Choosing Vegetable Seeds for Garden

Other considerations include garden size and design. Large vegetables, such as squash, should not be planted in a small garden since these ground vine plants require a spacious area. When confined, they will not be able to give good fruits. However, in case you have a small garden, add a trellis so that the climbing pants will grow upwards and not outwards.

Perhaps the best garden contains vegetable seeds that are productive during the entire growing season. Go for an assortment that will thrive in the first, middle and latter part of the summer, and some that will produce vegetables during the fall. As an example, green beans grow during the early part of summer and throughout the season, corn in the middle to latter part of the summer, and pumpkin or squash during the fall. It can be tedious to come up with a garden so naturally, people do not want to enjoy the harvest just once.

There are several different ways to buy seeds. Once spring approaches, interested individuals can find seed packets in many places like home depots, garden centers or supermarkets. These products make the process easier by offering information such as the best time of planting for a particular region, the estimated harvest date, plus planting instructions. In general, these instructions include the distance between the seeds and the number of seeds that can fit in every hole.

Gardeners can ask local farmers to supply them with seeds that will best suit their area. They are equipped with the experience and knowledge needed to grow productive plants in their location. There are farmers that sell vegetable seeds on stands along the road or at their farm.

Those who like a certain variety can go for heirloom vegetable seeds. These vegetable varieties have already been around for at least 5 decades, and preserved by devoted growers. They are able to produce big compatible plants from seeds and supply varieties that are not available in supermarkets. Small growers consider them as some of the best-tasting plants that are available on the market.

Lawn Sprinkler System Maintenance

Water Production

The first thing to do is find out how long it takes your sprinkler to produce an inch of water. You can discover this information using a watering gauge, or by placing an empty tuna can under a stream of water. This information acts as a baseline. It allows you to anticipate your monthly irrigation costs, and it also reveals the standard amount of water used in an allotted time. By identifying normal function, you’ll be able to notice when something is not working properly.

Watering Schedules

Your watering schedules need to be adjusted depending on the season. Also, different zones of your yard contain different species of plants and need be tailored and adjusted accordingly. You can hire a serviceman to complete these settings if you aren’t confident, or you can set and monitor water output yourself using a “weekly watering number” for each section. The guidelines for weekly watering numbers can be found online, and include the necessary water percentages for various types of vegetation and climates.

Regular Inspections

Regularly inspect your overall watering system to identify leaks that will lead you to broken lines and misdirected heads. First, do an overall visual assessment, checking for pools of water and wet sidewalks. Both broken lines and misdirected water will cost you money, so take a few minutes once a month to make sure your water usage is efficient. A large, in-ground lawn sprinkler system should then be assessed zone-by-zone for leaks and damage to ensure proper functionality. Make any necessary repairs or replacements as soon as they are found to avoid worse, more expensive issues later.

Check Spray Patterns

Next, check the spray patterns of each sprinkler head to make sure water isn’t blocked by dirt, plants, or other material. If the heads are clear, but you’re experiencing poor water pressure, you may need to get your backflow checked. The backflow connection needed for automatic irrigation is required by law to be checked annually, but having it checked more often is a good idea. This testing process should be completed by a state-certified tester. Rules and regulations vary depending on your area, so contact your local water provider for specific information.

House Plants

The immediate excuse is ‘oh when I grow anything it immediately dies!’ Anything or anybody taken out of their correct environment is not going to be happy. I would venture to suggest this is time for a new approach. If you know you have a dodgy history with plants then take the necessary steps to change. Ask appropriate questions to find out what will make the plant you have chosen flourish – do they like to be in the sun or do they prefer the shade, what about water -?a lot or a little? If you are still unsure, then the Internet is really the place to go; or Gardening Groups on Facebook, or Wikipedia. There are also sites dedicated to houseplants. Surely by taking the time to investigate, you are investing in the success of the plant. Nothing says wasted money more than a dead plant.

So you have your plant home and it is sitting there. It may or may not need water but it will certainly need a nice container. Think about your interior design room scheme. What would be the most appropriate? Decide the theme. Is your room rustic, then a lovely basket would look great. If modern, then you need something that is clean lined and simple – Perhaps black, white or silver in colour. A room surrounded in antiques needs a planter that fits in with the scheme. Old soup tureens make wonderful containers. I also adore those lovely swans that you can fill with plants – they can look really interesting. Why not look round on Pinterest for ideas, go to your local flea market, car boot sale or trawl eBay to see what you can find that you like. Another option is terracotta pots, the older and more interesting the better. As with any container make sure that watering will not do any damage, appropriate saucers fitting in your general overall design are most important. There is nothing more heartbreaking than water damage on a beautiful dark wooden polished table.

Care of your container is vital. Always line your basket with a black liner. Make sure if you are using china that limescale does not become an issue. Re-potting a house plant gives ample opportunity for cleaning the container too. Glass too for a more modern display also has to be kept clean and smart.

Don’t forget by having houseplants in your home you are improving your health! Plants produce oxygen. There is a theory supported by NASA that houseplants remove up to 87% of airborne toxins. To do this, you need 15 – 18 good sized plants in 6″ – 8″ pots. By helping you feel calmer and providing a purpose helps you focus outward which in turn can help your blood pressure drop. Your plants can contribute a ‘Zen’ feeling in a room. So with all this very positive information, I hope that you are feeling more confident about giving them another go.

The next step is to decide what effect you are looking for. Do you want just foliage or do you want flowers as well? Realistically unless they are orchids, you will be looking at a limited timeframe when they are at their best. Orchids by the way flower for 3 months plus! If you fancy growing them, then please do check out Kew Gardens to learn more about their orchid extravaganza. Other flowering alternatives include lavender or jasmine, peace lilies even a shrimp plant; Christmas cactus, azaleas, streptocarpus and begonias.

If you have the space, see if you can grow your plants from seed. Coleus do well here and they are fun to grow as they have the most amazing coloured leaves going from pale green/white to the darkest of plums.

Foliage plants are a joy. They take less maintenance and have all year round interest – often seen in offices. In this category, you might also consider Air Plants. They are something a little bit special as they only need spraying not watering. Well worth investigating. Foliage plants are interesting, do you keep them as specimen statements or do you group them for impact? You need to use plants with different textured leaves and different colours. Be warned, group plantings can be more difficult as all the plants will have different watering needs.

In this category, check out ferns, spider plants and fiscus. Peace lilies cross the divide as their flowers are somewhat exotic yet the leaves look great by themselves. Aloe Vera and eucalyptus have health benefits. Herbs growing in the kitchen look most authentic and obviously have a use too. Also in the heat, the aroma of the plants is really attractive. Curry plants are fun here. I would also encourage you to check out sedums. Fascinating plants that look great in a modern scenario. Pinterest have lots of beautiful examples of how they can best be set off.

Winter Care for Potted Plants

If you wish to include plants in containers in your garden, you have to make sure you care both for plants and containers during the winter.
Here are few tips to follow for best results:

  • Plant early – to get container plants off to a good start, you have to plant early. You cannot expect to plant them in the winter and see them thrive. According to expert gardeners, container plants need at least a month of warmer weather. It is good to start them in the autumn so that they can establish their roots before freezing weather sets in.
  • Pick the right pots – there are many pot types you can pick from. Resist the urge to go with beautiful clay or concrete pots. These absorb a certain amount of moisture, which can freeze in low temperature and thus crack the container. Plastic and resin are much better in that regard since they retain no moisture and those will not break or crack in the winter weather.
  • Don’t forget to water potted plants – winter damage most frequently occurs due to desiccation (drying out). You must not forget to water containers when they are dry, especially before you expect a hard freeze. It is best to water in the morning because that is when the soil is warming up.
  • Plants need good drainage – when you water plants, you have to ensure the water drains properly. Otherwise, it will accumulate, expand and possibly break the container. The planters need to have drainage holes and well-draining potting soil. Also, don’t let plants sit in a tray of water, as most winter plants don’t like soggy conditions.
  • Pick your plants wisely – container soil can get colder than ground soil, so it is important to select plants that do well at least one zone colder than the area you are located in.
  • Placement is essential – although sunlight is rather weak in the winter, you should still locate your potted plants in the sunniest possible spot. Also, make sure they are away from any strong winds that can dry the plants or topple over the pots.
    Protect pots – group your pots together for better protection and place them against a sheltered location. You can also wrap them in burlap if you suspect winter weather can cause them some damage.
  • Feed them slowly – one thing you should know about plants in the winter is that they actually absorb fewer nutrients then. Don’t even try to overwater and overfeed them – it won’t help them one bit. What you can do for them is use enriched soil and a well-balanced organic fertiliser when you plant them. This will give them a good supply of nutrients for the winter.

Grow Herbs Successfully

If you have no garden or very little space for growing crops, then herbs are the choice before any other. They can be grown in borders with flowers because they often have attractive foliage. They can be grown in small raised beds or containers in courtyards or on sheltered balconies. If you have no outside space in which to grow plants, herbs can be grown in pots on a kitchen windowsill.

If herbs are to be left outside over winter, it would be best to keep them by the back door for easy access in the cold weather. Some plants like French tarragon, rosemary, sage and marjoram will survive through the winter months. These perennials benefit from being cut back in the summer after flowering. This keeps the bush compact and the fresh, new leaves are good for picking. Others like bay will have to be kept in a frost-free greenhouse or conservatory over winter.

Herbs are a perfect crop for children to grow because you only need small pots to grow enough for your needs and those pots can be in the shape of objects or characters to make the experience more fun. Herbs can also be grown as individual plants in the children’s flower or vegetable patch if they have one.

Then the fresh herbs can be added to simple dishes like salads or omelets. Children can make these using their own crops. Parsley can be added to egg sandwiches and basil to cheese and tomato sandwiches. Chives can be added to omelets.

If you have heavy soil in your garden, putting herbs in a container with free-draining soil is your only option to ensure they will grow well. Put broken crocks at the bottom of the pot and use compost suitable for herbs. Grit added to the compost can help to improve drainage. All herbs benefit well from organic matter added to the soil.

Mediterranean herbs such as marjoram, rosemary and thyme like a position in full sun and will need well-drained ground. They can cope with growing in quite poor soil. Marjoram is loved by bees and butterflies and grows best in full sun but the variegated varieties can stand a little shade.

Some other herbs like parsley and chives prefer moister conditions and will tolerate some shade. Mint has similar requirements but must have its roots restricted in a container because of its invasive habit. The container can be sunk into the ground but any escaping roots should be kept in check.

Basil, dill and coriander are annuals and will have to be sown from seed each spring or early summer. Kept inside, basil may last for more than one growing season but it will become leggy. Basil grown outside likes full sun and heat; it is thought to originate from tropical Asia. Parsley is a biennial plant which flowers in its second year but can be sown every spring to ensure a continuing crop.

Sow a few seeds every two or three weeks from mid-spring to mid-summer to ensure a constant crop for harvesting. This won’t be too time-consuming if each new crop is planted into a single pot. Sowing instructions come on seed packets. Keep the packets for future reference if you intend collecting your own seed. Keep seed in labelled paper bags or envelopes to keep it dry, never in plastic bags.

The whole planting project can become a learning experience for your children.

If they are going to sow seeds in pots, get them to devise a planting programme on a calendar. They can count days and weeks to set out a plan for succession sowing.

Furthermore, they can draw a diagram for a planting scheme on a plain sheet of paper if they are going to plant up a small herb bed. This could be in a window box, an old sink or small raised bed.

They can keep a folder containing empty seed packets to remind them of a plant’s needs and sowing instructions. They can keep a gardening dairy with notes of their ideas, activities and results.

Save Water Outdoors

  • Avoid watering the lawn every single day. This is really wasteful considering that weekly watering is enough for the lawn even during summer months. You should actually avoid watering the lawn for some time when there has been a heavy downpour.
  • Plant your plants in such a way that they can make use of your roof runoff when it rains. Landscaping should actually be done smartly in that you can have water thirsty plants around areas where water collects and takes time to drain away.
  • If you must water your plans and the lawn, then make sure that you do this during early mornings before the temperatures rise and wind speed increases. When you time your watering schedules you will be able to minimize evaporation that can be wasteful. Consider the weather conditions before watering.
  • Use a broom to sweep clean your sidewalk or driveway instead of using a hose that uses gallons of water to clean off the debris and leaves from these areas. Alternatively, you can use an energy efficient blower for the same task.
  • Position your sprinklers so that your water does not get wasted on paved areas and instead lands where it is really needed. You should also consider irrigation devices that are water efficient such as drip irrigation and soaker hoses which go a long way in saving water.
  • Consider a higher cut for your lawn so as to promote deeper grass root growth, hold soil moisture and to offer shade for the root system so moisture is not lost faster. It is also very important that you avoid using fertilizer for your lawn because it increases the water need by the grass. If you must, then choose fertilizers that have nitrogen that is water soluble.
  • Consider a shut-off nozzle for your hoses so you are able to adjust the spray as needed for different areas. Once finished, you should remember to turn off your faucet instead of the nozzle because it can leak even when shut. It also helps to ensure that your sprinklers and hoses remain attended because you end up wasting too much water when you forget to turn them off. Make use of a timer to make sure you give only the intended amount of water to your garden.

About Snow and Landscaping

Snow acts as a natural insulator, so your landscaping will survive under snow all season, it’s when we come to shovel it that it may cause a problem or two. If everything is under a foot of snow, do you know where your driveway starts and ends? What about your walkway?

The most important and obvious thing is to keep your shovel on hard ground. Seems easy, but it is a lot harder than you may think. Where that landscaping starts is lost in a sea of white. This is why it is a good idea to use driveway reflectors to mark the boundaries of your hard surfaces. This way, you’ll know when to stop shoveling and hopefully you won’t have gone into any trees or shrubs that are hidden.

If there is a lot of snow it’s a good idea to shake it off of trees and shrubs that you can see, just so that the branches aren’t burdened with the extra weight. The roots will thank you for the added protection, but the branches, especially if they are on the small side will not.

Don’t pile the snow that you have shoveled onto your landscaping if you can help it. This just adds more weight. Instead try to pile it on the side of the driveway or walkway with no landscaping, or put it on the lawn itself. Remember to keep it away from public sidewalks and the road or you may end up with a fine.

If you are using a snowblower, be careful where you shoot the snow. Again, avoid trees and landscaping and the public walkways around your property. People don’t want to be blasted with snow from a snowblower and trees don’t either!

Lastly, be careful where you salt. Remember that during a thaw and in the spring the water will carry the salt residue with it and you don’t want that ending up on your plants or trees. You don’t want them damaged so limit the salt to areas away from landscaping if you can.