Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dried Flowers (By 4Ernesto)

What and when to collect
- Collecting flowers for drying draws attention to many beauties of nature that might otherwise be overlooked. The collector should not wait till summer, with its profusion of blooms, but must be ready to observe and select from springtime's earliest offerings of pussy willow and daffodil.
- The flower garden of course, will supply choice specimens throughout the growing season until frost takes the last little chrysanthemum. But beyond the garden gate this delightful hobby leads you into fields and woods in search decorative shapes, colours, and textures. The lowly milkweed's pod is lined with gold and sumac's torch of crimson berries may be just the right accent needed for striking dried arrangements. In the foliage and berries of autumn you will find that there is much colour to be harvested. A profusion of lovely materials for drying, both flowers and foliage, is to be found in the florist shops at all seasons of the year.
- The hobby of drying flowers enhances the discoveries of travelling. A collector scans new scenes more closely for unusual materials not obtainable at home. Such non-perishable oddities as tornillo pods or cotton pods are brought back from a tip for a double purpose; they give novelty to dried arrangements and serve as mementos too.

Methods of drying
- Flowers and foliage must be died separately and by different methods
- Small compact blooms usually dry well by the old-fashioned technique of hanging. Flowers with large or intricately shaped petals, or heads that must be supported in place during drying, need the silica gel, meal and borax, perlite or sand and borax treatment.
- For foliage too, there is a choice of methods. Leaves pressed between weighted newspapers or magazines will keep their colouring of both summer green or autumnal red and yellow, but will dry flat and brittle. Another process of treating leaves is with glycerine and water, one that will preserve both flexibility and three-dimensional arrangement but usually at the sacrifice of colour stability.
- Grasses can be dried standing upright in a container, thereby bending in a natural curve, or they may be hung by the stems in a bunch.
- Choose the method that promises best results for the material that you have chosen.

1. Hanging Method
- Many flowers dry well by this extremely simple process. If you are too busy, or lack space for other methods, you can easily hang them and still have lovely material for winter bouquets. Flowers used in the beautiful arrangements in the exhibition buildings of Colonial Williamsburg are all dried in this manner and are in keeping with the custom practiced in that era.
- Tie flowers in loose bunches and hang heads down until they are dry. Space is saved by using a wire coat hanger from which several bunches of flowers may be suspended. To tie and hang the flowers easily, wind an elastic band several times around the stems, loop it over the wire of the hanger and catch it again in ends of the stems. The bunches can be removed easily with a slight jerk or pull.

2. Surrounding and Covering Method
- This is a more complicated method in which flower heads are surrounded and covered by a medium that holds the petals and other parts of the flower in place during dehydration. For this purpose there is a choice of materials that may be used. These are silica gel, meal and borax, perlite, and sand and borax.
- The most perfect results are obtained with the silica gel; however, there are the other mediums that may be used. Meal and borax are very satisfactory and dry all flowers extremely well. Perlite, or sand and borax, also bring good results.
- The general principle of dehydration is the same no matter which of the mediums you choose to use, but the silica gel must be handled quite differently as its affinity for moisture makes it imperative that it be kept in an airtight container at all times.

Preparing the Flowers
- All flowers, unless other wise noted, should be cut when they first come into full bloom. It is safest, of course, to dry them immediately but if this is not convenient and they have been well conditioned, it will do no harm to delay dehydration for a short time. To condition, place flowers in deep, slightly tepid water overnight or for at least five or six hours.
- If drying must be delayed for several days, flowers should be kept in the refrigerator. In extreme cases it will often be possible to keep them fresh for a much longer period by means of the following method. Make sure that there is no dew or other moisture on any part of the flower. Immediately after cutting put the flowers in a large plastic bag and twist the end, secure it with an elastic band to be certain that it is made airtight and place the bag in the refrigerator. The flowers will then remain fresh for as long as two weeks without ever having been in water. After removing these from the refrigerator recut ends of stems diagonally and condition the flowers in warm water. This no doubt sounds fantastic but try it and see!
- When gathering flowers or other plant material any distance fro home, place them in a small amount of water (exception: glycerine-treated leaves) to keep fresh in transit. If this is not possible and you find that they have wilted somewhat before you reach home, they may very often be revived as follows; flowers such as peonies, roses, dogwood, chrysanthemums and others that have hard or woody stems should be put in hot water in a metal container and left until the water has cooled. First recut the stem ends and crush slightly. Flowers with soft stems, daffodils, for instance, should be put in warm water because they cannot take much heat.
- Before drying, be sure to remove, or dry thoroughly, the wet part of the stem. Also see that there is no moisture on any part of the flower. Strip all foliage from flowers that are to be dried.

Substitute stems
- When drying flowers that have no stems of their own, such as hollyhocks that are pinched from the stalk as blossoms bloom and strawflowers that are usually picked very close to the head, a substitute stem must be made before drying. Insert a piece of florist wire into the back of the flower. During dehydration the flower will shrink around the wire, holding it firmly in place. We also add stems to any flowers that require it, after they have dried.

Where to dry
- A dry, dark, warm place should be used for the drying. Attics, closets or hot furnace rooms are ideal but never a garage or an ordinary basement because of the dampness.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Building a Cold Frame and a Hot Bed

Hot beds and cold frames are both used for seeding and growing vegetables, flowers, and ornamental pants for your home and garden. Hot beds are used for starting plants from seeds and cold frames temper or harden the new plants to outdoor conditions before they are transplanted. This ensures that they have a good chance to grow outdoors. Actually, the same frame can serve both purposes, the main difference between the two being hot beds use an artificial heat source and cold frames do not.

Traditionally, hot beds and cold frames were built flush with or slightly below ground level, and then covered by glass sash. Today, these frames are built often completely above ground and covered with plastic because film is generally available at cheaper cost than is glass.

Frames and Their Location

Hot beds and cold frames should always be built on well-drained soil that is completely free from flood during the heaviest rains. A location with a southern exposure and good wind protection on the north and west sides is perfect. Also locate your frames close to water and heat sources.

Frame Size

Almost any size frame can be heated with electricity, but most hot beds are 5 to 6 feet wide by 6 to 12 feet long. The proper size depends on planting requirements, plant species, number of plants and their spacing. If a glass sash will be used to cover the frame, then the length of the frame is usually in multiples of 3 feet; however, plastic coverings do not limit dimensions at all, because plastic comes in rolls that can be cut to size.

Construction Materials

Most frames are built with wooden sidewalls, but permanent beds can be made of poured concrete or masonry blocks used as a base. Wooden walls and supports should be painted or treated with copper napthenate, but not creosote or pentachlorophenol, because both are harmful to plants.

Sashes and Covers

Excavate a hot bed area 8 inches deep. After walls are built, apply 6 inches of gravel or coarse sand for drainage. Add a layer of burlap or other coarse material to prevent sand from sifting down. Add a 2-inch layer of sand on which to place heating cables. Two more inches of sand should be applied over the heating cables and the sand covered with 1/2 inch hardware cloth to protect the cables. Next, fit either propagating medium (potting soil, etc) or flats over the hardware cloth.

Build the back or north walls 18 inches above the level at which the heating cable is placed. This is important. Sidewalls usually slope toward the front about 1 inch per foot of width and a 6-foot wide bed will be 12 inches high in front. The footer for concrete or block walls must be placed below the frost line. This is also very important. Nail a 1 x 4 inch board to the outside top edge of the back and side walls. The sashes extend over the edge of the front wall to slough away water.

The boards serve as weather-stripping and reduce heat loss between the s and sashes. Next, bank soil up against the outside walls to prevent air leakage. The sash or plastic-covered frames, can be hinged at the back, and lifted in front and braced open for ventilation.

Above Ground Beds

Above ground units can be of form from an arch, an A-frame, all the way to a to a Quonset design, with the structure made of wood or thin-wall electrical conduit. These frames are inexpensive to build and easy to construct. They are covered with 4-mil thick, clear polyethylene plastic film designed to be rolled down the ridge or up the sides to allow for adequate ventilation.


Although steam, hot water, and manure heat hot beds, most gardeners use electric cables. A thermostat is needed to control the temperature in the bed. Although heating cables operate on 240 or 120 volts, beds of 10 feet or less can be operated on a 120-volt system. One 60-foot long cable is required for a 6 x 6 foot bed and two 60-foot cables are used for a 6 x 12 foot bed. The cables should be arranged carefully in the beds. Cables and thermostats are available from mail order, hardware outlets, and garden supply centers.

Using the Beds and Frames

A soil temperature of 70 to 75 degrees F is required for germinating most seeds. After germination, you need to adjust the temperature to suit the particular plant. Cool-season crops such as lettuce, cabbage, and cauliflower require daytime air temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees F. Warm-season crops like tomatoes, peppers, and melons need an air temperature of 65 to 75 degrees F. Night temperatures are usually 5 to 10 degrees F lower than daytime requirements.
If the air temperature in the bed goes above 85 degrees F, ventilation will be necessary. The beds require ventilation on all mild, sunny days. Electrically heated beds tend to dry the growing medium fast, and attention to watering is mandatory. The soil should be kept moist at all times, but not wet. Remember to apply water in the morning so the plant foliage will dry before evening.

Cold Frames

A cold frame is a great natural way to harden off seedlings started indoors or in a hot bed. By hardening off we mean preparing them for harsher conditions outside beyond the greenhouse. Cold frames collect sunlight and provide protection and ventilation at once, and are considered the halfway houses for young plants before they move out into the garden.

You can start hardening plants as early as four to six weeks before your growing zone is cleared frost-free. A cold frame therefore extends the vegetable growing season. Closed, you can also use it as a part-time greenhouse, and with the top open or removed, as an extra vegetable or flowerbed.

Another, cheaper alternative to building the wood and glass or plastic cold frame is the option to put together a simple, old-fashioned structure from bales of hay and an sturdy old window. Use just four rectangular bales of hay and an unbroken window frame with the glass still intact. Then arrange the hay bales to form a square with a space left in the center that can be covered by laying the window frame flat on top of the hay bales.

The hay will provide insulation while the window frame will let in daylight and sunshine. When it is sunny, it is important to prop the window open with a brick or a rock to provide adequate ventilation, or your plants will cook. Water the plants according to seed instructions.

Christmas Trees in the Midwest

The proper choice of a species of plant, including Christmas Trees is important. Unless an appropriate choice is made, a lot of time and money can be lost if you want to plant trees on your property.

A number of considerations should be reviewed: 1. your preferences, 2. the characteristics of different species, 3. the characteristics of lands to be planted, 4. trees, and their growing requirements, 5. the presence of any damaging agents, and 5. nearness to sales outlets.

Your tree preferences can vary considerably from one area to another, influenced by the type of tree you have used previously perhaps. Plantation-grown trees became generally available in Ohio, native species such as white pine were often used for Christmas trees in central, and northern parts of the state, and the eastern red cedar or the Virginia pine were common in warmer areas.

Large numbers of balsam fir, white spruce, and black spruce imported from Canada have been a hit in Ohio. As large quantities of plantation-grown trees became more available, the more traditional preferences went by the wayside. More emphasis has been placed on characteristics of different imported and native tree species grown on from plantations. Leaf color, needle length, needle retention, stem shape, and density are among the vital consideration influencing a final choice for your Christmas trees.

Choosing a tree that will survive and thrive in a particular area is a vitally important issue and often very difficult to decide. A combination of soil characteristics, topography, climate factors, and biotic agencies dominant in an area constitute the specific "site factors" of that area of property. The combination of these factors, along with the ecological requirements of each particular species, must be carefully considered in order to ensure successful establishment, survival, and growth of Christmas Trees.

In the Midwest, an evaluation of site factors in relation to ecological species requirements can be difficult because of the variations in soil, topography, and climate conditions that are associated with changes in latitude, in addition to large variations in soil conditions in different parts of a state.

Christmas Tree growers should also seek professional forestry advice from service and consulting foresters, the Soil Conservation Service, or local county agricultural extension agents. Tremendous help is also available form visiting Christmas Tree farms and talking with their growers about their experiences with different species of Christmas Trees on different sites.

The presence of damaging agents should be particularly considered when choosing a species to plant in a specific area of property. These considerations should include the effects of local and seasonal insects and diseases, but also factors that include winter hardiness, susceptibility to spring frost damage, and any likely ice and snow breakage, as well as sensitivity to air pollutants. All these things can destroy your Christmas Trees. The following are some recommendations for pines and spruces that will grow well in Ohio and other parts of the Midwest USA. Check your local nursery or library for additional information.

The needles of pines come in bundles of two or more along the tree twigs and are long in comparison to those of spruces, true firs, and Douglas firs. Nutrient and water requirements are a bit less exacting than for most of those trees as well. Because of this, pines are usually adapted to a wider variety of sites, and needle retention on these cut trees is excellent, with very little needle drop.

Scotch Pine
Scotch pine is a two- needled pine native to Europe and Asia, widely planted and most extensively used as a Christmas Tree in Ohio and the Midwest. There is considerable genetic variability in the species foliage color, needle length, stem straightness and growth rate. Seedlings raised from seed from southern France and Spain are best for Ohio, although foliage of those from Spain may be injured by winter drying (winter burn). Trees from other southern and western portions of Europe, such as Scotland, Greece, and Turkey also do well. They have short needles, an adequate growth rate, and attractive green or blue-green winter foliage.

Scotch pine prefers moist, well-drained soil but grows on sites ranging from dry to moderately wet. Scotch pine requires considerable shaping to produce high quality trees, but shearing works well. Depending on site characteristics and cultural practices, 6- to 7-foot Christmas Trees can be produced in just six to nine years. Troublesome pests include sawflies, European pine shoot moth, white pine weevil, spotted pine needle aphid, pales weevil, northern pine weevil, Nantucket pine tip moth, mites, Diplodia tip blight and needle casts, among others.

White Pine
Eastern white pine is a five- needled pine native to southern Canada, the Great Lake States, and the eastern United States, including Ohio, south to the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia. Seedlings raised from seed from southern portion of the species range have longer, bluer-green needles and better second-year needle retention. Their branches are thin and flexible, and trees usually require heavy shearing to produce high quality trees.

White pine prefers moist, well-drained soil but will grow in dry to wet land. It is more tolerant of wet soils than Scotch pine, but trees on wet land may suffer white pine root decline. Fertility requirements are slightly higher than those of Scotch pine, but not as high as spruces, true firs, or Douglas firs. 6- to 7-foot Christmas Trees can be produced in six to nine years.

Pests of the eastern white pine include white pine weevil, sawflies, bark aphids, needle aphids, pine tube moth, white pine blister rust, and white pine root decline. White pine is also susceptible to injury by air pollution, including sulfur dioxide, ozone, and fluorides. Damage from air pollution may range from extreme stunting of growth to death of all or parts of the needles. It may result in mild yellowing of foliage. If white pine foliage gets wet, its needles clump together, decreasing the feathery beauty of the tree. Needles will regain their natural appearance when drying.

Other Pines
Austrian or black pine and red pine were grown extensively for Christmas Trees in the past. These species are difficult to shape into Christmas trees and growers prefer Scotch and white pines. Austrian pine is still produced for live ornamental sales, with moisture requirements similar to those of Scotch pine. Its nutrient requirements are much higher and it grows well in soils with a high pH (acidic). Austrian pine is also resistant to salt and air pollution.

Southwestern white or border pine is planted in limited quantities by Christmas Tree growers in the Midwest. It is a five-needled pine, similar to eastern white pine, but has shorter needles that are usually retained for two or more years. Limbs are stiffer and the site requirements to produce quality trees are not well established.

Spruce needles grow singly along twigs and are relatively short and sharp-pointed. Needle retention on cut trees varies, but is not as good as on pines. Although most species of spruce prefer moist, well-drained soils with good fertility, they grow on sandy soils if there is a good water table through the growing season. Growth of most spruces is not as good on poorly drained clay soils.

Spruces undergo a slow period of establishment growth after planting, after which growth is usually rapid. Although the basic form of most trees is good, some shearing is needed. Most spruces are subject to spring frost injury if they leaf out early and low-lying sites (frost pockets) should be avoided.

Colorado Spruce
Colorado or blue spruce is a native of the western United States but is planted as a Christmas Tree in Ohio. Needles are longer than those of Norway and white spruces and are very sharp-pointed. Although foliage on some is a bright bluish color, most seedlings are green to blue-green. This characteristic is somewhat related to seed source and trees produced from seed originating in the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico are preferred for Christmas trees.

Needle retention on cut trees is better than for white and Norway spruces and almost as good as that of pines. Growth is usually slower than that of Norway and white spruces. Moreover, 8 to 12 years are required to produce 6- to 7-foot trees. Sawflies, gall aphids, spider mites, white pine weevil, Cytospora canker, and Rhizosphaera needlecast are the major pests affecting this tree.

Norway Spruce
Norway spruce is a native of Europe and one of the most widely planted Christmas Trees in Ohio. Temperatures in most of the state are suitable, and it is generally easier to establish than any of the other spruces. A rotation of 7 to 11 years is needed to produce 6- to 7-foot trees on good sites. However, needle retention on cut Norway spruce is very poor and sales and planting of it have declined. To minimize needle drop, cutting should be delayed as long as possible. Pests of the Norway spruce include gall aphids, white pine weevil, spider mites, Cytospora canker, and Rhizosphaera needlecast.

White Spruce
White spruce is native to the northern US and Canada. The needles are whitish or bluish and while needle retention is not as good as among pines, it is generally better than for Norway spruce. However, like Norway spruce, trees cutting should be delayed as long as possible. Eight to 11 years are required to produce 6 to 7-foot trees on relatively good sites. Gall aphids, spider mites, and Rhizosphaera needlecast are major pests for white spruce.

Other Spruces
There are a number of other spruces used for Christmas Trees. Red spruce and black spruce were used in the past, but their site requirements are more demanding than those of Norway, white and blue spruce, and red and black spruce.

Several European and Asiatic spruces are promising, but have not been fully tested and cannot be recommended. One species for which information is available is the Serbian spruce, a native of southern Europe with soft needles that are dark green above and bluish below. Its branches are limber, often giving trees a droopy appearance. Site requirements are similar to those of the Norway spruce. Growth, however, begins later in spring than the Norway spruce and Serbian spruce is not as likely to be damaged by late spring frost. However, needle retention on cut trees is poor.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Starting Perennials from Seeds

By Christina VanGinkel

Garden nurseries were not always as convenient to find as they are in today's world. Not that far in the past, the closest thing to a nursery at all was likely your neighbor who had a green thumb and was willing to share both their garden seedlings and their knowledge, or possibly a few racks of plants at the hardware store downtown. So where did everyone get all their beautiful flowers, even their perennials, if they did not have the luxury of buying them? They used their gardening skills to start their own plants from the seeds they harvested, or were given, including their perennials.

This often took much more planning than if they could just pick up these same plants in a store or nursery as we often do today. Planted in an inappropriate spot could mean the death of the plant and doing without, as it was not so easy to replace a plant as it is today. It also took much less money than it does the way so many gardeners buy their perennials today. Just imagine the cost of a couple perennial plants, then times that by how many the average small garden has in it. If you happen to have the luxury of living on a couple of acres and have a large garden or even two on the property, the cost savings quickly multiply and makes one realize just how cost effective growing your own perennials from seedlings you start yourself can be. It then becomes apparent why so many gardeners still begin their own plants whenever they can.

Add to this scenario the fact that with perennials, while you will still have upkeep and will need to replace plants occasionally, after you have your garden started, you will have less work each spring as far as planting goes.

To grow your own perennials from seeds, you will need to harvest them from your existing plants or from those of willing friends and family, or buy the seeds (much less expensive than buying the plants).

Once you have the seeds for the perennials you would like to grow, you should plan where in your garden you are going to place the plants to grow and flourish. While you can certainly transplant them to other places later on, knowing where in your garden you want them to live can save you the step of transplanting them later on. As many perennials have touchy root systems, not taking well to being dug up and transplanted, this just makes sense. If you do wish to begin your seeds in containers and place them into your garden in their desired spots later, (or if you plan to share your perennial seedlings with others) be kind to their root systems and start them in peat pots, which you can pop right into the ground with the seedlings intact. Just be sure to tear the pot apart a bit when you plant. I soak mine in water, peat pot, and all, and then as I place them in the ground, I tear them apart just a bit, but not so much that I tear apart the root structure they hold.

You will also need to determine the optimum planting time, be it spring or later on in the summer. As different perennials have different times, where they are more apt to germinate naturally, this is important to know. A bit of research on the individual types of plants will let you know when this time is.

Some perennial seeds require going through a process called scarification. This term refers to the need for the seeds to be broken open to allow germination. Different gardeners have different theories on how to help this process along when growing some perennials from seeds. My mother, who had what many refer to as a green thumb, always soaked her seeds in a cup of strong black tea for a few days before planting. This softened the seeds shell-like covers and allowed them, to germinate.

From greenhouses to fertilizers and even seed starting kits where everything you might need has been assembled together in one convenient kit, starting your own seedlings, even perennials, is not as difficult as you might think. Different plants will of course bring you more success than others will, but trial and error is often a gardener's best friend. If you find one technique works better for you than something else does that you read or were told, then do it your own way.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Scientific names of Flowers from A-H

There are bulbs whose scientific names are unknown and we recognize them in their brand names or the easily remembered names. Here is the list of names and their features that might make you remember what they look like. You will never know that exotic plants you only see on television are just in your garden needed some attention.

Acidanthera Murilae are belonging to unusual exotic plants having the gladiolus-like foliage, it has the grandeur of classiness with its snow-white flowers and intricately crafted 'butterfly' in the centerpiece. Maintenance is simple placing it to the shady area of the garden mostly facing south direction to prevent orientation to sun. Its flowering season is on Aug-September and the planting season is on April to May.

Agapanthus or African lily are well known in different varieties such as Headbourne Hybrids, Bressingham Blue and Blue Giant. The planting season is on April to May while it flowers around July and August. It grows half-hardy that be lifted during winter. It is compatible with other plants such as Sedum spectabile and silver foliaged artemesia.

Begonia Tuberous are flowers produced in late summer approaching but flowers in season approaching autumn. They are delicate during winter that is why it is practicable to shelter them in greenhouse or indoors until the frost season is gone. They are known to be summer bulbs since they continually flower during summer.

Cyclamen are delicate flowers same as acidanthera murilae that should be kept in light shade most commonly grown in greenhouse or frost-free environment. It also needs some feed such as compost and other commercialized fertilizer to keep the flower that grows on October for some and January until March. Some cyclamen flowers are scented especially those that flowers around October, September and March. The following are the common names of cyclamen; africanum,coum, pewter, cyprium, graecum, libanoticum, neapolitanum, persicum, purpurascens and trochopteranthum which has similar height of 10-15 cm.

Dierama also described, as angel's fishing rod whose are common names are pulcherrimum and pendulum having the height of 3ft and 2 ft respectively. They usually treated as bedding, some are naturalized or undisturbed whose flowers blossom around summer and autumn and planting season is on September to April. They are grown in rock gardens with small ponds because of the dangling flowers that give magnificent view. It is versatile which can be placed around sun's orientation.

Eremurus also known as foxtail lily has breeds of shelford hybrids and robustus whose height is at 5-10 ft. Planting season is around September to October whose flower seen on summer which are recommended for cutting. It grows with protection of layer in peat and very much applicable to sunny and well-drained environment.

Fritillaria are flowers in variety whose common names are acmopetala, imperialis (crown imperial), meleagris (snake's head fritillary), meleagris ' Aphrodite', michailovski and persica 'Adiyaman'. All flowers have the height ranging from 15-60 cm whos is much compatible to the soil that is moist. All floweres will have palnting season from sept-october and flowers around mid and late summer. It also has less maintenance since it can still grow in woodlands or in naturalized borders. Planting depth is 10-15 cms from the surface. Famous fritillaria breed is acmopetala whose reigning colors are olive and purple strips while michailowsky has yellow and mahogany red strips. It is appropriate in sunny conditions and compatible with other brightly coloured flowers.

Galtonia is a summer blooming flower also called as summer hyacinth whose varieties are candicans, princes and viridiflora whose height is about 60-90 cm. It is appropriate to sunny environment and well-drained. When the flowers bloom, it is advised for cutting especially in its flowering season in the late summer. Candicans are renowned for its white flowers while viridflora are for their green grapes-like bulb. They are best landscaped in bush or silver foliage and other flowers such as artemesia.

Hemorocallis hybrids has an array of flowers such as bonanza, chartreuse magic, giant moon, nob hill and stella de oro. They are treated as herbaceous perennial whose flowering season is at July and September suggested for cutting. Flowering season starts from October until the autumn. Chartreuse Magic is unique for its yellow and green flowers, bonanza having orange and brown while nob hill has pink and yellow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Keep Those Daffodils Blooming!

It is not too late to plant a daffodil garden. In many parts of the country, daffodils can be planted through November and into December. Planting is still possible if the ground is not frozen and the soil is around 60 degrees F. If the ground is already frozen in your part of the country, it may be too late to plant bulbs, so this is a good time to plan a daffodil garden for this spring and for years to come. The right bulb choices will create a daffodil garden that will bloom from early spring into summer, allowing the daffodil lover to enjoy these perky flowers long after the traditional daffodil season has passed.

Most of us think of cheery yellow flowers when someone mentions daffodils. In fact, daffodils bloom in mixtures of white, pink, orange, red and yellow flowers. Each year new hybrids of daffodils are introduced by growers, increasing the varieties of daffodils available to the public. While yellow daffodils surrounded by snow is an image most gardeners cherish, and a fair amount of photographers capture, early spring yellow daffodils should be merely the first blooms for a daffodil garden. Selecting a mixture of early, mid, and late spring daffodils will create a daffodil garden which keeps on blooming. Daffodils are now available that bloom in summer, keeping a daffodil garden active well past the last snow of the season.

It is important to learn the language of daffodils to choose the type of bulbs that will produce the most beautiful garden for your landscape. The official botanical name for daffodils is Narcissus species. Commonly, these beautiful flowers are known as daffodils. In some areas they may also be referred to as " jonquils" but this is actually incorrect. Jonquils are a type of daffodil. Jonquils are probably what you see poking though the snow in early spring. While all jonquils are daffodils, not all daffodils are jonquils nor a hybrid. There are twenty-five species of daffodils and thirteen thousand different hybrids. These are broken down into divisions. So when choosing a bulb you are looking for a Narcissus Species, or a daffodil, that will have a division name such as Jonquilla narcissi. Each division is based on flower characteristics, such as petals and centers , known as " trumpets". The daffodil hybrids will be categorized by these different flower characteristics into the different divisions.

A type of daffodil falling within a certain division will have a more specific name such as
" Sweetness" or " Pipit". A familiarity with the divisions of daffodils will assist the gardener in choosing the best bulb for their garden plan. Each division describes a different looking daffodil. All daffodils do not look like the yellow flower we see emerging from the snow. There are at least twelve distinct types of daffodils and some experts argue a thirteenth division exists. The flowers look different and will create a different impact in a garden. For an extensive review of daffodil divisions see: "Cobb County Cooperative Extension ; Plant of the Month: Narcissus species; Common name : Daffodils, Jonquils " by Cornelius Tarver, Horticulture Program Assistant (

Now we know daffodils can look different, but did you know they also bloom at different times? Some daffodils bloom in early spring, some in mid spring and others in late spring. A bulb catalog called "Brecks" now even sells summer blooming daffodils. The wide range of blooming times for daffodils makes it important to choose bulbs that bloom at different times to create a constantly flowering daffodil garden. Some daffodils should poke their heads up in the snow, and others should be ready to flower as school lets out for the year. Attention to the " bloom time" listed on your daffodil bulb description will allow you to plant bulbs that should sequentially bloom. Just remember, Mother Nature does not always follow the descriptions found on bulb websites or in catalogs. It is also important to keep in mind some bulbs need at least a year to acclimate to new growing conditions. Wait a year before you decide your bulbs are mid season bloomers, not early bloomers as described in the catalog. It may be a question of acclimation, not deceptive advertising.

Foliage is an important consideration when planning a daffodil garden. Conventional horticulture wisdom tells us to allow daffodil foliage to grow until it yellows. This is to allow the bulb to store energy for the next bloom cycle. I have to admit, I must have mutant daffodils because the foliage never seems to yellow until mid summer and sometimes fall. Most sources claim the foliage should yellow four weeks after the flower has bloomed. This has not been my experience.

If you are planting a daffodil garden that you intend to last beyond one year, remember that you need to allow the foliage to grow long after the flower has faded. You do not want to plant daffodils that only grow to twelve inches behind daffodils that grow to eighteen inches. The foliage will hide the new blooms. Plant bulbs of similar characteristics together. As tempting as it is to plant sequentially blooming bulbs in the same hole, remember that the foliage from early spring will still be growing come late spring and in my garden, even summer. Planning for foliage will allow the gardener to place their bulbs in locations that will allow each type of daffodil to shine and not be hidden by those daffodils that have already bloomed.

It is also important to correctly assess the sun exposure your garden will provide your daffodils. Most daffodils require full sun but will also bloom in part sun gardens. Daffodils will grow under large deciduous trees. These trees will provide a full sun planting ground before their leaves bloom. Early spring blooming daffodils can be planted under the branches of deciduous trees without a worry unless the tree trunk or limb creates permanent shade. Daffodils that bloom later, after the leaves have bloomed, are more problematic.

I have a Siberian Elm tree in my front yard that could die any decade now. In the mean time, the sun and the tree constantly confuse me as to whether my front yard in sunny, shady, or both. Sunshine drifts between the branches of old trees in a manner that confuses this gardener. At least I am not confused that some areas that are sunny in early spring are full shade come late spring. Take into account the shade caused by leaves when planting mid and late spring bulbs. While they will tolerate some shade, total shade will prevent your flowers from blooming.

The American Daffodil Society (ADS) is a good place to start if you are interested in learning more about daffodils. The ADS can also link you to daffodil growers who specialize in less popular bulbs. This is important when researching early blooming daffodils. Daffodils come in more varieties then your average gardener realizes. Keep those daffodils blooming. With a little research and careful bulb choices you can have a daffodil garden that blooms well past the last snow and into the warm weather of summer .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Is Your Garden Prepped to Survive Winter and Flourish Next Spring?

by Kenny Point

By implementing a few simple gardening techniques to your garden in the fall you can help nurture a healthier vegetable garden that's enriched and revitalized when the spring growing season rolls around. You'll also enjoy the benefits of a more productive vegetable patch and harvest fresh produce far earlier and with less effort.

Fall Garden Clean-Up

The first step is to shift some of the routine gardening tasks that you normally perform in the springtime, and instead take care of them during the fall. At the end of your summer growing season clear out all of the weeds, garden debris, spent vines, and any left over fruits and vegetables that weren't harvested, rather than allowing these items to remain in the garden over the winter.

This "garden-cleaning" will speed spring cultivation work, eliminate left over fruits and vegetables whose seeds can turn into unwanted volunteers next summer, prevent weeds from becoming established during autumn, and reduce the likelihood that insect pests and diseases spend the winter nice and comfy in your garden beds.

While you're at it, also remove and store those plant stakes, cages, trellises, and gardening tools that are scattered about throughout the garden. A little care will reward you with a longer useful life and avoid loss and damage to expensive gardening equipment.

Cultivating the Soil in Autumn

Autumn is also a great time to apply and incorporate compost, mushroom soil, or even leaves into the garden beds. This will give the organic soil amendments additional time to break down or mellow, and will also reduce the risk of burning or over-fertilizing young seedlings in the spring.

If you till or cultivate your garden in the fall, do so very shallowly to avoid bringing weed seeds that were buried in the soil up to the surface levels where they can easily germinate. I garden in raised beds which eliminates the need for tilling the soil altogether.

With raised beds a quick turning of the soil surface of the beds with a digging fork or wheel hoe is all that's ever needed before planting. Raised beds are never walked on and they naturally resist the compaction that forces many gardeners to till their garden each spring.

Stretching the Growing Season

Once your garden is nice and tidy, why not plant something? There are a number of cool weather crops, especially leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, collards, mustard, and spinach that will grow right into winter and provide you with plenty of delicious fresh produce from the garden.

It doesn't stop there; these same plants can actually survive winter in the garden and produce additional harvests in early spring. So, from a single planting you receive multiple harvests of tasty leafy greens, protect the garden's soil over the winter, and prevent weeds from growing unchecked in an empty garden bed.

Not interested in fall vegetable production? Well how about planting a cover crop, also known as a green manure, to protect and enrich your garden's soil over the winter, as well as to crowd out weed growth? There's a long list of crops that can be planted as a fall cover crop and remain in place until they are turned under to enrich the soil in the spring.

Annual Ryegrass is my favorite choice for planting in autumn to serve as a quick growing, green manure. If it doesn't survive the winter it will still provide cover and is easier to turn under than many of the other green manure crops. A few other choices include winter rye, rape, barley, and Austrian Peas. Even everyday edible vegetable crops such as fava beans, peas, kale, and mustard can function as fall cover crops.

Fall Mulches for the Garden Bed

Think it's too late for you to sow a cover crop in your garden? Well at the very least you can cover the garden during fall and winter with a mulch of compost, mushroom soil, or a layer of leaves. A three or four inch layer of shredded leaves in particular will restrict weed growth and encourage earthworm activity. The leaves can be incorporated into the soil in the spring, or be removed and composted.

Speaking of leaves, they're abundant and free in most areas to anyone willing to go out and gather them up. Shredding will make the leaves easier to handle and store. Each fall I use a leaf blower to shred all the leaves that I can get my hands on and store what I can't use right away until springtime.

Implement these ideas this fall and your garden will be protected from the elements and erosion while you improve the texture and fertility of your soil and encourage the activity of earthworms and soil organisms all year-round. You'll also experience less weed growth, harvest more fresh produce and get your garden off to a quicker start in the spring.

Regardless of the season it's a great idea to keep something growing, or at least covering your garden at all times. Be sure to visit my website to discover additional timely ideas and tips for growing and improving your backyard garden and edible landscape.

Worried About Garden Pests? Why Not Let Nature Do The Work!

by Lee Dobbins

Gardening can be a fun and relaxing hobby but if you have to constantly be worried about garden pests damaging your plants became soon turned into a source of stress.

Dumping harsh chemicals on your plants is not good for you or the environment but luckily there is a better way. You can encourage natural predators into your garden that will soon eliminate these pesky pests. These natural creatures can live in harmony in your garden where they will eat the pests that are harming your plants.

Here are some natural predators and how you might encourage them to take up residence in your garden.


What would a garden be without some frogs and toads? They are likely attracted to your garden as it is, but you can add a few elements to attract even more of them. Since frogs and toads love water you might think of installing a garden pond, or at the very least a small water feature low to the ground that they can breed in. They will thank you by helping to control small insects and slugs.

Lady Bugs

Ladybugs love to eat aphids so you want to attract as many of them as you can into your garden. You probably recognize them as an adult with a red and black dotted shells but you might not easily recognize the lava which is gray in color with orange dots. Don't mistake the larva for a past as these lover can chow down more aphids than the adults. Ladybugs like Cosmos, scented geraniums and even dandelions so be sure to have plenty of those in your garden.

Ground Beetles

Ground beetles like to make their home under stones or leaf covers and sleep all day coming out at night to feed on garden pests. They have quite an appetite Emil Chow down slugs, snails, cutworms and leather jackets and the lava or egg stage. Some will even climb up in the trees to get a good meal and can eat gypsy moth and tent caterpillars. you can encourage these as you garden are providing permanent plantings for them to live under, loose leaf cover or small stones.


Who doesn't want birds in their garden? While these might be considered pests for some vegetables they can also read your garden of pests such as caterpillars, grubbs, slugs and aphids which they feed on. have a little bird bath in your garden as well as some nesting boxes to encourage birds into the garden where they might see a tasty grub they might want to feast on.


Lacewings, or the larva of lace wings feed on aphids and small soft bodied pests. To attract bees, make sure you have a water source and plant lots of nectar and pollen flowers as they like to lay their eggs underneath the leaves of these plants.

With a little bit of strategic planning, you can attract these predators into your garden which will not only help control the pests but will also add interest to the garden. Plus, it's a lot more fun to plant particular flowers and put out sources of water to attract birds, beetles and frogs into your garden than it is to drag out the sprayer hose and douse your garden with chemicals! Not only will you be getting rid of pests on your plants, you'll also be providing a food source for the predators and keeping the environment free of chemicals!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gardening for Four Seasons

During Spring
Spring is the season where most flowers blossom over the long winter. It is also the event where flowers were used for display since flowers are in variety during this season. The well-known flowers that fit in the design of the garden are the snowdrops, winter aconites, crocuses and early daffodils. In this type of season, most flower colors reflect pink and yellow shades. These flowers were the very first seen after the winter so most of gardeners have them displayed either in their garden for impressive view or just beside their homes.

Designing these kind of flowers depend upon the size of the bulb and the impact it make when grown together in a container. It also depends on to the distance if such small and colored flowers would make a very good view. To do this, you must landscape the overall area of the garden with a carpet of grass before the actual design. Just like in painting, one must always make a clean canvass and a base color. In this case, green carpet like grass creates a canvass for your garden masterpiece. Identify the strategic points of which you will create each blocks of flowers. Then arrange the colors of the flowers, the bulb size and the thickness of the creating a visual ecology.

Consider the flowers that can last over one to two seasons or all year-round plants like conifers, shrubs with colorful bark, evergreen, tree trumps and those flowers that create architectural features. This type of plants can be modified by cutting or trimming in whichever you like it to appear making one garden interesting. But in designing for the whole garden, you must also consider the seasons of which each flowers blossom according to its season. According to landscapers, one key to create successful plant associations is observing different shapes, colors and textures. Using this kind of varieties give a lasting effect for the design. We ultimately know that flowers are part of ecological change of the environment and by these we create a design that when that change comes still the flowers will look good together.

During summer
After that colored season of spring where most reds, pinks and yellow flowers flourish somehow ends during summer. The season becomes a little bit humid and sun-colored flowers appear. In this season, flowers like large trumpet shaped lilies, neat spikes of liatris and umbrella shaped clusters flourish. What is important in this time of the season is to create an umbrella or shade against the sun. It is interesting to create a theme that will also draw attention. Most summer gardens becomes spectacular if yellow accentuated with few pinks. Peculiar bulbs during this season are present like diorama, acidanthera and trigidia. Their strong shapes create a style that not only are fascinating but also sets your garden beyond conventional.

Summer bulbs during June and July are well known for flowers like alliums as ornamental onions. This type of plant grew in outstanding height having strong spherical shapes. If it is combined it with sphaerocephalum whose bulbs are advantageous when grouped. It is an oval shaped flower with shades of purple, pink and cream that you can choose from. Lilies are also present being the most versatile of all, since it can be combined to just any type of flower and has been hybrid to create mixture of colors. An example of this is the lilium regale having a distinct shape that of the Prince of Wales-feather shaped leaves of Melianthus major. Lilies in terms of combinations with other cultures especially modern designs that of Japanese architecture are best fitted in white gardens. Sand gardens of Japanese landscape, lilies used to give beauty with their favorite bamboo plants. For exotic designs giving a fiery effect of the garden then this tigrinum better known as tiger lily is specie in the family of lilies having a flaming orange bulb. However having this kind of type of lily color can be difficult to mix with other bulbs especially those of pastel motifs.

During autumn and winter
During this time of season, most flowers fall and the landscape turns into foliage. The most appealing in autumn and winter season are the trees commonly are the acers and shrubs like fothergilla. Leaves and flowers somehow fall around the end of the summer and the supply of flowers is scarce, the most effective of creating landscape is to keep it into a winter character. However, flowers that continue in the middle of autumn season are the hemerocallis and agapanthus. There is not much of landscaping in this season but you can still create an indoor attraction.

Indoor bulbs or flowers inside the conservatory for the cold weather are good for display. Most indoor bulbs like Vallota (Scarborough lily) which lives early in the autumn. Although it is kept inside permanently. The characteristic of this lily is the striking red colored lily at the top of its stem that is identical to hippeastrum. Some outdoor plants can be placed indoor to keep it in good condition like colchicums, schizotylis, water lily and lilac wonder.

What is enthralling with this season is introducing the plants to your children as an indoor activity. It can also help them appreciate flowers and understand the flowers having different kinds of seasons. To keep flowers until Christmas is to place them in pots after or in the middle of September before the start of autumn. In this way, you are giving enough time for the flower to grow into the pots.
Other types of indoor flowers are Tazetta group of narcissi having varieties like Soleil d' Or' and Paper white. One basic feature of this plant is the convenience it gives to the gardener since it much quicker and simpler to grow compared to normal spring bulbs.

Design themes for your Garden
There are different kinds of themes you can choose depending in your taste. If you want your garden to have a fragrance scent then hyacinth flowers are the best choice. You can choose from purple, mauve, red, pink or white and other shades having present in late February. Associate it with daffodils, water-lily type tulip, crocuses in flower arrangement especially in small pots. You can either place it in front or back or even both sides of the house. If you are looking into an informal look then try arranging small growing hybrids of narcissi over rockeries because they form as a central subject. When centralizing a flower piece make sure that it is not too large in the pot. Other narcissi known for their aromatic sense are Jonquilla having varieties of Baby moon, Lintie and Trevithian that blooms around April and May.

In summer, exotic plants are the most popular such as crocosmia and hemerocallis. If grown together into cluster a fascinating blend of colors such as apricot and buff shades. Another unusual flower is gladiolus byzantinus having a vivid magenta color that grows in early summer. This kind of plant is the most versatile of all since it can withstand until winter. However, during the late summer, Acidanthera murielae is the best fitting plant the peculiar butterfly mark in the center is the main feature.
If you are aiming for sophisticated effect, then galtonia hyacinth is nothing but elegance. It has a dangling white colored and bell-shaped flowers falling around it stems. When it is difficult to find this kind of flower during summer one similar feature can also be found with Liatris.

However, during the autumn and winter, the display is in the indoor especially the conservatory. Most of the plants around this are the evergreens and other dwarf coloured dwarf bulbs. Other autumn flowering species are Cyclamen neapolitanum and c. purpurascens. Indoor bulbs that grow in groups that have autumn interest are tricyrtis and T. formosana stolonifera (toad lilies). But due to their less popularity most people seem to notice their flowers whose beauty can even appreciated even without looking closely at them.

What is important in having a bulb that will growing in different conditions are basically to have a well-drained pot that contains enough organic materials. Simply means that a plant should have enough water. In deciding for the type of bulb that will grow in your garden is primarily identifying the condition of your soil. Determine the type using a soil testing kits most gardening stores have. Find out if it is made of clay, sandy type, or the good loamy soil. Observe also the sun's orientation in your garden, if possible sketch the areas where there is direct sunlight and shade in any time of the day. In this way, you will have an idea which plant needs direct sunlight.

In preparing for the plant in its new soil or bed, you must first clear the area and cultivate the soil. Spread an amount of organic materials such as the biodegradable fruit left-over and vegetables into the desired space. Improve also the soil aeration and drainage. Then set in the bulbs into their positions following your design. What is important in the bulb is to plant them in a right depth. Plant them firmly by light press and twist into the soil. Afterwards, continue maintaining the area with the proper moisture.

Tips for Cultivation

Bulbs embedded into different types of containers or soil beds means specifying the kind of treatment for such. These are bulbs naturalized in borders, naturalized in lawns, wild and woodland gardens, used as bedding, containers, rockeries, raised beds and even sink gardens for outdoor bulbs. Other bulbs are indoor plants must also be treated differently and these are in the greenhouses and cold frames.

For outdoor bulbs where most environmental change occurs such as the wind, sun, moisture, humidity and even the season change that can affect the soil condition.

Bulbs naturalized in borders
Bulbs in this type of treatment should always soil treatment that can hold the bulb together and placing organic material. Feed the bulb with general-purpose feed and most popular one is Growmore especially in the month of April. Religiously do this for six to eight weeks. If the plants do not flower well, dig up the clumps and divide them to give space for each to grow after the foliage has died down. Most gardeners after seeing the foliage untidy underneath the bulbs, they clean it or trim the leaves. This is not a good idea since the foliage itself feeds the bulb if so there is a change of flowering for the next season. Naturally leave the foliage unto its sides. To prevent the plant from looking untidy place borders to keep the foliage in place.

Bulbs naturalized in lawns
To easily manage the bulbs are grouped on a bank. These not only look tidy but also help the bulbs to flower easily. Just like bulbs in borders, bulbs in the lawn need feeding. One ideal feeding is the summer and spring lawn feed for the month of April. Be careful in selecting the product that might indicate weed killer that in return kill the bulbs as well. Then, go after with autumn lawn feed in late summer or early autumn. These bubs should be left undisturbed unless they're crowded thus need some division.

Soil bedding used temporarily
Some bulbs embedded temporarily unto the ground that are different from bulbs naturalized in lawns or borders. Like traditional planting procedure such as feeding with a dressing of bone meal at a period and sometimes fertilized during spring. The only difference is when the bulbs start to flower or blossom, the ground is cleared to give way for another bedding season, bulbs are dug up. They are then placed to another container until their foliage dies naturally. When the bulbs are ready for picking, the bulbs are lifted and stored for another planting season.

Wild and woodland gardens
These bulbs left undisturbed in their natural soil without any chemicals and fertilizers being used to keep the wild flowers to flourish. However, despite the general idea, gardeners must also cultivate the soil for natural landscape. Other bulbs that are present in this type of soil bed are wood sorrel and bluebells since they require less attention and feeds. But lilies and other well known bulbs for light shaded woodland need special care. A thoroughly composted organic material is a requirement for lilies during spring. The young buds need protection from slugs. Home remedies tested by most gardeners for eradicating slugs are saucer of beer wherein the slugs drown themselves if not use slug pellets.

Spring bulbs in containers
For effective container pots for the bulbs, used soil based potting compost instead of garden soil. You may join two types of bulbs for ornamental effect but space them evenly to the container. Then top it with a compost soil and other organic material. Then press and twist the soil to hold the bulbs together before watering them. Keep the containers in a shady area to give time for the bulbs to take root. After the flower buds had appeared, that is the only time you place it to your garden. Water the bud sparingly at first and only you will give regular liquid feeds after the buds appear.

Rockeries, Raised beds and Sink Gardens
To set up for a rockery, raised bed or sink garden, begin it with a foundation using a coarse drainage material. On the bottom, use a layer of broken rocks or coarse gravel about to 2 inches for sink garden while for rockery and raised bed use broken bricks and rubble. After the base, top it with a loamy topsoil and grit for rockeries and raised beds while on sink gardens create a mixture of compost soil and John Innes no. 2 potting compost blend proportionally. Enhance the bedding by placing large stones on the sides to draw attention. Most of these rock gardens look artificial from the original view of plant and rock formation. But what is important is to make sure that the rock plants will grow around the stone formation and there is proper surface drainage rather than ornamental effects only. Rock gardens and raised beds need less attention than sink gardens unless for those weeds those easily grow on the sides. Depending in the season wherein in winter, plants protected from rain while on summer, plants needed regular watering. Feeding in this type of treatment is not necessary; the compost itself will supply all the sustenance it needs. But after three to four years, be sure to remove the compost entirely and replace it with a new one.

For indoor bulbs, treatment is less complicated since bulbs were placed in containers. These kinds of flowers are sensitive from changing environmental changes.

Indoor bulbs
These kinds of species of bulbs are developed and endured within the safety of a shelter. The key for growing indoor bulbs is similar to growing other houseplant. Tender bulbs sold as other growing plants during spring and autumn. When you are starting a new bulb, keep the soil barely enough to hold the bulbs. Water tight after being planted, press the soil and keep the soil in shelter until new shoots appear, then eventually and slightly water the bulb as it starts to grow. If the bulb is already stable, water regularly and start using liquid houseplant feed when the flower buds appear. Most cycle of plants, follow that kind of pattern just like outdoor plants. But other plants that respond differently as if undeveloped such as the leaves starts to yellow and fall. What you will do is to reduce the feeling and watering to let the bulbs eventually become dormant. Yet continue doing it and let it in their pots with the compost kept dry. So observe the behavior of the plant especially for the newly planted one.

Bulbs in Greenhouses and cold frames
This kind of conservatory used to keep the bulbs from frost during winter. Special kinds of bulbs such as daffodil hybrids, alpine house bulbs and other bulbs that used for exhibition that needs protection from winter wind, snow and rain. In this type of cultivation, heat is vital to keep the tender species to be cultivated in a heat of 40F using electric soil-warming cables. Although each species requires specific attention but this suggestion applies to all. First is watering, proper caring given to this tender species since they are at risk to rotting or decaying. Then these plants should be kept dry. Unlike during summer, where most plants needed a lot of watering. Ventilation is also important. In greenhouses and cold frames, exchange of air is necessary from outside to inside the conservatory.

Learn How You Can Grow Orchids At Home

by Lee Dobbins

Many people think that growing orchids is something that can only be done in big hothouses however, you can grow orchids at home if you pick the right type and provide it with the right environment.

Growing orchids can be a rewarding hobby and can produce beautiful plants that you can enjoy or give as gifts. If you have a green thumb and love exotic plants, then growing them yourself is something that might be worth the effort.

Orchids that work best for home growing are those that grow high in the trees hanging from the branches and get the nutrition from the rain, jungle air and decaying vegetation that their roots come in contact with. In order to grow these orchids at home, you'll need to provide them with a growing area that comes close to their native environment.


Orchids thrive in humid climates and if you want to grow them at home you'll need to provide them with an area where they can have at least 50% humidity. in order to do this, you can set your orchid pots on a tray that is filled with water but not In the tray just above it so that the humidity from the water can come up with a water does not soak into the pot. may sting is also important to make sure there is sufficient in circulation so that the leaves and pedals can dry off properly.


It's important that your work is to not sit in water but remain moist. You should water than once a week after the soil has dried out. Make sure there is no standing water. Fertilize with a water-soluable fertilizer made specifically for orchids.


Different types of orchids need different amounts of sunlight and if you can't provide natural sunlight you can try fluorescent grow lights. In the winter, your records will need at least four hours of light.


You can buy ready mixed orchid potting mixes and this is what you should use for your orchids.


Orchids can be prone to diseases and pests. They can succumb to fungal disease viral disease and bacterial disease and often have mites, aphids, caterpillars, slugs, mealy bugs, snails, white flies, and dendrobium beatles. growing them indoors can reduce the bugs immensely but you still have to be on the lookout for pests and disease.

To treat pests on your orchids, you should use pesticides from a local garden supply store. Be sure to always use them per instructions. If you can, try to go with organic pesticides that are easy on the environment.

Planting Herbs in the Fall

by Ted Roberson

For gardeners who have tried and possibly failed at planting herbs in the spring or summer, you may have already figured out that planting in the fall is usually best for many herbs. Especially for herbs grown from bulbs, planting them in the fall gives them a chance to make roots and they will be ready for harvest in the spring. Since herbs are almost always very delicate plants, planting in the fall is the best because of the cool weather. The harsh humid conditions that occur in many parts of the country throughout the summer means that herbs will have a difficult time getting started, let alone surviving.

Of course, planting herbs in the fall is not for all climate zones, especially for climate zones above 5 or 6, and not for all herbs. In these climate zones, it is usually cool enough through the spring and summer months to grow herbs and may be too cool in the quickly approaching cold weather of the fall months. If you are interested in particular herbs then it is best to research their hardiness independently for climate zones 1-5.

For the rest of the country, planting in the fall works well because herbs need lots of sun, but do not need the humidity that goes along with the sunshine. There is a fine balance between too little and too much sunshine for these delicate plants, who usually need about five to six hours of sunlight a day. Keep in mind that there are a few herbs that enjoy the shade, such as parsley and mint, but the majority of them prefer at least a few hours of sunlight a day.

The best part about planting in the fall is that herbs can easily be planted in containers, just in case the weather gets cold. This way herbs can be moved to a greenhouse or indoors where grow lights or just placing them in a sunny window will keep them at bay for the winter.

It really is best to start out small plants or herbs from seeds in small pots in the fall and transfer them to the ground in the spring, if at all. Since they are so fragile, placing them right in the ground might mean not getting good results. Remember that there are a few herbs that come in the form of perennial bulbs, such as garlic, fennel, saffron, and shallots, but the rest are in the form of plants or seeds. Herb perennial bulbs should be placed in the ground as the fall weather approaches, but at least 6-8 weeks before a freeze, this way they have time to establish roots before becoming dormant.

There are both annual and perennial herbs as well as biennial. Popular annual herbs include basil, borage, cilantro, chamomile, and rosemary. Popular perennials and biennials include parsley, sage, and mint. Most herbs are annuals and the point of planting herbs in the fall is to give them a chance to get rooted and be prepared for an entire season in the early spring and summer months. That means you will be harvesting these annuals in the midst of the summer when the heat of the summer is useful in helping dry herbs for storage.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Defines Someone as a Gardener?

By Christina VanGinkel

I had printed out a list of the various blogs I like to write for, and the different websites and print publications that I have written for in the past, or have ideas that I would like to follow up with a submission. The list was solely for my own personal reference as I have been going though a stage where I feel if I could just get a bit more organized; I would somehow discover more time in my days. By seeing what I am accomplishing, I hope it will also provide inspiration for even more articles, as I am at my happiest when I am getting the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with others through my words.

The list was lying by my desk where my husband had sat down to do a bit of bill paying. I saw him glancing at the list, but was unprepared when he turned to me and with all the sincerity in his voice he could muster, asked me if I wrote much for the gardening blog I had in the list.

Why would he ask me that was my response? Well, he went on to say that while we both enjoyed gardening, he was the true gardener in the family, and he could not imagine that I would have a lot to say on the subject, as I mostly just enjoyed the garden after he did the work.

I thought on this for a moment before answering, because part of what he had said was true. If I had to appoint one of the two of us as the official gardener in the house, he would win without trouble. He has a knack with plants that I have never been able to achieve. He can take a seedling that is on its last day here on Earth, and in a few days time have that seedling looking as if it were the ideal specimen to represent whatever plant family it was from. He can also tell a weed from a plant, whereas for as many years as I have been pulling weeds, I invariably still pull plants that were supposed to be in the garden!

I do love to garden, but I love even more to spend time sitting and admiring it.. Too often in the past, when I have tried to pull my fair share of the work involved with our gardens, I end up doing more damage than help. Still, I love other garden related chores, This spring, tired of a walkway design that I had created a few years ago, I ripped up all the offending parts of the design, and even carted away all the removed edging and stone. My husband liked how it turned out and the walkway is much the better for the work I did. I am also good at picking out garden art, and creating it. I have contributed birdhouses both wooden and those made of natural materials, i.e., gourds. When I reminded him of these parts of my time in the garden, he did concede that I was right (that was a first!), as far as those things were concerned. He even told me he really liked the last gourd I had painted and made into a birdhouse.

I also help keep the many bird feeders full throughout the year and when we had a problem last winter with a disease that was spreading through the smaller birds who visited the feeders, it was me who took them all down, bleached them all, and put them back out.

I might not be the proverbial green thumb contributor to our garden, but I do contribute. I also reap the rewards that come from both of our work. I enjoy the early days of spring when the green of the garden is finding its first rays of warm sun to reach out to, as much as I do the garden in its snow-covered form come the depths of winter. No, I might not be able to write about how to create a cross breed hybrid plant, or tell you how to mix just the right amount of topsoil with manure to provide a soil rich enough to grow almost anything imaginable, yet at the same time not so strong that it burns the plants instead of helps feed them, but I can still lay claim to being a gardener, and write about my trials and tribulations as one!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Winter Gardening

When late fall and ultimately, winter, arrives on the scene, many amateur gardeners put away their spades and go inside to wait for the warmth of spring. While there is not much outdoor gardening to be done during the cold winter months, gardeners can still be active. Not only are there opportunities for indoor gardening, gardeners can enjoy planning their garden for next year, as well as organizing and replenishing their tools. When the cold winds and snows of winter begin to blow at your house and you think your gardening days are over, think again, and consider doing the following to pass the time.

Clean out your shed or garage. Wherever you keep your gardening tools, whether it is in a tool shed out back, in your garage, or on a shelf in your basement, you know the place. It is a messy place that is neglected all summer long while you enjoy the sunshine of the outdoors and all your precious flowers and plants. Winter is a great time to go through all your gardening tools and items to see what needs to be replaced, and to neatly store the items you will keep. Make sure your spades, rakes, shovels and other tools are in good working order. If anything is broken or unsafe, either fix it or replace it. Clean out the watering can and empty and store your garden hose. Wash and repair your gardening gloves, or better yet, buy yourself a brand new pair that will be waiting for you, come spring. Clear off any shelves or clean out any bins that hold your equipment. Clean and fold up your work table, and store any insect repellants, fertilizers and other like items in a safe place. Wash or wipe them down and then line everything back up neatly. This way, when the frost melts and you are ready to plant your seedlings in a few months, your gardening equipment will be ready.

Map out a plan for next spring. Gardeners are as varied as the plants they enjoy working with. Some like to wait and see what the spring brings, and buy plants and vegetables on a whim, while others enjoy planning exactly what they will do. If you are not much of a planner, at least consider taking out your calendar and planning what to do when. Find out exactly when it is safe to begin planting outdoors in your area, when all signs of frost will be gone. Mark this on your calendar and then count back six to eight weeks so you will know when you can begin planting and nurturing the seeds for your garden. Mark a week or so before that date as the time when you will need to buy soil, seeds, etc. Having a plan will help you not to get behind schedule on your gardening; this is especially important if you live in a climate that has a short growing season. Once you have your calendar planned out, write down ideas for which plants you will grow and where you will put them. Will your vegetable garden be in the same place this year? If so, exactly how do you want to lay out the vegetables? Where will you plant your perennial flowers this year? Will you put impatiens in the hanging pots as you do every year, or this year will it be geraniums? Ask yourself these questions and enjoy making your plan. It will save you time and money in the spring.

Do indoor gardening. The winter months often bring sunshine into our homes as no other time does. With all the leaves gone from the trees and the sun at a low angle, we often find sunshine streaming through the windows. Consider planting seeds which will grow through the winter, or bring in your impatiens and see if you can nurse them through the winter months. Setting up small terrariums and miniature gardens in our windows during the winter helps to take away the winter blues and makes the time pass much more quickly.

With these ideas in mind, the winter will pass and before you know it, you will be back out in your garden, digging in the soil, enjoying the sunshine, and wondering what you did all winter!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ten Things Every Gardener Needs

All good gardeners, and even most lousy gardeners, know that there are certain tools and items every gardener should keep in his or her garage or gardening shed. While fads come and go and new consumable supplies must be bought every year, some items will always be needed and should be kept on hand permanently. Following are a few tried and true gardening tools and supplies that no gardener should be without.

1. Spade. This might seem painfully obvious, but often the spade is the most overlooked, as well as misplaced, item in the gardener's stash. Make sure your spade is in good working order with the handle securing attached to the shovel. You will use your spade in the garden, as well as for potted plants and when arranging your window boxes.

2. Large Shovel. For the times when the spade is simply too small, make sure you have a regular sized shovel on hand. This is handy when a large potted plant needs to be planted in the garden, or if you decide to dig up a small tree or bush. As with the spade, make sure your shovel is in good working order.

3. Rakes. You will need more than one rake for your gardening: a leaf rake and a bow rake. A leaf rake is usually quite flexible and is best for cleaning out the garden in the fall and the spring. A bow rake has hard, immovable teeth that area good for tilling the soil of the garden or thatching the lawn. Store your rakes upright with the teeth facing up to avoid tripping over them.

4. Watering Can. Although many gardeners will use their garden hose for watering the garden, the potted plants and the window boxes, a watering can can be handy, especially if you are in a hurry. A helpful tip is to fill your watering can the night before you plan to water the garden. Then, the next morning, when it is time to water the pots and the garden, the hose can stay neatly coiled while you go about your watering, and you will not be late for work. Choose a large, plastic watering can for this chore, and if you have many plants or a large garden, two watering cans might be handy.

5. Sprinkler. This is optional, but if your garden is exceptionally large and receives sun for most of the day, you might want to consider letting the sprinkler run on the garden for about twenty minutes each morning before the sun rises. Never water your lawn or garden while the sun is shining on it, as most of the water will evaporate, and the leaves might be burnt from the magnification of the sun through the drops of water.

6. Shelving. Shelves are imperative for a gardener to keep all his or her aforementioned items stored neatly. Wall hooks are also helpful for storing spades, shovels, rakes, and hoes.

7. Work Table. Nothing is more painful that squatting down on the lawn or porch to pot plants or plant seedlings in pots. Consider purchasing a work table. It does not have to be fancy or expensive; a card table will do, or a cheap, plastic lawn table. Use something to save your back from the strain of bending over. And if you choose, use a chair as well so you can sit comfortably while you work on your seedlings.

8. Insect Repellant. Depending on where you live, insects might be more or less of a problem. In many areas, insect repellant must be worn from head to toe to prevent bites and stings from mosquitoes and biting flies. Even if these are not a problem, there are always bees, hornets and yellow jackets nearby, and it is better if they are persuaded not to take a nibble.

9. Gardening Gloves. While it can be fun to work our fingers into fresh, black soil, you will thank yourself later if you protect your hands now. Gardening gloves will not only keep your hands clean, they will keep your skin from drying out and protect your skin and nails from injury.

10. Sun Protection. Always use a hat and sunscreen to protect your face and body from the harmful rays of the sun.

With these tips in mind, come spring, you will be ready and your garden will be waiting.