Building a Rock Garden

Building a Rock Garden

The idea of a rock garden really came into vogue in the mid 20th century.  Visitors vacationing in the Swiss Alps loved the way that flowers and plants grew between the rocks.  These types of gardens were visually appealing and low maintenance so it is not surprising that the idea was brought back to North America and caught on quickly.  If you are interested in building a rock garden then read on and we will show you how easy it really is.

Finding the Right Spot

Rock gardens can be as big or as small as you want them to be but each garden is unique.  You can create your garden with flowers, plants and of course rocks.  You can add ponds and waterfalls, they can be simple or quite elaborate.  The first thing you need to decide is where you are going to put it.  Do you want to put your rock garden in the front yard for everyone to see or in the back yard where you can enjoy a peaceful oasis yourself?

Materials

When it comes to getting rocks for your garden you should consider using rocks that are native to the area, it makes it look more authentic.  Once you have placed your rocks where you want them, the next thing that you want to do is let them settle for a week or two. You want to pick plants that work in your climate, rock gardens tend to be the most popular in the southwest where droughts are common.  The plants and flowers that you pick should be able to work with the conditions in your garden.

The Soil

Even with a rock garden you need to use the right type of soil.  You want rich dirt that will drain properly so you don’t end up with pools of stagnant water that attracts mosquitoes.  If your yard has hard soils like clay then you are going to want to soften it up, you can do that with mulch or some other organic material.  If your plants aren’t doing as well as you would like then you can improve the soil with grass clippings, shredded leaves, manure or shells from nuts.

Even though it is a rock garden you still need sunlight, water and wind.  You want to put your rock garden together carefully and don’t leave any areas where you will end up with pools of standing water.  You plants will be delicate at first so water them with a can instead of a hose.  Don’t overdo it with the fertilizers and you’re probably better off with organic fertilizers.  Don’t worry once you have everything together it will look stunning!

 

Grow a Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

Growing vegetables in your garden is not much different than growing any other plant or flower.  You don’t need any more space  than you do for flowers and many vegetables are actually a lot less work than growing flowers.  One of the first vegetables that amateur gardeners try and grow are tomatoes (yes, we know they are technically fruits).  There is nothing like cooking with fresh ripe tomatoes fresh from your garden.  Tomatoes are easy to grow and you can even grow them in pots.  Let’s have a look at what you need to do to grow a bumper crop of tomatoes.

What Type of Tomatoes

First things first, there are a huge variety of tomatoes and not all of them grow in the same type of soil.  They need different amounts of sunlight and water, some thrive indoors and others don’t.  You want tomatoes that will thrive in the conditions that you have.  You are going to want to check the instructions on the packages of seeds before you plant them.  If you are buying seedlings from a nursery then check with the staff before you pick the wrong ones.

Where and When

Where you live and the time of year that you plant makes a huge difference too, in the south it is sunny and warm throughout the year and that gives you the chance to grow tomatoes in a sunroom.  The further north you go the less sunlight you get in the winter months, so even if you have a warm sunroom you may not get enough daylight for your tomatoes to thrive.

Caring for Tomato Plants

Tomatoes like any other plant need water and good soil.  Tomatoes should get at least an inch of water every week and if you are growing them in containers then it should have holes in the bottom so that the water can drain.  If water accumulates around the roots of the tomato plants then you end up with root rot.  If you are growing them in pots then you don’t want to use ordinary potting soil instead you need a mixture of perlite, vermiculite and sphagnum.

Growing tomatoes really isn’t as hard as you think, that is why they are one of the most popular crops.  There is nothing that tastes quite as delicious as a good tomato sauce that you made yourself with tomatoes from your own garden.

Growing Lilacs in Your Garden

Growing Lilacs in Your Garden

We are in the middle of fall and this is the time when you start considering what you want your garden to look like in the spring.  There are plenty of plants that bloom in the spring that need to be planted in the fall.  Lilacs are beautiful and fragrant flowers and when they bloom it is always a sign that summer is just around the corner.  Lilacs also grow better in areas that have distinct seasons and a winter freeze.  If you want to add lilacs to your garden but aren’t sure how to care for them then let us show you.

Origins of Lilacs

Lilacs are actually part of the olive family and the originally came from southeastern Europe all the way to eastern Asia.  That part of the world has a more temperate climate than most of the US.  Right here at home they grow better in the northern states where winters are colder.  While they will grow in the southern states they may not bloom.

Growing Lilacs

You will want to plant your lilacs in soil that is well drained and just a bit alkaline.  If you want to see the blooms in the spring then don’t prune your lilac bushes.  When you prune these plants the new growth doesn’t produce flowers.  They are fairly hardy plants but they can be prone to getting powdery mildew disease.  Lilacs need about 6 hours of sun but they do thrive in cooler but humid weather.  If you are planting your lilac bush then you want to do it either in the early spring or in the late fall.

Planting

When it comes to planting lilacs you need to remember that the small plant you put into the ground will quickly turn into a very large bush.  If you are planting more than one then you need to space them at least 10 feet apart.  You need to add mulch that is at least three inches deep and you can use wood chips or bark that will help keep the roots damp and keep you from running over them with the lawn mower.  Add fertilizer at least twice each year, do it in the spring and the fall.

Lilacs are beautiful flowers with a delightful fragrance.  They are said to symbolize love but they are more strongly associated with Easter since that is often the time of year that they start to bloom.  Lilacs are very low maintenance and you don’t really have to do much too have a vibrant healthy bloom each spring.

Grow the Perfect Rosebush

Grow the Perfect Rosebush

Many new gardeners are intimidated at the idea of growing roses, they think roses are delicate flowers that need a lot of attention and gardening know-how.  If you want to try your hand with roses then here are some steps that can help you grow the perfect rosebush.

Getting Started

If you are starting to grow your roses right from the seed the first thing you want to do is find the right spot.  You want your roses to be able to get around 6 hours of sunlight every day.  In addition to the location there are dozens of different types of roses that you can plant.  Once you have figured out what and where you’re going to plant your roses, then next issue is how often do you need to water them.  Roses need regular watering especially in the beginning, once the bush starts to grow you may only need to water it once a week or so.

This is a Longterm Project

Roses are high maintenance and they are going to take a while before you see some beautiful blooms.  Yes, roses can be fragile and they are subject to disease that other plants just don’t have to deal with.  Roses are going to take your time and attention.  Don’t be intimidated once you get the hang of it the beautiful flowers you get will make it all worth it.

What Colour Roses

You probably decided to grow roses because you have a particular color that you love.  You may want to grow rich red roses or the pretty pink ones, but colour isn’t the only factor when it comes to picking the right roses here are some other factors to look for.

  • Rose bushes can reach heights of up to 20 feet and they will overshadow other plants if you have other flowers in your garden
  • You need sufficient space to grow rose bushes they need sunlight, enough space to grow and air exposure, make sure that the soil drains well
  • Plenty of people are allergic to roses and while you may love the sweet smell of roses you may have a family member who can’t handle having them grow nearby

Roses are delicate and they don’t tolerate frost very well.  If  you have long winters then you need to find a rosebush that can handle that type of climate.  You may also want to look for strains that are more disease resistant, they will require less maintenance than some others.

Putting Raised Beds in the Garden

Putting Raised Beds in the Garden

Putting raised beds in the garden is nothing new gardeners have been using this method for ages to grow more plants and because it is just convenient.  If you look around your neighborhood you will see plenty of gardens with raised beds as people get more creative with landscape design, especially in the city where space is at a premium.  You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to build your own raised bed, using a variety of materials that you probably already have on hand.  You can buy ready to assemble kits at the garden center.  Here are some advantages to using raised garden beds.

Easy Drainage

Raised beds have better drainage and if you have heavy rainfall where you live then you don’t have to worry about your plants drowning.  The soil is looser in raised beds making water run off easier, because the beds are raised and contained you don’t get soil erosion that comes with runoff.  Water will pass through to the lower area of the bed and not kill your plants.

Easy Aeration

Because of the nature of raised beds and the looser soil structure you have much better aeration.  Raised beds are ideal if you have compacted or hard soil in your yard.  Having good air circulation through the soil helps with the microbial population and keeps your soil healthy.  Raised beds don’t get trampled either so you don’t have to worry about compacting with flooding or trampling.

Fewer Weeds

Weeds seeds end up on the ground and you don’t see or notice them when you are planting your garden.  You end up watering and fertilizing them without even realizing.  With raised beds there are fewer weed seeds and less weeding to do throughout the year.  Because raised beds are shallower it is a lot easier to remove the weeds you do end up with.

No Digging

It doesn’t matter if you are planting flowers or vegetables you are going to have to do some digging and clearing.  With a raised bed you don’t have to do any of that, rather you can fill up the planter with some top soil and compost and put in your seeds.

Raised beds have plenty of advantages, not only are they easier to look after but it is a great way to make use of a small space.  You can use them for any type of plants whether you want to grow spinach or add some flowers to your landscaping.

Natural Pest Control Methods

Natural Pest Control Methods

If you are interested in or practice organic gardening then you have probably wondered about how to manage the pests that come into your garden without using any harsh chemicals.  Natural pest control is safe and effective, you can protect your flowers or crops from the insects looking for food.  Natural pest control methods are safer and healthier for the environment and your family.  If you are growing any vegetables then you want the healthiest and best tasting crops possible.  Natural pest control also won’t harm your soil and give you better plants.  So let’s look at how to keep unwanted guests out of your garden.

Biological Control

Most of the insects that pass through your garden are harmless or even necessary.  There are good insects like dragonflies, bees or ladybugs that call your garden home and they will feast on the bad insects that you don’t want in your garden.  One of the best natural pest control strategies is to get the good bugs to eat the bad bugs in your garden.

Covering Your Plants

You can use fencing, fine mesh nets and different fibers to keep insects and animals from eating your plants.  It isn’t just insects that will come into your garden, especially if you plan on growing any vegetables.  Rabbits, rodents and deer all look for easy food to grab and your garden is like a buffet table for them.  It may cost you some money to cover up the garden but it will pay for itself with a better yield.

Preparation

Before you start planting seeds you will have to prepare your garden properly.  Make sure you till your garden and weed your garden regularly.  Weeds will also attract insects that you don’t want in your garden.  Organic fertilizers will help too, also that will help keep your garden organic.  Make your own compost so that you know exactly what is going into your garden.

Natural Products

Natural insecticides are also useful in keeping insects and other animals away from the garden.  You can make sprays from peppermint, garlic or even soap that won’t harm your plants but insects hate them.  You probably already have the ingredients laying around the house or you can grab them cheaply.

Get Your Garden Ready for Winter Properly

Get Your Garden Ready for Winter Properly

Fall is not as far off as we would like to think, pretty soon we will have colder temperatures and it will be time to start cleaning up the yard and getting it ready for winter.  Fall cleanup shouldn’t be left too late in the year, you don’t want to be out raking leaves when it is freezing outside.  Let’s show you how to get your garden ready for winter properly so when spring rolls around again you will be ready to plant.

Raking Your Leaves

You don’t need to remove each and every leaf that falls in your yard but you do want to get rid of most of them.  Some leaves are a good thing, they offer places for insects to nest over the winter.  Don’t leave thick layers of leaves it keeps the sun and air from getting to your grass and it traps moisture.  This in turn can cause disease.

Check the pH of Your Soil

The fall is actually the best time to prepare your yard for landscaping in the following spring.  You can grab a soil testing kit from your local home improvement or gardening store and make sure that your soil isn’t lacking any vital nutrients your grass and plants may need.  If your soil is acidic then you will need lime, on the other hand if it is too alkaline then you will add sulphur instead of lime to balance it out.  Here is how to check the pH of your soil.

Seed Your Lawn

Did you have patchy spots on your lawn?  If you did then now is the perfect time to seed your lawn so that you have lush and thick grass next year.  Cut your grass extremely short then you will want to seed the lawn with a spreader.  Water it regularly until your grass is about three inches.

Clean Up Your Beds

If you planted vegetables then you need to make sure that you remove any plants that had mildew or any types of fungus.  Wet vegetable plants are breeding ground for mold and disease.  For your flower garden you can wait until the first big frost and then cut out any diseased plant material it will help make next year’s crop of flowers that much healthier.  Don’t put diseased plants into your compost pile it can ruin the compost.

Fall cleanup is every bit as important as spring cleanup so make sure that you get your garden ready for winter.

Basic Gardening Terms Explained

Basic Gardening Terms Explained

Are you thinking about becoming an excellent gardener? How about you start easy by learning some common gardening terms? This post shall uncover some basic gardening terms you need to know

  1. Perennial – A plant that survives beyond one year.
  2. N-P-K – Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, the most common ingredients used in plant fertilizers.
  3. Hybrid – The result of cross-pollinating plants. A hybrid is usually healthier and more resistant to adverse environmental conditions as compared to its parents. You can produce a hybrid yourself, or it can happen through natural cross-pollination.
  4. pH – Loosely translates into the power of Hydrogen. It is a unit used to measure how acidic or saline your soil is. These measures are interpreted in a pH scale. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with values between 0 and 7 being acidic, 7 being neutral and values over 7 considered as basic. Highly acidic soils will score a pH not greater than 3 while highly alkaline soils score values above 10.
  5. Humus – A brown or black organic substance that you make by decomposing plant or animal matter. You can use decaying leaves, twigs or decomposing food to make humus.
  6. Mulch – Materials you spread over the surface of soil and around your plants to trap as much moisture as possible. They are great for stabilizing the temperature of your soil as well as helping with weed control. Examples include wood chips, leaves, straw and grass clippings.
  7. Soil erosion – The removal of the upper layers of soil by water, wind, animals or other agents. Usually, with effect that the soil left behind is less nutritious than it was.
  8. Soil leaching – The process by which too much water seeps into the soil, washing away excess nutrients. Unlike soil erosion, soil leaching is a necessary procedure used to purify soil and make it more productive.
  9. Deciduous plants – Plants that shed every fall.
  10. Air plants – Plants that grow without needing any soil. Instead, they grow by winding around other plants, fences and other structures. They lead an epiphytic life, as they do not benefit from those other plants in terms of minerals salts. All they need is support.
  11. Biennial – A plant that dies when it reaches 2 years of age. Such plants produce foliage the first year and flowers the second year. Examples include celery and carrots.
  12. Aeration – The process of loosening the soil so as to make it less compact. Water, mineral salts, fertilizer and air is then easier to penetrate such soils. Aeration is normally done during the hot and dry weather conditions.

There are hundreds of more gardening terms to learn. But the above are fairly basic for anyone eyeing gardening.