your garden by the yard looking spruced up and glamorous.

1. Deadheading
Keep your border free from wilted flowers and dried leaves. Deadheading or removing dead flower heads will encourage the plants to produce more blooms for longer. Many perennials such as geraniums and dahlias, and some annuals benefit from having spent blooms removed

3. Pinch out tops.
Certain plants – especially foliage plants like Coleus – respond with a spurt of growth when their tops are pinched out. Pinching out makes the plant much bushier and so more blooms are produced. Fuchsias are prone to becoming leggy unless they are pinched out.

4. Fertilize lightly.
A minimal amount of fertilizer will further boost the growth of your vegetation. If you water your yard frequently, you have to fertilize it more regularly because of nutrient depletion. A fortnightly application of liquid fertilizer is sometimes more beneficial than granules as it is more readily absorbed by the leaves. Container plants will be considerably healthier with a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer applied regularly.

5. Weed out.
This is one of the best ways to preserve the beauty of your garden by the yard. Remember, weeds compete with your plants for both nutrients and moisture. If the weeds are not close to seeding, leave them on the bed to rot down for mulch. If you must use a weedicide, try and get a wick applicator, rather than a spray. This will protect you plants from spray-drift.

6. Water them well
One good tip when it comes to watering your garden by the yard is to give it a thorough soaking once a week, making sure there is no run-off to cause erosion. Deep watering will encourage the growth of deeper roots that will be able to withstand dry spells weatherwise

7. Say no to chemicals
Chemicals are dangerous to humans and often kill the natural predators of the pest in your garden, so avoid them if possible. There are many organic alternatives that work almost as well.

Creating a Raised Bed

If your current planting goals involve plants that require good water drainage, I am sure you know how frustrating it is to have a yard that just won’t cooperate. Some plants can handle the excess water that comes about from being in an area that doesn’t drain properly. In fact, it might just cause them to bloom more lushly. However, other plants don’t cope as well, and it will cause them to die a gruesome, bloated death. You should always find out about the drainage required for every plant you buy, and make sure that it won’t conflict with any of the areas you are considering planting it in.

In order to test how much water your designated patch of soil will retain, dig a hole approximately ten inches deep. Fill it with water, and come back in a day when all the water had disappeared. Fill it back up again. If the 2nd hole full of water isn’t gone in 10 hours, your soil has a low saturation point. This means that when water soaks into it, it will stick around for a long time before dissipating. This is unacceptable for almost any plant, and you are going to have to do something to remedy it if you want your plants to survive.

The usual method for improving drainage in your garden is to create a raised bed. This involves creating a border for a small bed, and adding enough soil and compost to it to raise it above the rest of the yard by at least 5 inches. You’ll be amazed at how much your water drainage will be improved by this small modification. If you’re planning to build a raised bed, your prospective area is either on grass or on dirt. For each of these situations, you should build it slightly differently.

If you want to start a raised garden in a non grassy area, you won’t have much trouble. Just find some sort of border to retain the dirt you will be adding. I’ve found that there is nothing that works quite as well as a few two by fours. After you’ve created the wall, you must put in the proper amount soil and steer manure. Depending on how long you plan to wait before planting, you will want to adjust the ratio to allow for any deteriorating that may occur.

If you’re trying to install a raised bed where sod already exists, you will have a slightly more difficult time. You will need to cut the sod around the perimeter of the garden, and flip it over. This may sound simple, but you will need something with a very sharp edge to slice the edges of the sod and get under it. Once you have turned it all upside down, it is best to add a layer of straw to discourage the grass from growing back up. After the layer of straw, simply add all the soil and steer manure that a normal garden would need.

Planting your plants in your new area shouldn’t pose much difficulty. It is essentially the same process as your usual planting session. Just be sure that the roots don’t extent too far into the original ground level. The whole point of creating the raised bed is to keep the roots out of the soil which saturates easily. Having long roots that extend that far completely destroys the point.

Once you have plants in your new bed, you’ll notice an almost immediate improvement. The added soil facilitates better root development. At the same time, evaporation is prevented and decomposition is discouraged. All of these things added together makes for an ideal environment for almost any plant to grow in. So don’t be intimidated by the thought of adjusting the very topography of your yard. It is a simple process as I’m sure you’ve realized, and the long term results are worth every bit of work.