Friday, March 28, 2014

How to Prune a Tree

It is important for homeowner gardeners to know how to prune trees. Tree pruning is meant to remove unwanted branches. This process is done carefully in order to avoid the destruction of the tree's trunk. The skillful gardener should prune right from the trunk-branch nodes. They should ensure that all pruning cut starts should be conducted on the stem collar.


Pruning from the stem collar is important because it protects growing stems and branches that are not supposed to be cut. Similarly, this will give the tree a chance to regain its shape after trimming the unwanted branches. The gardener should pay close attention when pruning large branches so that they protect the destruction of the bark and wood of the stem.

The following step by step procedure is quite useful if one intends to prune trees:

First and foremost, locate where the underside of the stem collar is found. Then, craft a tiny wedge-shaped cut directly on the underside of the branch of the tree. This small cut ensures that the bark is broken loose at that position in order to prevent a tear from penetrating to the stem tissue.

Second, cut all the way via the whole branch. Make sure that you leave on a stub end. This step should start from the topmost part of the branch. It is a procedural step that enables one to cut the branch cautiously to avoid destroying the tissue cells of the tree. The tissue is needed in the growth of new cells.

Third, the gardener should make another cut parallel to and directly on the stem branch side of the collar of the trunk. This intended to minimize the length of stub to a large extent.

In the case of a large branch and stem, a drop crotch cut is made. The above procedure is also applied in this scenario. The first notch cut is made on the underpart of the branch you are pruning. The second cut is made through the branch from the interior of part of the crotch up from the edge the bark of the two branches being pruned. The final step involves making a third cut at one part of the branch bark ridge and approximately parallel to it. This is meant to shorten the remaining stub.

The best time for tree pruning is during the dormant season or winter. This period will minimize sap loss and fungus infection to the tree. However, dead branches can be removed at any given moment.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sigh. We've all been there.




Haven't we?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lessons Children Can Learn Out of Gardening

By Roger Peter

Submitted via our Submit An Article page.



My children enjoy working in the garden. They like to plant seeds and then watch them grow into sunflowers, tomatoes, peaches, and even pears. It is something they have grown up with. They watched their grandfather plant his vegetable garden and their grandmother her flowers and when they were old enough, they were allowed to help. They enjoy seeing the fruits of their labor and eating the delicious fruit grown on the trees on the family farm.

Understanding Responsibility

It’s important that children are allowed to help in the garden for a number of reasons and even the smallest child should be included. Younger children can help dig holes, place seeds in the ground, and then help cover them up. Older children can help fill a watering can and then gently sprinkle the newly planted seeds to help them begin to grow. Make sure you label what you just planted so you don’t forget what’s growing. Once your seeds start to sprout show your children how to weed around the plants. Explain to them that some plants don’t belong in a garden and that it’s important to remove them so their flowers grow up healthy and strong. Teach your children responsibility as they continue to care for their plants and flowers. Make sure they keep them watered.

Connecting With Nature

Second, children will learn to connect with nature. Even if you don’t have a large amount of space you can still plant lettuce and tomatoes in pots on your porch. Show them where food begins. Explain to them that when a farmer plants a seed, it produces many of the foods they eat. Every child should know that meat is not born from a container at the grocery store or that milk doesn’t come from a bottle on the shelf. This is especially important if you are living in an urban area that doesn’t contain a lot of green space.

Many types of garden plants and flowers will attract birds and butterflies to your garden. Hummingbirds are drawn to any type of tubular flower but especially those that are red in color. Monarch butterflies feed exclusively on milkweed so planting this is sure to attract them as they travel on their migratory path. Your local garden shop can certainly give advice on which native plants to plant in your area.

Learning about the Circle of Life

Children will also learn that life has a cycle. They will see that from seeds come flowers and that after those flowers bloom they will turn brown, wilt and then die. It’s a lesson we all learn in time but when you teach it with beautiful flowers, the lesson doesn’t seem quite so harsh.

A lot can be learned when you put a rake or a shovel in the hands of a child. Hand powered garden tools and supplies for children can be purchased at any hardware store.

There are so many more things that children can learn out of gardening. Like learning to protect nature, nurturing, appreciation for beauty and understanding of & respect for the circle of life. These important lessons cannot be learned by sitting in front of television or the computer. So if you have not already done so, take the initiative and start giving your children some handy gardening lessons.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mail Order Plants



Many people order their seeds from catalogs because they cannot find the types of seeds they need in their local area. If you are thinking of ordering your seeds from a catalog this year, then you should plan now to start getting the right ones ordered.

Step one is to order the catalogs you want. Check online for lists of gardening catalogs or ask your gardening friends. You also can look in gardening magazines for advertisements. Although there are scores of catalogs available, you should order only the ones that you think may be of interest. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, then Awesome Tropical Seeds will not do you any good. Stay away; it only will serve to give you too many choices.

Once the catalog arrives, you will need to pick out the plants. Now you probably will notice that these plants are fairly pricy. That is because they are special-order plants. You are paying for the fact that they are not in your local area and for the additional care that must be taken in shipping these plants. Still you can rest assured that the plants you order through the mail are well taken care of, so you do not need to worry about their quality as much as if you were purchasing cheap from a retailer.

When the plants arrive, you will need to take care to open them and get them started growing immediately. You should look at the amount of time the plants take to ship so that you can try to time your order with the time you will be able to plant the seeds or seedlings that you have ordered. If you end up with the plants too early, then you will need to purchase containers to put them in before you even open the box. Remember that the plants are very delicate but are protected while they are in the box. Keep them that way until you are ready to move them. This prep time should not take more than a day or so, however, as the plants are not intended to survive in the box for long.

When you are ready, remove the lid from the box carefully. A leaf or two may fall out, but the bulk of the plant should remain intact. In fact, you should find that each plant is in a separate container or hole in the box and that the plants all have labels on them. If they do not have labels, after saying mean things about the seed company, you should get a catalog and compare the pictures with your invoice. Make sure that you can tell what each plant is before getting it out. Otherwise call the customer service line for the catalog company to ask for help.

The plant most likely will have a little tag with the name. If you are getting tiny rooted plants, then you should be able to tuck the tag underneath the plant. That will work best for getting each plant out, so try to find a way to get the tag underneath the plant roots quickly. They will hold the roots and compost together while you are in the process of transferring the plants.

Next you will need to put the plant in its home, whether that is your yard or a small plant in your home. If you will be moving the plant again, be careful that you will be able to transplant it. Otherwise you should be good to go once you get the plant in its new home. Put some fertilizer or compost in with the plant and water it. Remove any dead or dying leaves now so that they do not contaminate the remainder of the plant.

Now you can sit back and enjoy. Be sure that you mark which companies sent great seeds and seedlings and which did not. You will want to know where you got the plants next year so that you can order from the same companies again and avoid the ones with less flattering plants. You will need to begin ordering new catalogs each year so that you can plan for your seeds and seedlings each winter.

Planning a Basic Urban Garden



Building an urban garden is becoming a trend in cities all across the United States. If you live in an apartment, gone are the days when you thought you could not have a garden simply because you did not live in a house. Instead, now you have the option to have all types of gardening choices available to you, but you will need to do some basic research to make sure what you are doing is acceptable.

First, you should check with regulations regarding urban gardens. Some urban areas permit gardeners to grow any types of plants they would like while others limit the types of plants. You may be able to have only perennials or annuals, for instance, as there may be seasonal restrictions. You also may discover that you are not allowed plants that will grow over a certain height or that some types, such as herbs, are prohibited altogether.

In addition to your city, you should check with your apartment or condominium association. Chances are that they have their own restrictions based on the desires of the majority of the tenants. Certain plants may be banned because of their unsightly appearance or because of their likelihood to cause allergies. Whatever the restrictions, it is best that you adhere to them so that you do not find yourself with massive fines for ignoring basic laws.

Once you have figured out the rules, it is time to begin planning your own urban garden. Some people may want to have just one or two plants dotting the balcony while others want to grow an assortment. You may grow plants inside or outside in an urban garden, and you can work to create the best environment for your plants regardless of the location.

Your best bet if you are planning an indoor urban garden is to go with unique containers. Because you have little room in an apartment, you will want to make everything possible do double-duty. That means that a beautiful tin that you have can be painted and used to hold flowers or that you can use accent pieces to complement your decorating style and to grow your flowers. Be sure that you have curtains that are easy to tie back if you intend to use sunlight for your urban garden.

Outside urban gardeners will want to consider the same factors as other gardeners, such as the weather. Be sure that your selected plants will grow in your climate zone. If you are unsure of your climate zone, you can look this information up at your local library or online fairly easily. Knowing the correct climate zone will help guarantee that you choose plants that will thrive, which will make the experience all the more pleasant.

The best thing about having a garden is that you can enjoy the plants you create. In an urban garden, that means that you do not want a lot of plants because you will not have the space to enjoy them. Be sure that you pick an area where you can put plants a couple of feet apart so that you can enjoy each one of them instead of putting them so close together that you will not be able to see each plant.

Also think about the colors of your skyline or city when you are planning your urban garden. Some balconies overlook playgrounds or swimming pools. Try to pick flowers that will blend in the background of your view so that they will seem to create a seamless move from your home to the rest of the world.

Finally when you are planning an urban garden, give real consideration to how much time you have to devote to your plants and keep that in mind when you are getting plants. Some require little care, and if you work 70 hours a week, you need those plants. If you have a more leisurely pace, then you probably can get something that will need more of your attention. Remember that you are not limited by being in urban area. You simply need to make sure that you are able to think creatively about the type of plants you will be able to have in your garden plot.

Planting A Tin Can Garden



The first year I planted a garden, I used containers for the veggies. For some, it worked well, but for others, it was not the best idea. Still I like the idea of using the containers. Instead of purchasing them, I used containers I already had on hand. We kept any tin containers we used, such as coffee tins and ones with baby formula.

While I was proud of my little garden, it did not look so exciting. The cans started to get bent and a little rusted by the end of the summer. Later I stumbled on a great idea for a way to use the tin can idea in your garden but to make it look better. This idea is so wonderful and simple that it is something I intend to employ in my garden next year.

First note that this idea is intended for flower gardening and not vegetable gardening. You are looking for short-root plants to use for this little tin can garden. You could try doing herbs, and they probably would work because many of them have small root systems. The only problem with using the tin can garden for herbs is that you need to be able to reach your herbs easily to cut them.

At any rate, gather all of the tin cans you find, including ones used for canned vegetables. When you use the cans, you should wash them thoroughly at that time and turn them upside down to dry. Then you will need to go ahead and remove the labels from the can. If you do it before you wash the cans, then you can use the water to run over the labels and remove them better. If you feel the need to remove them completely, then you can try Goof-Off or another similar product to get the label glue off. Put the cans away until time for you to begin putting your garden together.

Once it is time for the garden, you will need to purchase a piece of wood. Plywood is recommend and will work well with this idea. Make sure that you are using a pressed sheet or the flat side and paint it using any exterior paint. You can do a solid color, pattern, scene, or whatever strikes you.

Next you will use a hammer and nail to put a small puncture hole in the bottom of the can. This hole will serve as drainage for your tin can garden. Next you will need metal snippers. Cut the top of the can off completely and cut a line straight down the center of the can. Use the snippers to go around half of the bottom part of the can and remove half of the bottom.

You will need to use pliers to fold out the sides of the can where there is no bottom. Then get the snippers out again and cut a V into each side. Put the can flat on the plywood with the side with the remaining bottom facing out. Once you have determined where each of the cans will go, you can put a tintack, two on each side, in the cans to hold them in place.

Once you have the cans in place, your garden is ready to begin planting. You will be able to put potting soil and plant seeds in the tins you have used to create your tin garden. If you know a vine or small climbing plant that grows in your area and has small roots, that may be perfect for this type of garden.

You will be able to rest the tin can garden against the side of your house or in another area where it will be seen. What you are doing is not permanent, which works well if you are in a temporary setting, and you will be able to enjoy it all season. The best part is that the entire garden is pretty cheap, especially considering you are probably using cans you already purchased, so redoing it in years to come will not seem so bad. Try out different types of flowers with this garden to see what works so that you can create a cool tin can garden for your yard this year.

Use Mexican Painted Pots for Your Container Garden

Planning a container garden is a great way to have more garden with little space or to create a movable garden. These gardens will be able to go wherever they work best at a given time or place. Perhaps you want a plant on the front porch this year but will move it to the deck next year of even for the Independence Day party you are planning. If you have a container garden, then you want to try to make your containers interesting. While you can use basic metal cans, such as coffee cans, you also may want to spruce them up, no pun intended, so that your containers are as much of a discussion point and provide as much aesthetic appeal as the plants themselves.



One way to create cool containers is to use this basic painting technique to make Mexican painted pots. (Those of you who are less creative can do a toned-down version of this plan. Just skip the last step.) You will need terra cotta pots of any size although you may want to plan out the plants before you buy. For the complete gardening novice, terra cotta pots are those basic orange clay pots you see everywhere. They are super-cheap, which is why they are so popular, and they actually are pretty durable little pots for your plants.

You also will need to go to a craft store and pick up some brushes of various sizes. You probably can get a basic set of brushes for a few dollars. Just make sure that you have them ranging from brush heads that are an inch or so down to the tiniest 1/16 of an inch brushes. You also should get white undercoat; be sure that the bottle says it works for exterior use. Then you will need gouache paint, which is better than your basic craft paint and will withstand being outdoors. Get the colors that excite you the most; they mostly come in very bright choices. Finally you will need a polyurethane matt varnish and some masking tape (cheap is fine) for your pots.

Whew! Now that you have the supplies, it is time to get down to business. You should put the pots out in an area where you can paint. Put newspaper under them so that you do not make a mess. Once you are set up, you should put the masking tape in strips around the pots. If you get different widths of the tape, you can create more variation; another way to get the difference is to cut the masking tape strips so that some are narrower than the roll.

Once you have several circles with the tape, you will need to use your widest brush and paint the entire pot (masking tape and all) with the white undercoat. Allow the undercoat to dry and use brushes that are roughly the width of each section not covered with the masking tape. Paint each adjacent section and different color and allow the paint to dry. Then you should take off the masking tape to reveal the rings that are still terra cotta.

Use the fine brushes and undercoat to create little designs, such as stripes, polka dots, and stars in the painted sections. (This step would be the one you skip if you want something plain.) Once the undercoat dries, cover the pot with the varnish and allow it to sit for a day before using it for planting.

If you do not want the terra cotta stripes, you can try variations, such as painting the entire pot with the undercoat or a light hue of the gouache paint before you begin. Then you will get that color as your base. Just be sure that you allow each coat of paint to dry completely before you move on, or you will end up with the colors running together.

These pots are a great way to get your container garden started. They work particularly well with cacti, which are desert plants. The motif of the Mexican painted plants will go well together, and if you want to add more flavor, try putting the plants over a Mexican-themed throw rug when you display them.

The Most Common Containers for Gardening



Most people who have any type of garden have containers. They may not realize it or use the term container gardening, but they almost always have some type of container in their garden, yard, or home that is used for planting. When you use the term, however, many people struggle to understand exactly what container gardening is and how they begin one.

Container gardening simply means that instead of planting seeds or bulbs into the ground, you will be planting them in a container. Then you will be taking care of individual plants, or in some cases a small row of plants, but you will not be working to take care of an entire garden of plants. Some people choose to plant in containers because they do not have enough space. Others love tulips and want some in the living room, so they opt for a small barrel of tulips for the inside. Still others use everything they can to plant because they love the smells and sights of gardening.

You can use almost any type of container for gardening as long as you clean it out thoroughly before you begin. Let us cover some of the most common containers, however, so that you can get an idea of your options. Terra cotta window boxes are probably the most common type of container. You also will see single plant terra cotta plant holders. Terra cotta is the orange clay-like substance used to make the most basic of planting containers. The benefit of these containers is that they are versatile and are made for plants. You can find them painted or paint them yourself. The downside of using terra cotta window boxes is that some of them do not hold up well in very cold temperatures, which means that you really should stick to using them inside.

Wooden window boxes also are an interesting container that you can buy ready-made for planting. The plus of these containers is that they permit you to paint or otherwise decorate them. Because their look is basic, they work with almost any scheme you have for planting. The disadvantage is that the pieces may splinter and need to be repaired or replaced.

For people with a little more in their container gardening budget, a stone trough will work. These troughs look like the terra cotta window boxes, but they hold up in the outside much better. In fact, they are made to be outdoors and often are used as decorative borders. These troughs are very expensive, though, and are heavy, so once you get them in place, you probably will want to leave them.

Some people are more creative with their containers and use baskets that they already have. These baskets can work really well with the right kind of plants. You will need to line the basket, probably with some type of moss, so that you can create a more solid bottom. You also will have to keep the plants in individual pots and remove them when you want to water them. You cannot water plants in the basket because the basket will rot. If you like the baskets, though, you will enjoy being able to move them when need be as they are very light and easy to change around.

Many gardeners love the fiber window boxes that are gaining in popularity. They are a little odd but look best with colorful annuals. These boxes look almost as if they belong in the ground instead of on top of it. They are dirt-colored and look from afar as if they are covered in dirt. The very plain design and color is why you need to use them with colorful flowers instead of non-flowering plants. You will need to replace them frequently as they do not last long.

Finally you can try galvanized tin, such as that in foot tubs and washtubs. You will need to drill holes in the bottom, which can be a pain, but otherwise you should be able to create a cool looking plant garden in one of these containers. While they once were seen only as utilitarian, now these tin troughs and tubs can serve a creative purpose as well.