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Designing a Shade Garden

At my house, I have a small shady area, which I have been piecing together for a few years. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but it has always been sort of a dump for perennials that I don’t know where else to plant, but no longer. This year I have resolved to design an organized shade garden.

I have never been a great fan of hostas; however after a visit to see a hosta collection owned by a Master Gardener friend and his wife, I discovered just how beautiful hostas can be. The combination of different colors and textures is a site to behold. One I am going to try is a combination of varieties like Kabitan, a small leafed light green and yellow combination, backed by Hosta Blue Moon with its large blue-green leaves.

A small collection of coral bells resides in my present shade garden. The different leaf colors contrast nicely. However, because of the deep shade, they haven’t been blooming quite as they should. Such varieties as Heuchera Amber

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Techniques for a healthy productive organic garden

Not only will you grow delicious, fresh, healthy foods; you will also contribute to the health of the environment and community by not using harmful chemicals. But organic gardening doesn’t just mean not using chemicals. It is a method that encourages life and diversity in the soil, plants, and insects that live in the garden.

The component that puts the ‘organic’ in organic gardening is organic material (OM). This is the stuff that was once alive and, with the help of beneficial bacteria, is now decomposing in your garden. For a great garden, you want as much of this decomposed matter as possible.

Addition of OM. If you are ambitious this time of year you can start putting OM into your garden now. Put a thin layer of dead leaves, straw, hay, or grass clipping on your garden right away. It will break down, and when it is time to start planting you will have already incorporated some ever-so-important OM into your soil.

Compost. A key component to organic gardening is compost. Incorporate a fair amount

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Bountiful Harvest from Your Patio

At National Garden Bureau, we like to encourage even the brown thumbs out there to attempt gardening, even if on a small scale. And what better way to start than with produce grown on your own patio?

Container growing offers many benefits, not the least of which is that you can put a “garden” just about anywhere. Cement balconies on a highrise building can become urban gardens, and a backyard deck or patio becomes a produce garden at your fingertips. Some of the top vegetable breeders are encouraging this trend by breeding smaller more compact varieties that still are prolific producers.

Without a doubt, container gardens will require less weeding than their in-ground counterparts. This makes them ideal for busy people who love gardening but have limited time. However, watering has to be monitored more closely. Containers in hot sun can dry out quickly, and even a gentle summer breeze will wick moisture from plants. Be prepared to water daily or even twice daily during long, hot, dry spells.

As for supplies, the shopping list is small:

* Appropriately sized container (bigger is usually better)
* Good quality growing medium
* Young plants or seeds
* Stakes or cages if growing vining edibles


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Roof Gardens

If you’re looking to redecorate or design a new rooftop area, leave it to the award winning Garden Club London, who recently designed and installed the wonderful John Lewis roof garden on Oxford Street (London).

The devoted team of specialists are known for transforming rooftop space intopracticalroof gardens. Their top notch horticultural knowledge means they can simply pick out and help clients choose plants that are suited to life on a roof garden. They even plant your flowers for you!

The service enables you to discuss, plan and choose from a range of designs to make the perfect outside area. The teamgive you tips and advice then get to work with the construction and planting. No dirty work for you!

Newer developments are easiest to work with, especially if they have purpose built roof terraces. However, if you own an older property, do not panic. Garden Club London will help you apply for planning permission if it’s needed.You will also be given the opportunity to work with an architect or structural engineer to make sure everything is built/ renovated in the most efficient way possible! You really do get your money’s worth.

Garden Club Londonensure the outcome of their projects always fulfil

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Why Organic Pest Repellent Might Work Best for You

These heavily marketed, dangerous and expensive pesticides are not only harmful to living things, but they are also not effective over a long period of time. Luckily, there are natural solutions to pest problems that are probably just lying around your house.

  • When powdered sugar and baking soda are mixed in equal parts and spread in cockroach infested areas, is a good killer of roach.
  • Boric acid kills effectively cockroaches and other insects though not sucking insect or larvae when a teaspoon is spread and the roaches ingest the acid.
  • Winged pests are naturally deterred by cloves which even smell better than moth balls. A water trap can be created by filling a basin with water with a suspended light over it.  Attracted moths to the light will crash, burn and fall into the water.
  • Weed can be eradicated naturally with corn gluten meal. When applied before weeds sprout, weeds will not grow and it is also a natural fertilizer.
  • Diatomaceous earth which is made of fossilized diatom remains is one old form of insecticide. The glass-like sharp surfaces cut through insect cuticle and insect dies from dehydration.  Earwigs, box elder bugs and ants are killed by diatomaceous earth.  It should only be applied to
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Learn the Importance of Maintaining the Efficient Water Heating Systems

Many homeowners plan to purchase a new water heater when their warm shower turns cold. Most of them do not give a second thought while installing a typical heating system. According to the experts, a little extra care and maintenance can reduce the number of system repairs. Moreover, it will extend the life of the system and avoid potential replacements. In this article, you will learn essential tips to maintain the water heaters.

Why to maintain the systems

Here are some of the amazing benefits of maintaining the water heater systems regularly. It will decrease the costly breakdown in the long term. If your system has stopped producing hot water due to leakage or failure, you do not have to worry much. The water heater systems will decrease costly repairs. The best thing is that you do not have to spend much on maintenance cost. To know more about costs and repairs, visit plumbingplus.net/services/water-heater-repair-san-diego/

In order to increase the efficiency of the system, you have to get it serviced twice a year. If you do not take care of the heating system at all, it will eventually decrease the efficiency. As a result the system will take longer time to heat water

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Field-proven tips for successfully raising a summer vegetable garden

Now that you’ve wisely decided to create your own nutritious, money-saving, organic, summer veggie garden, here are some basic gardening tips for your success.

(1) Check for first and last frost dates:

Location is a key factor when deciding to plant a garden; it determines when and what you plant. For example, if you live in an area with a short growing season (less than 120 days), it’s prudent to not plant vegetables that require a long growing season. Tomatoes, eggplants, green peppers, melons and winter squash need a longer growing season.

(2) Choose a raised bed garden if you have back problems:

Raised bed gardening is a method that requires no digging or tilling, and is also known as “lasagna,” “straw bale” or “square foot” gardening.

Click here for detailed information on raised bed gardens.

(3) Test the soil:

Testing the soil every three years is an essential diagnostic tool that a gardener should use to analyze the soil for nutrient quality and characteristics such as soil texture and pH.

Experts advise that there are 18 foundational nutrients necessary for productive plant growth. Additionally, each plant has a

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Helpful tips for keeping pests out of your organic garden

One of the biggest challenges that organic gardeners have long faced is invasive pests, which as you may well know tend to target food crops that have not been treated with toxic pesticides. But maintaining a truly organic garden is not an impossible task, especially if you are willing to take the time to employ some tried and true methods of deterring pests without chemicals.

One of the most obvious, but often overlooked, ways of protecting your food crops from pests involves 1) covering them with a protective layer of fabric. Organic Gardening magazine recommends using floating row covers that are propped up over crops to prevent birds, squirrels, aphids, caterpillars, moths, beetles, worms, and other invasive species from damaging plants and stealing their fruit.

“This translucent, white, porous polyester fabric acts as an insect barrier, while letting in up to 80 percent of the available light,” explains Organic Gardening. “The material is sold by the yard, generally in rolls 4 to 8 feet wide. You cut it to the length you need, then drape it over metal hoops, attach it to wooden supporting frames, wrap it around wire tomato cages, or simply lay it

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Planting garden center flowers is good for bees and other beneficial insects

Recently, some Internet and media sources have suggested that buying and planting flowers from your local garden center could be harmful to bees because traces of neonicotinoid insecticides were found in the leaves and flowers of plants randomly purchased from garden centers around the country. Although it is true that concentrations of over 100 ppb of imidacloprid in nectar or pollen are toxic to honey bees, and lower concentrations (10 to 100 ppb) could affect their foraging behavior and immune response, the potential harm to pollinators in the yard and garden from buying and purchasing flowers from a garden center has been exaggerated. In fact, planting annual and perennial flowers and flowering trees and shrubs is expected to be beneficial for bees and other beneficial insects.

Greenhouse and nursery growers started using alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides this year, and although the transition is not complete, the amount used is less than in previous years, and the plan should be fully adopted in 2015. Michigan State University began working with growers in March of 2014 to identify pest control strategies where neonicotinoids have been used so that alternative strategies could be adopted. Also, experiments were initiated to

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Lessons Learned with GrowLab

It is not absolutely clear who is more enthusiastic about the GrowLab® in Mr. Flint’s classroom–the class or Mr. Flint. There is no doubt, however, that there is a whole lot of learning and fun going on in the fifth grade in Cambridge Central School in Cambridge, New York.

In this kindergarten through twelfth grade rural school of about 1200 students Carl Flint has found his “calling” as an elementary school science teacher. Formerly an agriculture teacher at the secondary level, he left teaching for 12 years to pursue his dream of becoming a dairy farmer. His farming phase over, he returned to the classroom in 1995 to teach younger students. When his brother alerted him to the GrowLab® program, Carl jumped at the opportunity to provide hands-on experience in growing and tending plants to his students. In his small school he has some discretion with the science curriculum and is able to work information about plants into it for the two sections of 25 kids each that he teaches every year.

GrowLab® programs

The GrowLab® program for school children is sponsored by the National Garden Bureau (NGB) in a joint venture with the National

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Tomatoes are such a staple in the modern diet that it is hard to believe there was a time when this versatile fruit was once thought to be poisonous. Thankfully this member of the nightshade family has been known for centuries now to be a delicious and healthful addition to our diet and is now one of the most popular garden vegetables.

For many people, tomatoes are the most challenging, yet desirable, vegetable crop to grow. But a ripe, juicy homegrown tomato is so delicious and nutritious, people will go to great lengths to produce as many as they possibly can in their gardens. One look at the pale, hard, orange baseballs that grocery stores pass off as tomatoes will also explain why so many gardeners eagerly await the first ripe tomato from their gardens.

Considering that tomatoes are a tropical fruit native to South America, it’s amazing

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Sowing edible greens and sprouts indoors, reading seed and plant catalogs, and growing peace lilies, are some of the gardening activities for this month.

If you have a set of grow lights or bright windowsill, you can grow mesclun or other quick-growing greens to add to early spring salads.  Fill a tray with moistened seed-starting mix and sow seeds thickly, then cover with one-quarter inch of soil and mist the surface.  Don’t let the surface dry out.  As soon as the first seeds germinate, keep the lights about 4 inches above the tray.

You can start your own sprouts for salads easily under even lower light, buying seeds for this at garden stores or online from catalogs.  You can buy special sprouting trays that stack, or simply sprout seeds in a jar covered with cheesecloth.  Moisten seeds overnight, then drain and place a layer in the container.  Rinse and drain daily.  Many seeds can be used such as beans and peas, mustard and other similar greens, grains such as wheat, grasses such as oats, lettuce, and even onions and their relatives.

Whether you use warm-white and cool-white fluorescent tubes or special plant lights to start seedlings, they lose light intensity after

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Gardening in an Unpredictable Climate

Climate change is putting more and more stress on world ecosystems. As gardeners, we face these challenges daily as we struggle to adapt to unpredictable weather patterns and changing seasons.

Climate change is affecting every region of the world a little differently. Some areas are getting hotter and drier, others warmer and wetter. Changing rainfall patterns mean that gardeners can no longer depend on the seasonal showers we depend on. Instead, those rains could come down with enough force to wipe out not only our gardens but our homes.

As growing seasons lengthen and cold seasons grow shorter, gardeners will have more time to plant. On the surface, this might look like a good thing. However, changing seasons and shifting hardiness zones come with their own set of challenges.

Sustainable agriculture groups are spending a lot of time and energy researching the ways in which our farms and gardens can adapt to these challenges. Here are some of their suggestions.
Embrace New Varieties And Diversify

One of the ways we can mitigate the impacts of climate change in gardening is embracing new varieties. Unfortunately, this might mean saying goodbye to old favorites in exchange

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Corn History and Lore

Evidence shows that maize (corn) was domesticated and cultivated in central Mexico, in what is now the Tehuacan Valley. Scientists theorize that it is the product of crossing two types of grain or grasses. One ancestor, teosinte is a grass-like plant that resembles a type of wheat. The kernels are spaced along the stems much like wheat and the grains have a sheath, or hull, like so many grass varieties do. Between 7,000 and 9,000 years ago, people started selecting plants that displayed desirable characteristics and whether it was an accident or by plan, the plant was crossed with another primitive grass plant and the results were the first plants that vaguely resembled modern corn. The image at right shows the teosinte, the second-generation maize in the middle with modern corn at the bottom.

cornKnowledge (and more importantly, seeds) of this new grain spread quickly through North and South America and by the time Columbus arrived in 1492, maize was a staple food crop of most of the native peoples in this hemisphere. Indigenous peoples depended on the dried harvest for much needed winter stores, but they also wove useful items such as baskets, mats and moccasins

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Control of Grass Weeds

Witchgrass, quackgrass, goosegrass, dallisgrass, and true crabgrass–it doesn’t matter what you call them, these grass weeds are tenacious invaders of our lawns and flower beds. For control in turf-grass, the best method is maintaining a healthy, vigorous lawn that crowds out these unwanted relatives. In a lawn that is sparse and poorly, the only method that gives results is application of species-dedicated post-emergent herbicides (such as those containing clethodim or fluazifop) or pre-emergent products such as Dimension® (dithiopyr) or Tupersan® (siduron). Most turfgrass experts recommend the pre-emergent products as the best method.

Pre-emergent herbicides prevent weed seeds from germinating. The products are applied usually in the fall and again in spring to catch both annual weeds and perennials. Post-emergent herbicides are require contact with the growing portion of the weed and do not prevent seeds from germinating. Each product is different, so be sure to read the instructions, warnings, and proper handling details.

The biggest problem when dealing with these grass weeds is their vigorous reproductive capabilities. Many of them spread by

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Fatsia japonica, a Shady-Loving, Evergreen Shrub

Cultural PreferencesImage

Fatsia flourishes in slightly acid, rich, moist but well-drained soil in full to partial shade. Fertilize if leaves turn pale or yellow or otherwise indicate a nutritional deficiency. Although Fatsia is tolerant of heat, humidity, pollution, deer, and rabbits, it should be protected from harsh, drying wind and from burning sun.

Even though fatsia is capable of growing to 12 feet tall, many growers cut off the stalks long before they attain that stature. They become top heavy, and the weight of the leaves may cause the plant to lean or even fall to the ground. New stems are positioned right at the base of the tall stems just waiting to take their place. Cutting old stalks back to the ground rejuvenates the plant and makes it once again a young-looking, attractively rounded landscape specimen. Variegated forms are available. One attractive cultivar is aptly named ‘Spider Web’. Image

Fatsia is easily propagated by stem (or stalk) cuttings. Simply cut the stalk into pieces about 9 inches long and place in damp soil. Use the young, upper part of the stem for propagation. The bottom, woody part is much harder to root. New plants

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Preserving Cut Flowers

There’s nothing like fresh flowers around the house whether they come straight from your garden or from a florist. But when you take the time to put together an arrangement, you’d like it to last forever or at least for more than a few days! Here are some step-by-step tips for extending the vase life of cut flowers.

Tools and Materials

  • Stem-cutting shears or sharp pruners
  • Pail
  • Vase
  • Water
  • 7-Up
  • Bleach

Cut flowers. Cut flowers in your garden in the morning before the dew has dried, or in the early evening. With stem-cutting shears or sharp pruners, snip above a node or dormant bud to spur new blooms. Put stems in a pail of lukewarm water as you cut them.

Recut stems. Recut stems on a slant indoors under water to eliminate air bubbles that block uptake of food and water. Certain types of flowers (including celosia, sunflower, and zinnia) benefit from scalding the stem ends in boiling water for 20 seconds or over a candle flame to stop nutrient-rich sap from oozing. To prevent decay, remove bruised leaves and foliage below the water line.

Condition flowers. Condition flowers several hours before arranging. Rest stems in lukewarm water in a cool,

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Lawn and Garden


Sooner or later, plant disease will enter your garden. However, there are ways to reduce disease in your garden and in some cases, even prevent plant disease. Knowing how to tell if a plant is healthy, picking disease resistant plant varieties and being able to identify the primary types of plant disease are all ways to help control plant disease.

Plant diseases are either a fungus, bacteria, or viral. Symptoms like stunted growth, spotted leaves, wilting, and yellowing leaves are all indications of possible trouble. Not all diseases can be treated, and yet others are effectively controlled with organic or synthetic methods

Browse articles about garden diseases

Eco-Friendly Ideas

There are multiple ways we can practice environmental stewardship and go green in our own little corner of the world. Eco-friendly ideas and suggestions come to the forefront every day. Many of those ideas can be applied to gardening. As we strive to offer smart resources for better gardening we will accumulate those ideas here.

We welcome your input as well. Please feel free to use the contact us form to share your eco-friendly practices. We will post as many as we

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What Does A Seed Need

Seed is the least expensive component of gardening, so it makes good sense to buy the best quality seed you can obtain.

Start With The Seed Packet

The packet usually gives you a great deal of information about how to grow the seed successfully. Whether you purchase the seed packet from a retail store or a mail order catalog, the packet is the first place to look for guidance.

The Miracle of Seed

Seed is the botanical equivalent of an egg. It contains the very beginnings of a plant, along with enough “food” to get the seedling started. But a seed won’t sprout and grow unless four things are provided: light, heat, air and water.

Light. Once sprouted, all plants need sunlight to grow. But some seeds germinate better in darkness, and some seeds germinate better in light. Again, the seed packet should indicate this, or a good garden reference book will tell you. Germinating seeds that like darkness is simply a matter of covering them with the growing mix or germinating mixture you sow them in. For complete darkness, put the seed flat in a black plastic bag after you have watered

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Spectacular Desert Plants

Noah Webster was wrong. In his dictionary, he defined desert as “a desolate or forbidding area.” Clearly, the famed lexicographer had never traveled through this country’s Southwest. If he had, he’d have been amazed by the vast palette of colorful, vibrant perennials, shrubs and trees that are native to our Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave deserts–plants that present a softer, gentler vision of desert landscapes.

Yet it’s difficult to fault Mr. Webster. Many gardeners who live in this part of the country are also largely unaware of the many landscape possibilities these native beauties provide. The typical home landscape in desert communities, from El Paso to Palm Desert to Las Vegas, falls into one of two categories. It either duplicates a Back East look, dominated by a labor-intensive thirsty lawn better suited to the Carolinas or it is a stark gravel-and-cactus display that emphasizes the harshest aspects of a desert, using the kind of thorny, prickly plants that Webster probably had in mind. This all-too-common landscape is at best a caricature

The true desert landscape is a combination of many types of plants, a large percentage of which are very showy and put on a dazzling display

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Tropical Visions

The words tropical vines conjure up many image

s–Tarzan swinging though the jungle, warm islands with lush vegetation, brilliant flowers attracting butterflies and birds–but always plants that are exotic, colorful, and king-size. However, if you don’t live in Hawaii, parts of coastal California, or southern Florida (humid parts of USDA Climate Hardiness Zones 10 and 11), you’ve probably dismissed the possibility of growing tropical vines. But think again: provided you have a greenhouse or large south-facing window and are willing to give these plants a little extra care, these breathtaking beauties can be yours. Grow them in pots, and you can move them outdoors for the summer in many areas.

Here are 10 choices, all but one grown for their showy flowers over a long period, and one grown for its unusual leaves. Try one or two, and you may want to try more. See below for planting and care.

* Golden trumpet vine (Allamanda cathartica). This vine from the South American tropics bears 4-inch-wide sun yellow flowers at the branch tips. The funnel-shaped flowers are produced from summer to fall. This vine is easy and almost pest-free, perhaps because the leaves are poisonous. Left

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You Can Have Your Garden and Eat It, Too

Somewhere, sometime, someone started a pesky rumor that growing vegetables is more work and trouble than growing flowers. Let us now lay that rumor to rest – it isn’t so. Keeping a vegetable garden is no more trouble than a flower garden and, for many gardeners; the rewards are even greater because (in one sense) you can have your garden and eat it too.

The Seven Joys of Vegetable Gardening

If you haven’t tried growing vegetables in your garden, you don’t know what you are missing. Not only does a neatly tended vegetable garden look great, but you can enjoy many of the fruits of your labors well into the winter months. Here are seven reasons to start or continue a vegetable garden

Exercise: Gardening does require some work, but this can easily be considered exercise. Stretch to pull that nasty crabgrass…dig to remove that dandelion root…breathe deeply to fill your lungs with fresh air. All of these gardening activities help to burn up calories and increase your physical well-being.

Food: An obvious benefit to vegetable gardening is that it results in good things to eat. And fresh vegetables always taste better than any