Outdoor Garden Decor Adds Plenty of Personality

Yes, flowers are nice, but sometimes you just need something a little more. A centerpiece that you can masterfully plant flowers around that draws the eye to a spot of color or a special place. That’s where outdoor garden décor comes into play.

This is a small area of our yard where we have a stone garden statue. And around this piece of outdoor garden décor Jeff has decided that pink is the color for this area. So in the spring, there are lots of pretty pink Azaleas and Rhododendrons. It’s a splash of color that you just can’t miss.

Jeff actually has these little statues all around the yard. In a container gardening area, you’ll find small lion statues peeking in our door, surrounded by containers of beautiful flowers. Then there’s another centerpiece of garden statues and fountains that make for excellent bird watching as they bath and play in the water.

Even if you have a small space garden, you’ll find that it becomes much more interesting if you add a little outdoor garden décor. And things like sea shells and small cherub garden statues can even be placed in a square foot garden to add that little something more. So what are you waiting for, there’s lots of interesting things you can do in just a little space to make your garden outstanding!

Shop for garden statues, busts, angels and cherubs from Accents in the Garden the source for garden decor and outdoor statuary.

Growing Lettuce From Seed is Easy

Now, to you this picture may not look like a lot, but to me it looks like fresh lettuce all summer long. It’s our first lettuce crop of the year and we’ll be growing lettuce all year long!

Growing lettuce is not a hard thing to do, although, this year he did use a seed starter kit.

Lettuce is an early crop, so you need to plant it before the first signs of spring This year Jeff planted about five different varieties and they make a very yummy salad all mixed together. 

If you’re planting lettuce outside, you’ll need to use a cold frame for about six weeks before the last frost. The soil should be loosened for about 10 inches. Then use an inch of good compost or well-rotted manure.

Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows or in your square foot garden. You can also just throw them into the bed if you don’t care for symmetry. When growing lettuce from seed, it should sprout in 2-8 days when your soil temp is between 55 and 75 degrees.

If you’re planting lettuce indoors with a seed starter kit, like we did, put them under fluorescent lights around the same time. Then put the containers outside when the lettuce is about three weeks old for a couple of days before planting. After planting give them some shade for a few days to get them used to the outside and get their roots stabilized; then you’re good to grow!

Some of our lettuce bolted early, so we just pulled it out – mostly because he had some spinach he wanted to mix in and needed the space! But if you wanted to grow more lettuce from seed next year, you can let the yellow flowers bloom until they turn into seedpods.

Our lettuce is planted under a tree in our back yard.  Since our back yard is mostly filled with concrete because of the pool, he has to get creative when gardening. I really don’t know where the zucchini vines are going to go, probably over to the right a little. Its container gardening at its best!

He also has a trellis just to the right of this tree on the back fence where the pea plants will eventually climb. We’ll also have tomatoes soon too!  I’ll post a picture of them when I get the first red one (they had to be planted in containers). 

Oh, and did I mention the potatoes are also in. We had such good luck last year with our potato harvest that he planted double the amount this year. Again, they are under a tree, but who cares as long as we get to eat!

I’ll post more photos as the sun begins to shine and things start to bloom in our backyard Garden of Eden!

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Vegetable Garden Planting For Maximum Efficiency

When you’re planning a vegetable garden, there’s more to consider than just what plants grow in your area.  In fact, that should be your secondary concern as you get ready for your vegetable garden planting.

There are four questions you need to ask yourself before you even begin planning a vegetable garden:

  • What do you and your family like to eat
  • How much of these things CAN you eat
  • How much space do you have for growing vegetables
  • What grows best in your area

Taking these factors into account before you even begin will prevent you from wasting the food you grow, making vegetable gardening just that much more pleasant.  After all, the sight of rotting vegetables after you’ve done all that work to plant vegetable gardens is never pleasant.

Vegetable Garden Planting:

Depending on how much room you have, you might consider vegetable container gardening.  In fact, if you already have a flower container garden that grows a little tall, you can plant some herbs in with the flowers and make a border out of lettuce.

Green onions, carrots and herbs all make excellent vegetable container gardening plants, and are actually nice green plants to look at.

Also, when planning a vegetable garden, plan for the timing of harvesting your crop. Just because you get a million seeds in a packet doesn’t mean you have to plant them all at once.  If you plant everything at once, it will all become eatable at once.  Plant a few seeds the first time, then maybe a week or two plant a few more depending on how long it takes them to grow.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to start planning a vegetable garden, and also how to do your vegetable garden planting so you’ll be eating fresh garden greens all summer long – and beyond!

For more good advice, check out Bartholomews All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook: Taking the Harvest to the Table

Vertical Gardening Space Saving Tips

When I visited Epcot Center last month, I took a tour of the vertical gardening area and I was very surprised. They are now experimenting with tons of plants that can be grown vertical, saving space and water, so more plants can be grown in the same amount of space.

Vertical Gardening is not really a new concept. The first time I saw a vertical gardening plant was in tomatoes gardening. This was actually upside down vertical gardening, but it solves the problem of having to use a bunch of wire to hold the tomato plants up. The tomatoes gardening vertical concept has now been redesigned into a Revolutionary Planter for Tomatoes and has been improved upon to include a self watering system!

Most vertical gardens don’t grow upside down though. You can grow plants vertically on garden arbors, fences, a trellis, or other structures that make the plant grow upright instead of flowing over the ground.

Many times vertical gardening is used for vines. When growing vines this way, be sure to keep about four inches of mulch at the base of the plant to make sure the soil will retain water in the summer. Vertically-growing plants tend to dry out more quickly than ground flowing plants, so make sure to check them often for watering needs.

At first, you may have to train your plants to grow where you want them to (waterproof twine is good for this), and it may take a few years to get a nice vertical garden growing.

But as you know, you need to be patient when growing vertical gardens, or any other garden. In a few years, or months depending on the plant, you will be an expert in vertical gardening and can start creating shapes and forms that make your garden just that much more interesting.

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Herb Garden How To

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It’s no wonder herb gardening is one of the most popular forms of gardening. Herbs are not only used for flavor while cooking, but some herbs have been used to treat illness. They were even believed to have magical powers.  That’s why many people look for herb garden how to information and get pretty excited about growing an herb garden. That being said, here are a few ideas on growing herb gardens.

Planting Herb Gardens

Before you buy your herb garden seeds, carefully consider what type of herbs you want to plant, and how much room you will allow each herb to take up.  Some herbs are like weeds and will take over everything!

Also think about what types of herbs you will need when growing herb gardens.  Do you want annuals, biennials or perennials? You may have to test what works best for your space, but be sure to address this question and know what you’re buying so you don’t pull out something that would have come back next year.

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Before planting herb gardens, and especially square foot gardens, it’s a good idea to draw your garden on paper first.  Make notes or separate the annuals from the perennials so when the time comes to pull out the annuals, you won’t be disturbing the perennials. 

Many herb garden how to’s recommend planting Perennials on the edge of your garden so you can till it later without disrupting them.

Another thing to remember when planting herb gardens is to plant the taller plants at the back and the shorter ones in front.  Also, provide your herb garden plants with enough space to grow – as we said earlier.

When planting herb gardens, consider planting the more invasive herbs in herb pots. The pots best for herbs are the large containers with three or more outlets for the herbs. Fill the planter up to the first outlet and plant, and then continue filling and planting as you get to the next spaces. Make sure to plant the herbs that requires the most water in the bottom hole, while the variety that requires the least goes in the highest hole.

Herb Garden How To Design Ideas

Here are a few different ways of growing herb gardens:

  • Consider having a square foot garden 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 can be used for climbing herbs.
  • When using herb garden seeds, that wooden ladder can also be laid down on your garden before you begin planting the herb garden, then plant your herbs between its rungs.
  • How about a wagon wheel bed for growing herb gardens? Lay the wagon wheel down and plant your herbs in between the wagon wheel’s wedges. 

Growing Herb Gardens is one of the easiest things to do. But as with other plants, you need to be aware of effective drainage needs, sunlight, humidity or moisture and fertile soil.  But even with just minimally meeting these requirements they will be bound produce a good harvest.

Planting Your Garden: The First Steps

Spring hopefully, is just around the corner and in anticipation you might be getting ready for some planting or pruning action. I know my husband is, he just pruned the roses, which I thought weren’t supposed to be done until March, but he says any time after President’s day is fine (unless you’re in one of those states that keeps getting hit by snow, then you better hold off a little while longer.)

But if you’re in Seattle (like us), or somewhere just a little warmer, now is the time to start your baby seedlings indoors and watch them grow, flourish, and become big and strong enough to take on the outdoors.

You can begin with seeds from a packet or seeds from last year’s harvest, or you can even take the easy road and purchase pre-sprouted seedlings from your local gardening supply shop. Whichever you choose, you’ll be watching over these little darlings in their first days and weeks of tender life, and that’s a precious time for any gardener.

So first of all, make sure that you have a safe, warm area for your seedlings, one which receives at least six hours of sunlight per day and won’t be knocked over by family members or wayward pets. Usually a window ledge or top of a bookshelf will do nicely.

Once you have the spot picked out, it’s time to set up the nesting area.

Ooh, speaking of nesting, if you have problems with birds (or other creatures) outside being where they don’t belong, here’s a site I just found that can take care of that problem. Get Rid of Birds Here.

OK, anyway, back to the PLANT nesting. . .

You can use a variety of containers for seedlings, anything from a black-plastic flat to Dixie cups to egg cartons. Last year Jeff bought a warmed seedling hatchery.  It was a long flat seedling planter that you plugged in and kept the little plants warm.  Worked pretty well!

But if you don’t have one of those, you’ll really be starting from scratch. So here’s what you need to do: Fill your containers with a little gravel in the bottom to assist with drainage and to keep the container from tipping over easily.

Then fill them the rest of the way with soil, and pop in seeds. Moisten each thoroughly, and cover them tightly with plastic wrap. This will help retain warmth and moisture, and quicken their growth.

Now all they need is sunlight, continual gentle moisture, and time. After a few days, or up to a week depending on the type of plant, you should see little sprouts beginning to peek through the soil. At this point you can remove the plastic wrap and say hello to your new precious babies!

If you haven’t gotten your seeds yet, Gardeners Supply still has their sale going on – Free Shipping at Gardeners Supply.

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Lasagna Gardening AKA No-Dig Gardening

Lasagna, or no-dig, gardening is a revolutionary new way to get great-tasting, nutritious vegetables and gorgeous flowers out of your very own backyard, but without ANY back-breaking digging or weeding. It’s so easy, it feels like cheating!

Lasagna gardening got it’s name because it refers to the layering involved in creating this pressure-cooker of organic power. To start up your very own lasagna gardening bed, you can build on top of an established plot or start fresh right on top of untilled earth. Either way, you’re going to need a few supplies, which you might already have if you’re currently doing square foot gardening.

  • a wooden frame for containment
  • fertilizer
  • compost
  • newspapers/cardboard
  • hay/peat moss
  • mulch

and, of course, you’ll still need shovel or fork to pile it all up with.

Now, you’re ready to start layering.

Build or place your containment box wherever it should go. This will keep the ingredients from falling out of your bed and wandering away. It should be about 8-10″ high.

Begin your layers with a slab of cardboard or thick newspaper mat, totally covering up the inside of the box. This will form the base and prevent grass or weeds from growing up into your bed.

On top of this, pile about 4″ of water absorbent organic material like hay, peat moss, or whatever you can find. This will act like a sponge, soaking up extra water and encouraging your plants to grow down into it.

On top of the hay, spread about an inch of fertilizer, or compost if you have plenty. The nutrients here will give your plants exactly what they need to grow big and juicy.

Above that, pile lots of hay or straw, or whatever you’ve chosen for your absorbency layer, -about six or eight inches of it. We’re keeping the moist levels separated, so they can breathe as they break down into rich soil.

On top of that, more fertilizer and more compost, forming a five- or six-inch-deep level of nutrients. Now it’s ready to plant!

Put your seedlings into this rich bed, and then mulch around them to prevent weeds and keep in the moisture. You shouldn’t plant root crops in a new lasagna bed, but plants with shallower roots will be fine. And after it has “cooked” for a year, it will be ready for root veggies as well.

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Avalanche Clematis and Azalea Golden Lights Pictures

Clematis_AzaleaThis time of year I always have to brag about what’s in our garden, specifically our Avalanche Clematis and the Golden Lights Azalea. 

We picked the Azalea up at a nursery about three years ago and it has never disappointed us!  Right now, it’s the perfect plant for our medium container garden setting. The larger container gets to hold another favorite of ours, the Avalanche Clematis.

Both of these plants are doing especially well this year!  They are the perfect plants for late spring color.  And, even though they both lose their flowers after a long blooming period, they both keep beautiful green color on their leaves throughout the summer.

The Golden Lights Azalea seems to last forever.  It blooms slowly, with just a few flowers coming out at first, then it goes into full bloom, as it is in the picture.  Then, the flowers die very slowly, while more flowers continue to bloom.  Overall, I think we get at least two full month of color out of this plant.

The Avalanche Clematis also blooms for a long period of time, but its flowers, for us at least, start out with  just a few, the BURST into a gorgeous plant of white flowers.  They last a long time too – probably as long as the Azalea, if not longer.

I haven’t found the Avalanche Clematis sold on-line lately, but you can find the Golden Lights Azalea at Wayside Gardens, as well as a lot of other types of Clematis – and you should definitely check out plants to get now for your summer garden.

There’s just nothing like having a container garden setting full of color – Good luck with yours!

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Herb Gardening – Inside or Outside

aero growNow that Fall is arriving, I’m going to miss all of the fresh vegetables and herbs that I have been enjoying from the garden this summer. But maybe it doesn’t really have to be that way.

You see, herb gardening has become a very creative outlet for people, and no longer has to be done totally outside, now that Aero Grows’ AeroGarden® Pro-100 has been invented (thank goodnes!)

Before you do anything with herb gardening, decide which herbs to grow. You should thoroughly enjoy the herbs you decide to plant, since most herb plants are easy to grow, require little maintenance, and will reward you with an abundance of herbs! 

Here are some of the herbs we suggest you start with for your herb garden (whether outside or as a container garden). 

  • Strong Herbs – These consist of herbs like winter savory, rosemary and sage (best grown outside).
  • Accent Herbs – like sweet basil, sweet marjoram, tarragon and thyme (OK for inside planting).
  • Herbs for blending – Our favorites – chives, parsley and summer savory (make excellent inside plants).

You can always add a variety of herbs to your garden later on. When growing outside, you can have herbs growing with other vegetables or make a nice container garden with herbs.  You should keep annual and perennial herbs separate. And try adding a little color with attractive, and colorful, herbs like parsley and purple basil.

When you select the site for your herb garden, you should consider the type of soil used and the drainage system. None of the herbs will grow in wet soil; hence drainage becomes an important factor (this is one of the reasons the aerogrow has become so popular – it takes care of all of the drainage problems for you).

If gardening outside, improve the drainage by removing the soil up to a depth of about 15 to 18 inches. Next, place a 3 inch layer of crushed stone or similar material on the bottom of the excavated site. Before placing the soil in the bed area again, you should mix some compost or sphagnum peat and sand with it to lighten the texture. You should add fertilizer if needed.

This same process can be done in your container gardner, just use smaller amounts.  And, here’s a tip I just received from a friend of mine.

If you have a lot of wine corks collected and don’t know what to do with them, use them in the bottom of your container plant in the place of stones.  They make excellent drainage devices. 

Next you need to plant the herb seeds. If possible sow the seeds in shallow boxes in winter. If you want to transplant seedlings outdoors, sow in the spring.

A light, well drained soil is best for starting the seedlings indoors. The finer the seed, the shallower it should be sown.

You may find that you can cut and divide current herbs to re-propagate them.  Cuttings are the best choice when the seeds are slow to germinate. The fresh leaves on the herbs can be picked up as soon as the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth.

To ensure good oil content in your herbs, pick the seeds after the dew has disappeared, and before the sun becomes too hot.


Does Basil Like Dry Soil or will it Wilt?

BasilE1.jpgThere’s nothing better than fresh basil from the garden, of course, I think I say that about everything from the garden, but it’s true!  We just planted some basil and Jeff did an excellent job with it.  He bought the basil that comes in a cup-like container.  When he poured it out of the cup to plant it, he found out that there were a lot of small plants in the cup.  So, instead of planting them all in one hole, like he did with the cilantro, he went through them, separated them into individual plants, and planted a much larger Basil garden then originally intended.  They are doing nicely now, and I think we will have LOTS of Basil for our soups, salads and salsa.
If you plant basil in a container and have it outside in the full sun it may appear to wilt at times.  Even though Basil is an herb, and herbs usually like soil on the drier side, it can sometimes look a little droopy.  There are three factors you should consider when this happens.

  1. Basil is actually an herb that needs a normal amount of water.  If you have a droopy herb, check the soil.  If the soil is dry, and the Basil recovers after watering, than you can be pretty sure you need to water more often.  When you do water, soak the entire root ball, allowing the excess water to drain away.  Check frequently and see how long it takes for the soil to dry, and water again when the soil is dried out.
  2.  If it is very hot, the plant may just be taking a “Siesta” so to speak, and are resting because it is too hot.  Even if you water it at this time, it may not be able to soak up water fast enough to recover from the water it is losing in the sun, and will continue to wilt even after being watered.  You might want to put it in the shade at noon or during the hottest times of the day and see if that helps. 
  3.  Check and see if the Basil is root bound in the container.  If the roots have begun to fill the container, it may need a larger pot and more soil.

Here’s an easy recipe that you can make with your fresh Basil.  It was just introduced to me this year, and I will probably never eat a BLT again.  This is for a BBTA.
Bread, I like to use French Rolls.
Fry or bake the bacon; toast the rolls in the oven with a little butter.  Then just layer on the Bacon, Basil, Avocado ant Tomato and Enjoy!

 If you need seeds or Gardening supplies, visit Main Street Supply and Seed.