GARDENING UNLEASHED SAFE HOME IMPROVEMENT BENEFITS OF GARDENING FOR KIDS Apparently, we can see how nature is treated these days. It is a sad thing to know that people do not pay attention so much anymore to the environmental problems. What can we do about this? It's as simple as starting with the children. It is good to see the children's involvement with environment-friendly activities. One such nature-loving activity that children could easily get their hands on is gardening. Why should you consider gardening for your children? Here are the benefits that gardening could easily provide the children with: 1. Science In planting, children are indirectly taught the wonders of science like the plant's life cycle and how human's intervention can break or make the environment. They can have a first hand experience on the miracle of life through a seed. This would definitely be a new and enjoyable experience for the kids. 2. Life Watching a seed grow into a tree is just as wondrous as the conception to birth and growth of a child. In time, kids will learn to love their plants and appreciate the life in them. Gardening could actually help simulate how life should be treated -- it should be with care. The necessities to live will be emphasized to kids with the help of gardening - water, sunlight, air, soil. Those necessities could easily be corresponded to human necessities, i.e., water, shelter, air, food. By simply weeding out, one could educate how bad influences should be avoided to be able to live life smoothly. 3. Relaxation Studies show that gardening can reduce stress because of its calming effect. This is applicable to any age group. More so, it stimulates all the five senses. Believe it or not, gardening may be used as therapy to children who have been abused or those who are members of broken homes. It helps build one's self-esteem. 4. Quality Time with the Family You can forget about your stressful work life for a while be soothed by the lovely ambience in the garden. You can play and spend quality time with your children. You can talk while watering the plants or you can work quietly beside each other. The bottom line is, always do what you have to do, together with your kids. You might discover a lot of new things about your child while mingling with them in your garden. Let kids become aware of their environment's needs. And one way to jumpstart that environmental education may be through gardening. It's hitting two birds with one stone -- teach them to respect life while you bond with them. How-to-improve-your-flower-gardening Care of the Flower Garden Knowing how to care for your flower garden can make a big difference in the look and over-all health of your plants. Here are some simple hints to make your garden bloom with health 1. The essentials must always be given major consideration. Your flower garden must have an adequate supply of water, sunlight, and fertile soil. Any lack of these basic necessities will greatly affect the health of plants. Water the flower garden more frequently during dry spells. When planting bulbs, make sure they go at the correct depth. When planting out shrubs and perennials, make sure that you don't heap soil or mulch up around the stem. If you do, water will drain off instead of sinking in, and the stem could develop rot through overheating. 2. Mix and match perennials with annuals. Perennial flower bulbs need not to be replanted since they grow and bloom for several years while annuals grow and bloom for only one season. Mixing a few perennials with annuals ensures that you will always have blooms coming on. 3. Deadhead to encourage more blossoms. Deadheading is simply snipping off the flower head after it wilts. This will make the plant produce more flowers. Just make sure that you don't discard the deadhead on the garden or mildew and other plant disease will attack your plants. 4. Know the good from the bad bugs. Most garden insects do more good than harm. Butterflies, beetles and bees are known pollinators. They fertilize plants through unintentional transfer of pollen from one plant to another. 80% of flowering plants rely on insects for survival. Sowbugs and dung beetles together with fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms are necessary to help in the decomposition of dead plant material, thus enriching the soil and making more nutrients available to growing plants. Other insects like lacewings and dragonflies are natural predators of those insects that do the real damage, like aphis. An occasional application of liquid fertilizer when plants are flowering will keep them blooming for longer. Always prune any dead or damaged branches. Fuchsias are particularly prone to snapping when you brush against them. The broken branch can be potted up to give you a new plant, so it won't be wasted. Gardening Gifts Gardening Gifts for All Occasions There is nothing nicer than receiving a gift relating to one's passion. If your loved one's passion is gardening, then show your thoughtfulness by giving a gift that will be truly appreciated. There are so many great gardening gifts that the only constraint is your own budget. If your budget is small, go for things like gloves, kneepads or even a shady hat. A pretty pot (or a watering-can) filled with a small bag of potting mix, a packet of bulbs, some gloves and a small trowel or other tool will be received with delight by most gardeners. There are many hand tools at hardware stores that are reasonably priced. If you feel that is too ordinary, how about a subscription to a gardening magazine? A tiny bit more expensive perhaps, but it will give twelve full months of delight. A book on gardening is another idea, but make sure your recipient does not already have the one you choose. Books are often heavily discounted at Christmas time, so you may get a bargain. On the other hand, a pot that contains a flowering plant is usually a welcomed gift. Be sure to choose a plant that is suited to your climate. Sometimes plants are sent from tropical to temperate zones and kept in artificial conditions in the store. These plants will not do well once taken from their environment. Shrub roses are hardy and attractive and grow in many climates. Tulips do best in the cooler climate. If your budget is strong, a more expensive tool may be appropriate. A pull-trolley is easier to use than a wheelbarrow and, like some electric tools, is still not terribly expensive. Small electric tools such as whipper-snippers can retail for as little as $20.00. Or if your friend has a hose but not a hose reel, then that would be a more useful gift that he would truly appreciate. Automatic lawn mowers, electric cultivators, hedge trimmers and brush cutters are in the more expensive price range and you are the only one who can decide whether that is an appropriate gift. However, when the recipient realizes you have given a gift that complements his passion, expensive or not, it will certainly become the best gift your friend has ever received. Hydroponics Gardening Hydroponics was derived from the Greek word hydro, which means "water" and ponos, which means "labor or water-working". Hydroponics gardening involves growing plants with their roots in other nutrient solutions and without soil. Hydroponics gardening is as simple as ordinary gardening. Both of them necessitate sufficient light, water, temperature, light, and humidity. But with hydroponics, no soil is used. Instead a soil substitute holds the roots while nutrients are carried by the water. Indoor hydroponic gardening is not that hard and plants respond well to this method of growing. This is one of the major considerations in hydroponics gardening since it sustains the plants. One has to make sure that this nutrient solution maintains a pH level of 5 to 6 after dilution. In hydroponics gardening, the plants should be watered more than three times a day. this is usually done using a pump and timer. If your hydroponics garden is located indoors, the most suitable temperature is between 71 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, this temperature may change depending on the different types of plant you are working on, e.g. tropical plants. Place your plants somewhere they can receive ample amount of light. Otherwise artificial light must be used. High pressure Sodium lights or bulbs are a suitable substitute for natural light. Humidity is good. When the room’s temperature rises, the air will be able to hold the sufficient amount of moisture your plants will need. A hydroponics system can be fully automated. Since it is water-based, the gardener has no soil to dig or weeds to pull. Also, the water can be re-used to prevent wastage. With hydroponics, an excellent yield of quality plants can be easily achieved. Home hydroponics systems and DIY kits are are readily available in most hardware stores. IMPORTANCE OF GARDENING GLOVES Healthy hands are the Gardener's Best Tools Here are the major reasons why one should consider getting a pair of trusty gardening gloves: Gloves protect your hands from blisters, thorns and cuts while doing rough work like digging or pruning in the garden. Investing in one or more pairs of quality gloves is a good decision. Here are some tips on how to choose the pair that will suit you best: 1. Look for quality leather gloves with a cloth back; this will let the gloves breathe and keep your hands dry, cool and comfortable. 2. If mud bothers you, select rubber gloves with cotton lining. 3. When spraying pesticides or chemicals choose gloves that are made from neoprene. Gloves made from latex or any type of plastic may not offer the best protection. 4. When pruning roses, use gloves that reach up to the arms. 5. If you usually operate large garden machinery, buy gloves in brown instead of red as the latter may dye your hands. 6. Light cotton or even fingerless gloves may be useful for transplanting seedlings. They will allow more dexterity and so help to prevent the tiny roots from being crushed. 7. And of course, make sure that the gloves you buy actually fit your hands. If you have small hands, try the children's gardening section. there's nothing worse than trying to garden is gloves that are too big. Your gloves must be comfortable as well as give protection to best serve your gardening needs. Landscaping Your Garden 3 Tips in Landscaping your Garden Landscaping is usually a fairly big task, consuming much time and energy. But before you hire that professional, here are some tips that could save both time and money. 1. Spend some time thinking about exactly how you want the final design to be. You need to take account of the style and function of your landscape. Do you want to include an area for entertaining? A barbeque? Is there to be an area for children to play, a fishpond or a swimming pool? An idea of the plants you want to be there will also help. Focus on the area where you spend most of your time. That's a good place to start. 2. Think twice before hiring a pro. An independent designer might cost you hundreds of dollars when you may be able to access free plans on the internet or at a nursery. But if you have an awkward block such as very steep ground, a pro might give you the expertise to save costly mistakes. 3. The style of your home must be taken into account. If you have a rural cottage, formal gardens surrounding it will look out of place. Think also about your lifestyle. Do you want to spend hours caring for many beds of annuals or pruning beds of roses? If so, go ahead and plant them, but if you'd rather spend your free time at the beach, then go for an easy-care garden and landscape. Here are the various landscape styles you can choose for your own garden: a. Formal. This style uses lots of straight lines and perfect geometrical shapes. Orderly arrangement of plants instead of random positioning is employed. Close arrangement and pruning is seen on many landscaped gardens with this style. b. Informal. This kind of landscaping workds well with cosy cottages. Beds with curved edges instead of straight lines and random placement of plants suit this landscape style. c. English Garden. This style emphasizes the harmony between the house’s architecture and the garden. d. Formal/Informal Garden. This style often comes with a brick walkway that exudes formality. This walkway leads to the rear with a circle of plants. The arrangement of plants resembles the English garden style but it has no formal borders. e. Oriental. It is often the kind of garden found in small backyards. It uses rocks, evergreens and water. A wide variety of plants create several interesting angles with this style. f. Woodland. This landscaping suits a house that has a wooded backyard and sloping ground. Modern Gardening Equipment The types and quality of equipment you use to take care of your plants not only have an effect on your plants' health, but your own as well. Defective tools could cause damage to your plants, but it is worse if they are so uncomfortable to use that they give you blisters or a bad back. To avoid this, look for the gardening equipment that will do the best job for your type of gardening. It must have the right amount of power to be energy efficient while also being able to do the job without causing you any more strain than necessary. Here is a review of gardening equipment from the gardening experts themselves. 1. Garden Shredders JCB SS2400 received five stars out of five from the gardening equipment reviewers from recommendedbuys.co.uk. It has a 2400 watt motor and comes with a silent gear crushing system. It is one promising tool to improve and hasten your shredding activity. Ryobi ESR - 2240 Electric Shredder is an easy to assemble garden shredder suitable for prunings up to 40mm. It comes with built-in wheels and a plunger for increased portability. 2. Hedge Trimmer Bosch AHS42-16 Electric Hedge Trimmer also received five stars out of five rating from the gardening equipment reviewers from recommendedbuys.co.uk. It has 420 watt output. 3. Cultivators Mantis Tiller Cultivator comes with patented tines to aid in cutting smoothly through hard, compacted soil. It is perfect for preparing vegetable plots, flower beds, etc. It also helps in thatching, aerating and cleaning moss. It also comes with a free border edger. 4. Lawnmowers Brill 78370 Luxus Push Reel Mower rated 4.5 out of 5 stars Tools-hills.com customers. It has a large top cover that protects shrubs and overhanging flowers. American Lawnmower Deluxe Light Reel Mower 1815-16 received 4.5 stars out of 5 from Epinions.com buyers. A push-mower, it does not cause pollution, but is not suitable for tall grass. 5. Leaf Sweeper Agri-fab 26 Push Leaf Sweeper is for smaller lawns and is available with 200 litre collector. It also comes with an infinite height adjustment feature. GARDENING'S MOST VALUABLE ADVICE Many people may not be aware that gardening can actually harm the environment. A large amount of carbon dioxide can be released through tilling the soil. This contributes to global warming. When you cultivating and compacting the soil, destroys good fungi. Fertilizers like nitrogen and manure often leach out of the soil and pollute the water you drink. Global warming Did you know that the earth's soil gives out carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 10 times more than all human activity? This comes from the pill bugs, microbes, fungi and worms when they breathe, digest food and then die. Although in the past plants have been capable of absorbing carbon dioxide caused by small-scale tillages, this isn't the case nowadays. The increase of the globe's average temperature is because of the carbon dioxide the soil emits when tilled. The good news is that tilling can be minimized by mulching or sheet composting. Good Fungi In untilled soil, there is beneficial fungi known as the vesicular-arbuscular- mycorrhizae or VAM for short. VAM actually forms a symbiotic relationship with plants. Their filaments increase root hairs and provide nutrients to the plant. They give out zinc, copper, potassium and phosphorus. Plants provide carbohydrates for the fungi in return. It is possible to grow a garden without tilling the sooiil at all by mulching heavily until the soil is soft and friable. Surplus Nitrogen Many gardeners waste nitrogen and manures; farmers do otherwise. Farmers only need a quarter to a third of nitrogen to mix with an inch of compost, horse, or cow manure. Kate Burroughs of Sebastopol California, uses the same rule for her home-grown lettuce and sweet corns. When it comes to broccoli and pear trees, farmers only need a small amount. Notice that gardeners apply larger amounts of compost and manure than farmers. Obviously, they are not only wasting their fertilizer but also their money. The best gardening advice that can be given to those concerned is to do all things with moderation. Keep in mind that too little and too much of something is not healthy. This is the most valuable advice one can have in gardening. National Home Gardening Club What's in Store for National Home Gardening Club Members? The National Home Gardening Club offer many benefits to its members. It is said to be the largest home gardening organization with paid membership. For a nominal fee, various benefits are available. If you choose to become a member the National Home Gardening club, you will be entitled to the following perks. 1. Members can enter competitions to win free gardening products such as gardening accessories, tools, and other gardening supplies. 2. A coupon will be given to members to claim a free gardening shears. 3. Members can also access a free trial subscription of the Gardening How-To Magazine. 4. They may be eligible to test and keep gardening tools such as pruning shears. These are some of the products tested by members in the past two issues of the Gardening How-To magazine: - Honda Harmony Lawn Mower - Miracle-Gro Garden Weed Preventer - Sunflower Garden - Cobra Head Precision Weeder and Cultivator - Preen 'n Green 5. Members can enjoy a free directory of public gardens, which contains information about lush gardens, arboretums, and conservatories throughout the US. 6. They can interact and talk about tips, ideas and methods with other members. 7. Members can obtain gardening and landscaping tips and plans for the completion of various gardening projects. 8. They have access to the members-only gardening website. 9. Members can also preview gardening books, gardening videos, etc. Indeed, the for-members-only benefits are that grandiose. They are all for the gardening enthusiasts to grab. After the 30-day trial, you can continue your membership for only $1 per month. Many garden-lovers think this is a small price to pay for all these privileges. ROSE GARDENING TIPS Dealing with Rose Diseases To make sure that your prized roses remain in the best of health, simply follow these tips. 1. Black Spots on Leaves This disease is commonly known as black spot. Black spots appear as circular with fringed edges on leaves. They cause the leaves to yellow. Remove the infected foliage and pick up any fallen leaves around the rose. Artificial sprays may be used to prevent or treat this kind of rose disease. 2. Stunted or malformed young canes Known as powdery mildew, this is a fungal disease that covers leaves, stems and buds with wind spread white powder. It makes the leaves curl and turn purple. Spray with Funginex or Benomyl to treat this fungal disease. 3. Blistered underside of leaves Known as rust, this disease is characterized by orange-red blisters that turn black in fall. It can survive the winter and will then attack new sprouts in the spring. Collect and discard leaves that are infected in fall. a Benomyl or Funginex spray every 7- 10 days may help. 4. Malformed or stunted leaves and flowers This is caused by spider mites. They are tiny yellow, red or green spiders found on the underside of leaves where they suck juices. The application of Orthene or Isotox may help in treating this infestation. 5. Weak and mottled leaves with tiny white webs under them This is caused by aphids. They are small soft-bodied insects that usually brown, green or red. Often clustered under leaves and flower buds, they suck plant juices from tender buds. Malathion or diazinon spray may help roses to survive these bugs. 6. Flowers that don't open or are deformed when they open. Thrips could be the reason behind this problem. They are slender, brown-yellow bugs with fringed wings that also suck juices from flower buds. Cut and discard the infested flowers. Orthene and malathion may also treat this problem. Remember that roses are hungry feeders that require much fertilizer to become healthy bushes. SAFE PEST CONTROL TIPS FOR YOUR GARDEN Safe Pest Control Tips Pest control must be done with utmost consideration to safety; safety in terms of the plants, animals and humans. This holds especially true for those with vegetable and organic gardens. The main purpose of growing vegetables organically will be defeated if they become tainted with pest control chemicals. Here are a few long-term maintenance tips to make pest control less damaging and more environmentally friendly. 1. Use the physical pest control process. This may be accomplished through picking grubs off by hand, creating barriers and traps and plugging holes. Snails can be found hiding in damp places under rocks and towrds the base of those plants with straplike foliage. 2. Apply biological pest control. Encourage predatory insects such as green lacewings and dragonflies to feed on aphids and other pests that attack your plants. You can do this by placing a shallow bowl of water in the garden. Dragonflies especially will hover around water. Bacterial insecticides such as B. thuringiensis could also be used against caterpillars. 3. Only as a last resort should we turn to chemical pest control. Organic pest control methods can be successful and the ingredients for many of the recipes can be found in the kitchen cupboards. If chemical sprays are really necessary, try and find the least-toxic. These include insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, dehydrating dusts, etc. 4. Consider the use of safer pest control substitutes. Recipes for alternative pest control include the following: Against Green Aphids and Mites - Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and a cup of vegetable oil. Dilute a teaspoon of this solution in a cup of water and spray on aphids and mites. Against Cockroaches - Dusts of boric acid can be applied to cracks or entry points of these insects. Bay leaves on pantry shelves could also help in warding off these critters. Make sure that the chemicals you use are made specifically for the insects you are targeting. VEGETABLE GARDENING TIPS Vegetable Gardening Tips With the costs of living rising all the time, it may be possible to save money and increase your family's health at the same time by growing vegetables in your backyard. It's a good idea to choose your favourite vegetables to grow and plan beds for early, middle of the season and late varieties. Most vegetables require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, some need 8. Some quick growers like lettuce and radish can be grown between the rows of plants that take longer to mature, like beet or corn, thus making full use of the area available. Throughout dry periods, vegetable gardens need extra watering. Most vegetables benefit from an inch or more of water each week, especially when they are fruiting. During the growing season watch for insect pests. If you discover a bug problem early it will be much easier, but be careful to not use pesticides once the vegetable are close to being picked unless it becomes an absolute necessity. Organic gardening is one healthy and environment-friendly option. Once you have reaped your crop, put the vegetable waste into your compost pile so that it can be recycled for next spring. It is important to protect your vegetable garden from wild animals looking for a tasty treat. Make sure your garden is surrounded by a fence that will keep out dogs, rabbits, and other animals. The harm done by wandering animals during one season can equal the cost of a fence. A fence also can serve as a frame for peas, beans, tomatoes, and other crops that need support. Protection is needed in order for your vegetable garden to yield a bountiful harvest. Hard work will pay dividends if necessary precautions have been made. BUTTERFLY GARDENING What is butterfly gardening? Simply put butterfly gardening is the art of growing flowers and plants that will attract these colorful and dainty creatures to your garden. Delight your family and visitors with beautiful butterflies, but be sure to create a safe habitat for them. If you own cats rethink your plans, because it would be a shame to attract these lovely insects to their death. The design your butterfly garden is a matter of personal preference. Typical points to consider are the size of your garden and the types of flowers and plants you want to grow. Pick a style of garden that appeals to you, but ensure it also contains the plants and flowers that appeal to the butterflies you wish to attract. It is important to find out which plants and flowers will attract the species of butterflies. that live in your area. This information can be found at the local library To create the kind of environment that they find attractive, you will also need water of some kind. A birdbath will look attractive and keep the butterflies up off the ground, away from stray cats or mischievous puppies. A shallow dish on a post or hung in a tree will do just as well. When planting your butterfly garden be careful how you coordinate the colors you choose for your flowerbeds. Although butterflies do not care about your choice of color, you don't want your garden to be a hodgepodge of unrelated colors and textures. Butterflies are attracted to those flowers that have nectar rather than pollen, like honeysuckle, milkweed, summer lilac, Valerian, daisies, Purple Coneflower, Yellow Sage, day lilies and lavender. Some people find it helpful to draw and color a layout of their butterfly gardening plan to see what the finished product would look like. Keep in mind that warm colors like red and orange are flashy and showy. These colors have a greater impact against a strong green background. Cool colors such as blue and purple are soothing and toned down and would work better with a white contrast to create the look of freshness and brightness. MORE ABOUT BUTTERLY GARDENING When creating a butterfly garden, the possibilities of what to include in your butterfly garden design are endless. Below are some suggestions to help get you started. They are designed to spark the creative process of your mind and get you started on your way to creating a lovely butterfly garden. Before you even begin your butterfly garden, find out which species of butterflies are in your area. Consider taking an exploratory hike around your location with a butterfly identification book. This may take a little extra time and effort, but the results will be worth it. After you have compiled your list of local butterfly species, be sure to write down in your butterfly garden plan what these particular species of butterflies use for nectar and food plants. Be sure that your garden is in a location that provides at least six hours of sunlight per day. Butterflies are cold-blooded creatures and therefore do better where they are warm and sheltered. Wind can be a butterfly's worst enemy so be sure to have plenty of wind protection in your design. You can plant tall shrubs and other plants in order to create a wind break, but a location that avoids heavy winds is even better. The best of all would be a butterfly garden placed on the sunny side of your home with windbreaks on both the west and east sides, or wherever the prevailing wonds come from in your area. Try and locate your garden close to a window so you can view the butterflies from indoors. Provide seating outside too. If possible, you could excavate an area and build a stone wall around it. This would create the ideal windbreak for your butterflies. Mmake gravel pathways around your garden to save walking in mud. There are many creative ways for constructing a butterfly garden. Take your time to design a garden that you will enjoy and be proud of. 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. GARDENING CATALOGS 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. GARDENING BY THE YARD 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. With these simple tips, your garden by the yard will soon be the envy of your neighbors. BEST PLANTS Choosing the Best Plants for your Garden Many times we buy plants on impulse then find there is nowhere in the garden that really suits them. Before buying plants carefully examine your garden to see how much sun and shade it gets, whether the soil is well drained or waterlogged and whether your aspect is sheltered or windswept. You'll then be equipped to go and buy the best plants for your situation; shade-loving plants for the sheltered areas, sun-lovers for the warm spots, drought-resistant plants for the parched areas which may be either sunny or shaded, and swamp plants for the poorly-drained parts. But wait! Test your soil first, to determine the pH level of your soil and what kind of nutrients you need to add, if any. Is the soil acid or alkaline? Most plants prefer soil that is slightly acidic, but there are some that must have alkaline soil to grow. You can alter the soil's pH level, but it's much easier to simply plant for the soil you have. Now you are ready to plant. Well - almost. Will you plant in groups or singly? If you buy 'one of everything' your garden may seem rather spotty. Group plantings are organised, harmonious and you can vary the color for interest. Before planting out, place your chosen plants around the garden bed in their pots to see how they will look. Re-arrange them until you are satisfied. Grouping plants in sets of threes or fives usually looks better than planting in groups of even numbers. Be sure that you have an interesting combination of colors and textures of plants. Tall plants should go to the back, or the centre if your garden will be viewed equally from all sides. Try to keep your plants away from trees. The roots of trees are fiercely competitive and will steal all the nutrients and moisture meant for your flowers. The right color scheme is one way to maintain the harmony in your garden. Imagine the color of the flowers when they are in bloom. Some colors may clash with others, but can still be planted side-by-side if they have a different blooming season. Foliage color is also important. Many flower plants have silver, grey or purplish foliage that is just as attractive as the flower. This means that they are still attractive well past the blooming season and so have added value. 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. GARDENING MAGS Gardening Magazines - Some of the Best Various gardening magazines are available in the market. But would you like to know which stands out from the rest? Here are a selection of gardening magazines that anyone in love with his or her garden will appreciate. COUNTRY GARDENS often showcases the more unusual gardens around the country. It introduces wonderful new ways to enjoy garden sights and scents. It helps the avid gardener to create an eye-pleasing, fragrance - filled country garden. This magazine has very useful advice on setting up and caring for your garden. Every issue contains profiles of fascinating people and their gardens, inspiration for gardens and detailed garden plans. Best of all, it's a trusted source of information that's easy to understand. Every season carries a vast harvest of ideas to delight, motivate and guide any gardener. How about a gardening magazine for those who want to become a better gardener? FINE GARDENING MAGAZINE from The Taunton Press brings you amazing design ideas, beneficial techniques, and the know-how to get the best results from your gardening endeavors. In each issue you'll find eye-opening bits of advice from the experts, detailed information on all types of plants, effective techniques and time-saving tips, straightforward tool reviews from editors and readers and planting suggestions for specific regions. But for more intensive information on how to maintain a garden packed with style and color, then you'll want to read GARDEN DESIGN. This gardening magazine brings out eye-popping photos, illustrations and useful recommendations on how to create a picture-perfect garden. It is written and designed for those who are passionate about their homes and gardens. Garden Design is more than just a dig- in-the-dirt gardening magazine; it's for people who enjoy bringing in more aesthetic value for their homes through their gardens. Garden Design encourages you to create stylish outdoor living spaces and rare gardens through cultivating rare breeds of plants, with updates on the best tools and techniques. It contains magnificent photographs and articles that capture the imaginations of gardeners everywhere. For passionate gardeners, HOLTICULTURE MAGAZINE is the ultimate guide to gardening. The authoritative voice of gardeners, Horticulture serves as an essential guide and trusted friend, and is a main resource for serious gardeners from every corner of the country. These magazines aim to instruct, inform, and inspire serious home gardeners. There are gardening magazines for beginners and expert gardeners. Discover or develop your green thumb with their latest gardening techniques and garden design information. For Australian readers, there is BURKE'S BACKYARD. Springing form a TV series of the same name, Burke's Backyard focuses on gardening décor as well as the all-important garden makeovers that have become so popular. YOUR GARDEN is another beauty, claiming the prestige of being Australia's gardening magazine, it usually features two or three popular flowers and how best to grow them, with a wealth of tips and information on other plants, tools and products for the garden. GARDENING AUSTRALIA springs from the ABC's feature of that name it features many wonderful articles by gardening experts and often holds a free catalogue from one of the larger nurseries. HOW TO 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. INDOOR GARDENING How to Do Indoor Gardening Plants are just as popular as furniture when one is deciding on furniture and soft furnishings. Aside from the aesthetic value plants provide your home with, there are also health benefits - grade school science class tells us that plants cleanse the air through utilizing the carbon dioxide and producing more oxygen. Here is some important information on how to care for your indoor plants to gain the optimum health and aesthetic benefits. Lighting Most indoor plants need good lighting. You can provide this through natural lighting in the room of your choice or there must be electric lighting. Darker leaved plants usually don't need as much light as others. Here are the varieties of plants (usually those that only require medium to low light) that are known to be suitable for indoor gardening: a. Philodendrons b. Boston ferns c. African violets d. Cyclamens e. Creeping Fig Watering A common mistake most people make in indoor gardening is they tend to over- water the plants, which may lead to rotting roots. Make sure to research the type of plant you have, because each kind of plant varies on their watering needs. Potting Choose good quality and attractive container for your indoor plants. Make sure that the pot is clean before placing your new plant into it to prevent infection and to encourage healthy growth. Humidity In indoor gardening, humidity is a big issue. The amount of moisture in the air has effect on the growth of the plants. During mornings, you could spray the plants with water for their much-needed moisture. Make sure the leaves don't get covered in dust. Fertilization Just like watering, fertilizing depends on the type of plant. If you have managed to supply your indoor garden with the right amount of light, water and humidity, fertilization may not need much attention. A good indoor fertilizer can be bought from most home depot or hardware stores. Orchids need the special fertilizer available. ORGANIC GARDENING Six Ticks For Organic Gardening Organic gardening is the way of growing vegetables and fruits with the use of things only found in nature. Why would one want to indulge in organic gardening? 1.One can easily make compost from garden and kitchen waste. Though this is a bit more time-consuming than buying prepared chemical pesticides and fertilizers, it certainly helps to put garbage to good use and so saves the environment. 2. Organic farming does not use chemicals that may have an adverse affect on your health. This is especially important when growing vegetables. Chemical companies tell us that the chemicals we use are safe if used according to direction, but research shows that even tiny amounts of poisons absorbed through the skin can cause such things as cancer, especially in children. On the average, a child ingests four to five times more cancer-causing pesticides from foods than an adult. This can lead to various diseases later on in the child's life. With organic gardening, these incidents are lessened. Remember, pesticides contain toxins that have only one purpose - to kill living things. 3. Less harm to the environment. Poisons are often washed into our waterways, causing death to the native fish and polluting their habitat. 4.Organic farming practices help prevent the loss of topsoil through erosion. The Soil Conservation Service says that an estimated 30 - 32 billion tons of soil erodes from United States farmlands every year. 4. Cost savings. One does not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. Many organic recipes for the control of pest and disease come straight from the kitchen cupboard. Sometimes other plants can be grown as companions to the main crop. An example of this is the marigold, which helps to repel aphids from vegetables. Mixing 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and 1 cup of cooking oil can make a cheap garden pest spray. Put 3 tablespoons of this mixture in 1 quart of water and spray on plants. 5.A simple mulch of pine needles will help to suppress the growth of weeds as well as keeping the moisture in. 6. Organic gardening practices help to keep the environment safe for future generations. CONTAINER GARDENING 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. BEST TOOLS In Search of the Best Gardening Tools Different kinds of gardens require different kinds of garden tools. Hardware stores mostly cater for a wide range of tools, but there are shops that specialize in the more expensive kind of garden tool that shouts quality. Wherever you decide to shop, here are a few pointers to advise you. Do you have small garden or a large one? A small garden will not require the same large equipment that would be of use in an extensive one. A ride-on mower is unnecessary if you only have a small strip of lawn. Another point to consider is who does most of the gardening? Some tools are too heavy for use by women. When you buy secateurs make sure the blade always stays sharp to avoid damaging the plant. Look for models that have blades that can be sharpened or replaced, models with tension control and with sizes that best fit your hands. Secateurs usually cost around $50 - $130. Hedge trimmers or shears are handy - but only if you have a hedge, or plan on growing one. Some hedge trimmers have curved blades to stop branches from sliding out when cut. Forks are used for turning and aerating compost and breaking up lumps of soil. The cheaper ones are often not strong enough for heavy soil, so go for sturdiness instead of price. Forks usually cost around $30 - $100. A shovel has a scoop blade and is best used to move around dirt and garden soil. A spade has a flat blade great for cutting edges, digging and dividing plants. The edge of a spade should be kept sharpened for clean and efficient cutting will cause the least amount of damage to plants. These are a basic garden necessity and usually cost from $30 - $50. A pruning saw is used for pruning trees and larger shrubs, while secateurs are for plants like roses. Pruning saws have a narrow curved blade that fits between stems or branches and easily and cuts them as you pull the saw backwards. They are approximately $27- $55. A chipping hoe is a handy tool for getting rid of small weeds. The Dutch or push- hoe is slightly more user-friendly as the action required to use it does not jar the neck and shoulder quite so much. A rake is also a basic requirement for the garden. The strong rake with the flat head and sharp metal prongs is used for smoothing a garden bed and getting out the last of the bumps and weeds. The plastic rake is used to gather leaves and grass clippings only. Gardening tools don't have to be expensive. Flea markets and garage sales can be excellent places to pick up great tool bargain.
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