Basic Care of Bonsai Ginseng

  • Watering – A ficus ginseng bonsai must be watered when the soil becomes dry. Occasionally, it can tolerate under or over watering, but if you can, avoid this as it can lead to problems. The water must be at room temperature. You can also spray the tree daily to maintain the proper humidity, but don’t exaggerate with this. Also, if you keep you bonsai in a warm place, it should be watered more often. On the other hand, if you place it in a cooler place, then you can water it once a day or every other day, depending on how much moisture it retains.
  • Repotting – This is a significant process in the care of bonsai ginseng. The miniature tree must be repotted each spring so the tree has time to recover before the growing period begins. When doing so, you must use a special bonsai soil mixture that can be found in the specialty shops or online. Root-pruning is also a good option for a ficus ginseng.
  • Positioning – You must keep in mind that this particular species is an indoor bonsai. As a result, it cannot endure frost or cold temperatures. In the summer, you can keep it outside, but only if temperatures go beyond 15°C. Keep it under plenty of light both outdoors and indoors. The ficus ginseng bonsai doesn’t like shady positions. Also, try to maintain the temperature constant.
  • Pruning – If you want to take proper care of a bonsai ginseng and maintain its shape, then you will have to prune it regularly. Once 6 to 8 leaves have developed, you can prune up to 2 leaves and over time this procedure will reduce the leaf size and encourage the foliage to thicken evenly on the bonsai. You can also thicken the trunk, but only after 1 or 2 years. At the time, the bonsai will be solid and healthy enough to endure the strong cuts and develop new shoots.
  • Fertilizing – During the summer, you must fertilize the ficus ginseng bonsai every two weeks or on a weekly basis. In the winter, fertilize it every 2 – 4 weeks. Best to use organic fertilizer pellets or liquid fertilizer.

It Only Takes One Seed

Many offer excuses for not planting a single seed whether it is a flower, herb, or veggie because they don’t have the room, time, or the ambition to farm for their livelihood. False fronts always deny the teller of inspiration that can alter lives and bring individuals closer together by understanding why we are here and what our mission in life is. If you don’t have an acre of land, then a flowerpot or even empty coffee can will do. Flowers may not be our forte but a fresh herb added to your famous pot roast recipe will bring you untold pleasure not only from words but from being privvy to others finding pure enjoyment in what you have accomplished in your kitchen. No time – in less time then answering a single email, or stepping away from a commercial on tv, you could begin the process of bringing life to a piece of heaven right in your kitchen or den. As to no ambition to be a farmer – maybe that is not your dream in life but you have to attest to the fact that every time you pick up a fork, or place a flower in your lapel – somewhere a farmer has added to your life’s beauty and taste sensations. Food, flowers, herbs, even a cactus plant gives you moments of inspiration or meditation. You cannot keep that smile hidden behind your frown on the day when you see that first shoot breaking its way through the soil right there on your kitchen window sill. Try as you might, yelling at it just doesn’t come to mind as you marvel at what nature has so conveniently placed in your hands to nurture and develop.

Gardening on a single scale or a whole delightful garden is up to the individual, but no matter the size, the choice of plant, or even the reason that you received a free packet of seeds from your corner deli as a spring promotion – you were meant to be given the gift of being part of the life of this earth’s very core – life – and the beauty of being part of this part of creation on this planet that we call home. Living alone, or with a whole family of sizes and ages, everyone can enjoy a single seed planted where it can bring “spice” to your life, a “rosy” outlook to your day or even a “lettuce” get together moment. It will be what you make of it but you have to plant that seed.

Gardening and growing things is so basic in our human genes that we can try and cover it up with mountains of concerns, but when you see that flower or taste that fresh salad at your favorite restaurant, or even sprinkle oregano on your pizza delight – you have reached into your gene of realizing that everything in life is not manufactured, additives included, or colored from a laboratory tube; it is true, unadulterated pleasure to be part of this basic life component. You don’t have to start by ordering a ton of wheat seeds, but maybe a bedding plant with “monkey faces” better known as pansies from your local Wal-mart. The really weird outcome of starting on this venture is that it multiplies and some day you might just find yourself embracing that seed catalog that is placed in your mailbox. You can hug the mailperson who put it there while you go skipping back to your house to go through your recipes to see what spices you can grow fresh, or what new veggie you can add to your menu with all its “good for you” components.

Plan Your Backyard Renovation

Once you have a visualised version of your backyard in your mind, the next step is to write it down or draw it. It doesn’t have to be to scale (it is better if it is, though) but the drawing does need to have realistic boundary lines so that you can insert the details. Start with drawing the outside lines of the yard, that is, the walls of your fence and wall of your house, assuming that the yard has three fenced walls plus the one wall of the house facing the backyard. Essentially you should have a boxed outline. Then draw in the fixed components, such as any outside buildings, garage, swimming pool, etc. Now you’ll be able to see the parts that are not occupied by any components. These are the parts that you can use for the design of your backyard.

Next, you need to establish how much of this blank space you want to pave, plant grass, or add a garden. Where should the pathway go and which sections should be paved? Once you’ve allocated where the grass will be planted, it leaves you with space that could be paved. Depending on your budget, you need to decide whether you want to pave with standard paving bricks or use beautifully designed flagstones. Paving bricks are more practical and fit into any budget as they are more affordable. Paving bricks are also ideal if any cars may be parking in your backyard. Flagstones are beautiful natural looking paving stones that usually come in medium to large square sizes. They are not suitable for cars to drive on them. You can place strips of grass between the flagstones to create an interesting design. Plus you can add cobblestones as a pathway through the grass and outlining the flagstones for added decoration. You can also allocate a portion of your backyard for a garden with flowers and plants to add some colour. Around this garden you can use cladding to keep it separate and create a focal point.

Once you have the backyard renovation planned, then you can get the gardener, paver and/or landscaper to get started on the backyard renovation.

Hellebores

Helleborus are long-lived and very tough perennials that bloom with big, beautiful flowers in the winter. Also called “Lenten Roses”, they are known for being the first plant to do much of anything in the very early spring or, in some areas, the middle of winter. Yes, often even before spring flowering bulbs. Hellebores are quick to send up thick stalks and bloom when the days start to get longer and the sun barely warms the soil. Blooms will last a long time too – often a couple of months. Cultivars offer blooms from white to almost black, and every color and many pretty patterns in between. Their foliage stays evergreen. They do well in shade and don’t get big. People who have added hellebores to their gardens quickly fall in love with them and are often the beginnings of garden plant collections!

Most garden zones of 5 to 8 and are able to enjoy the full range of available hellebore cultivars. The best types for temperate gardens are the hybrid types, which come in most of the colors and forms that you see. More northern climates are limited to the species ‘helleborus niger’ which are generally white-blooming, but they are still lovely. Hellebores pair lovely in the shade garden with other typical shade plants, like astilbe and hosta.

Helleborus originate from Asia and Europe and have been in cultivation for a long time. Lots of myths and stories originate from these plants, centering on their toxicity. It used to be associated with witchcraft and was sometimes used during ancient Greek times as a cure for insanity. The plant itself is not palatable, but when planted in the garden great care should be taken to make sure kids and pets don’t eat it.

Hellebores aren’t necessarily new. Gardeners who enjoy branching out from the normal selections often have groups of hellebores in their gardens- but they’re not very common in most landscapes. Thankfully, we are carrying the best performing and beautiful hellebore cultivars now priced affordably so they can be planted in a wider range of gardens.

Effects of Winter on Outdoor Furniture

When considering the purchase of your furniture collections, it is in your best interest to weigh the pros and cons of each type of material used in the manufacturing process. Some may work better in wind and rain while others may be meant for sunshine and heat.

All commercial grade furniture is designed for constant use and, to some degree, built to withstand the elements. However, as with other purchases, some materials are more resilient than others. Metal, for example, is arguably the longest-lasting and most durable material used for outdoor furniture. With this being said, it is important to note that proper care and maintenance of your furniture will prolong its lifespan, no matter the material.

On a year round basis, all furniture pieces should be cleaned thoroughly each changing of the season. While there are special cleaning solutions available (i.e. Casual Clean), in most cases a mild detergent and water mixture can effectively be used. For a more detailed cleaning process, contact your commercial grade outdoor furniture representative. He/She should be able to send you step by step instructions.

If your establishment is in an area that experiences harsh winters, packing away your outdoor furnishings is a better option. Before this is done, some additional inspecting should be performed to prevent rusting and unnecessary cracking while in storage. For example, ensuring that water does not find a permanent home in the frames of your chaise lounges and poolside dining furniture. Unless they will be stored in a heated room, water left in the frames will freeze causing irreversible damage.

Rain water during the warmer months can gather inside your furniture. Once this water freezes, it will expand causing the frames to crack. Periodically, especially after major down pours, turning your furniture on its side will help the water drain.

When choosing from all the weather resistant material options keep in mind the climate, both warm and cold. Some furniture is manufactured to be set outside and left alone while others will not survive the winter. Make sure your commercial grade furnishings representative is aware of the climate in your area. This will help to make sure you are being paired up with the right commercial grade outdoor furniture.

Paving Tiles for Swimming Pool Areas

Modern tiles are often geometric and symmetrical or the style has been exaggerated with asymmetrical tiles (different size triangles).

Travertine is a good example of how different shapes can be used to keep the backyard up to date around the pool. The tile comes in many different colours and is able to withstand weather change. The material is also able to absorb water allowing you to walk comfortably without slipping.

Limestone tiles have become common with home improvement and renovations. Not only does the paving tile neaten up the area around the pool but it can also resist different climate changes. Because it has a light appearance, it fits the modern profile.

Modern themes often work for any style house. The modern flair is flexible for most uses whether you have a geometric fountain in the front or a garden full of trees surrounding the pool.

The classic pools have more of a rough layout. Although rough, the area still looks good with its different sized stones and paving tiles. You will often find this look at water resorts for the cave concepts.

Flagstone has a natural appearance with its many shapes and natural colours. The paving tile is slip resistant and can be exposed to any temperatures. For this reason the flagstone tiles can be used for a long period of time.

Slate, which is similar to flagstone, is older and heavier than most tiles. Due to the materials it is composed of, it can be cut into any shape and is very easy to install around the pool. The material also comes in different colours to match the idea you have in mind.

Many classier tiles are made from the same materials as slate and flagstone. This would be the ultimate material to use for the exact picture you have in mind for the older and natural look.

Keys to Successful Vegetable Gardening in Alabama

Alabama Planting Zones

Alabama has three plant hardiness zones. They are zones 7, 8 and 9. This means lows of 0 – 30 degrees F at night. It’s important to plant the right plants in the zone you are in if you want a flourishing garden.

Frost Dates

It’s also important to know the last frost date and the first frost date. Warm weather crops like tomatoes can’t go out in the garden until the last frost date. Dates can vary by city, but the earliest frost date for Alabama is around March 21st. The last frost date starts around 10/7, but for many areas is later in October.

Know Your Soil

Fall is the time to start working compost, leaves, and other natural soil enhancers into your garden area. Have your soil tested to see what the pH balance is. Find your local Alabama extension office number and arrange to have your soil tested. You can get kits that will allow you to test it yourself. The soil pH should be around 6.0 to 6.5. Once you know the pH of the soil, then you can add the correct amount of lime or fertilizer to balance things out.

Vegetables That Grow Well

In Alabama, you can grow a wide variety of vegetables. The long, hot days are perfect for vegetables like tomatoes that need a longer growing season. Be sure to choose varieties that are heat resistant and resistant to local pests. All this information will be on the seed packet or in the seed catalog.

Here are vegetables that do very well in Alabama:

  • Radishes – Plant in early spring and again in the fall. Best choices – Cherry Belle, Icicle or Scarlet.
  • Tomatoes – Plant in April and again in July. Best choices – Atkinson, April
  • Celebrity, Better Boy, Big Beef, Husky Gold, Monte Carlo, Small Fry or Sweet Chelsea.

  • Peppers – Plant in April and again in July. Best choices are cayenne, habanero or jalapeno for hot varieties. Sweet varieties choose any banana or bell.
  • Potatoes – Plant in February and again in August. Best choices are Sebago, Red Pontiac, Red LaSoda or Superior.
  • Peas – Plant in February. Best choices Arrow or English.
  • Green Beans – Best choices – Contender, Derby or Green Crop.
  • Pole Beans – Best choices – Kentucky Wonder, Kentucky Blue or Dade.
  • Lima Beans – Best choices – King of the Garden.
  • Oriental Cabbages – Plant in July. Best choices – Bok Choi, Michihli, Napa or Pak Choi.
  • Collard Greens – Plant in July – Best choices are Top Bunch or Champion.
  • Spinach – Plant February – September. Best choice is Bloomsdale Longstanding
  • Mustard Greens – Plant February – August. Best choices – Red Giant or Florida Broadleaf.
  • Okra – Plant April through June. Best choices – Clemson Spineless, Emerald Lee or Burgundy.
  • Squash – Plant April and again in August. Best choices – any summer squash. Winter varieties choose acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash.

Pests To Watch Out For

Healthy soil can help keep pests away, but every garden has to deal with them. Some of the ones you will see in your Alabama garden include slugs, cutworms, wireworms, white grubs (Japanese and other beetles when mature), aphids, asparagus beetles, squash bugs, and weevils. You’ll need to hand remove pests such as slugs and beetles. Check your local nursery for what insecticides work best for the insects in your area.

Blossom-End Rot Disease

Although the disease does not spread from plant to plant, it is dependent on environmental conditions. As a physiological condition, neither fungicides nor insecticides will control this disease. However, environmental conditions can eliminate the condition:

  • Consistent water and calcium intake, and avoiding drought conditions.
  • Do not cultivate close to the roots, since destroying their root systems limits the roots’ ability to supply adequate water and nutrients to the plant resulting in Blossom-End Rot.
  • Excessive soluble salt which causes a decrease in the availability of calcium as salt increases.

Factors that can limit a plant’s ability to absorb calcium required for proper growth include fluctuations in moisture (either too wet or too dry), an excess of nitrogen in the soil, root damage during cultivation, and a soil pH that’s too high or low, or cold soil and soil high in salts.

To reduce risk of Blossom-End Rot:

  • Plant in well-drained, adequately aerated soil.
  • Maintain adequate soil water, at least 1-2 times a week during dry spells to a depth of 6 inches. Tomato plants need about 1.5 inches of water per week when growing fruit.
  • Always ensure the soil is warm enough prior to planting, to reduce nutrient loss.
  • Using fertilizers that are low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous provide the nutrients needed for proper growth. A fertilizer high in superphosphate, such as 4-12-4 or 5-2-50. However, applying too much fertilizer can cause the plant to grow too fast inhibiting the calcium from moving through the plant quickly enough.
  • Watering cones can be used to ensure water reaches the roots.
  • Applying mulch minimizes evaporation and helps maintain consistent soil moisture.

Innovations in Gardening Retail

Self-Watering Containers

Watering is one of those tasks that a gardener cannot neglect when healthy plants are the goal. Instead of trying to remember to keep the soil moist, special self-watering containers can now take care of this task for you. The planters themselves are stylish and attractive, fitting in virtually any growing area. They are ideal for holding either flowers or vegetables, and many even have an integrated trellis for climbing vegetation. After filling the container with soil and plants, simply fill the self-watering reservoir with water. The reservoir will release moisture slowly and evenly to keep the soil perfectly moist at all times. Plants will usually thrive when they receive this perfect level of moisture, and you can cross the watering off your to-do list. Explore a gardening retail center to find containers in different sizes and styles to fit any space and fulfill any need. Many are available in cedar and metal, and they often have additional shelves for storing tools.

Vegetation Monitor

Take the guesswork out of determining how and when to water plants by using a plant monitor. This ingenious device has a wireless sensor that will keep track of moisture levels in the soil, as well as a plant’s temperature, fertilizer, and light needs. The sensor will even take the monitoring a step further by sending reports directly to a smartphone or another mobile device, enabling you to provide the perfect amount of water, light, or fertilizer for a plant.

Garden Camera

Anyone who has struggled with yard damage from animals or insects will want to know the exact cause of the destruction. While camping out in the flowerbed is an option, there is an easier alternative. Installing a garden camera amongst the flowers or vegetables will enable you to record all the activity that occurs in a landscape. This camera takes pictures at varying intervals, as frequently as every minute. Situate the camera where it will have a full scope of the area. After reviewing the footage, you might just catch the culprits that are damaging your plants.

Realistic Garden Owl

Placing an owl decoy in a garden is not a new tactic; however, pests often catch on and stop fearing a decoy that never moves or makes any sounds. In contrast, an electronic owl will perch in a landscape to scare off critters that threaten flower and vegetable beds. This type of owl actually moves and makes realistic noises in response to special sensors that detect movement. The owl will turn its head in the direction of the movement and make frightening hoots to scare away little rodents.

Transplanting Native Plants

The key to successfully moving native plants is Root Pruning. To root prune, means to cut all roots with a Sharp Spade or it may be called a Sharp Shooter. Go out from the trunk one foot for each inch diameter of the trunk before you start cutting the roots. (Example 5 ft. Tree-16 to 18″ inch ball)

Staying out the right distance from the trunk as described above. Force the spade into the ground all the way around the plant. Try to uncut the plant so all of the roots are cut and lift slight. Drop the plant back into position, firm the soil and keep watered during the summer months.

If you want to move your native plant in late fall, root prune in early spring. Likewise, if you intend to move the plant in early spring, root prune the previous fall.

Please note, also, that when you move a plant from the wild to a cultivated area of your lawn, you may be changing its environment to such an extent that the plant will die. Here’s an example, if you move a plant from a dense shaded area to the sunlit part of your yard, the tree may die through over exposure even the bark of the tree may have to be protected by using a tree wrap.

When digging the plant from the ground, dig the soil from around the roots without completely exposing them. Remember the more roots you can save the better chance of success. Any extra soil left on the roots will help to retain the fine hair roots which absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil.

Evergreen must have a root ball with lots of soil when moving. I have had many clients during a rejuvenation of their yard, wanted to transplant plants that were not worth keeping. If you have special memories about a plant that is OK, just remember that the cost of moving the plant may be far above what a new beautiful plant would cost and it may or may not fit into the new landscape design.