Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Native Trees for a Bird Garden

There are many native trees out there, but which ones are more apt to bring a variety of birds to your landscape? These are all going to give you a variety of different birds; from song birds, to game birds, to even hummingbirds. If you are a bird lover, then dust off those binoculars and plant a few of these in your landscape.

Aesculus pavia L. (Red Buckeye)

This deciduous tree can also be a bushy shrub in some locations. It is a fast growing to its mature height of 15-25 feet. It will flower in dark red tubular flowers form April to May, and is a prime pick for those who want a splash of color. Hummingbird friendly, this tree will also attract bees. It prefers shady locations and will bloom early for first color in your garden. Keep in mind; this is a short lived tree.

Amelanchier arborea (Michx. f.) Fern. (Common Serviceberry, Shadbush)

Serviceberry can either be a deciduous tree or a large shrub, growing up to 30 feet. It produces white flowers in March and reddish purple berrylike fruits from June to August. For bird lovers this tree can't be beat; over 40 species of birds eat the serviceberry's fruit and it's a preferred food of the gypsy moth. It will be a beautiful addition to any butterfly garden.

Cornus amomum P. Mill. (Silky dogwood)

Another great selection for bird lovers, the silky dogwood will grow from 6-15 feet. It has abundant small white flowers from May to June, and will produce blue berry-like fruit from August to September. It's this fruit that makes it a favorite for birds. It favors partial shade. Although it does flower, it is decidedly non-fragrant.

Frangula caroliniana (Walt.) Gray (Carolina Buckthorn)

This tree gets up to 15-30 feet tall and needs a spacing zone of 15-20 feet. It prefers full sun to partial shade. There are pale yellow bell-shaped flowers in late spring to early summer. Carolina Buckthorn also has nice shiny deciduous foliage and good fall color. It is a must have for butterflies and birds, due to the fragrant nature of the blooms. It is a moderately growing tree, and has multi-trunks. Watch for showy red berries that turn black by mid fall. BEWARE: All parts are poisonous if ingested.

Ilex vomitoria Ait. (Yaupon)

Another holly tree, this one gets 15-30 feet tall and needs 8-10 foot spacing. It likes full sun to partial shade and is adaptable to the soil conditions. There are white inconspicuous flowers near spring time. It is an evergreen, drought tolerant, and a fast grower. Birds will eat the berries, so expect a multitude of birds coming to your landscape when this is around. There is a smooth milky bark to the tree that perks some interest. BEWARE: All parts are poisonous if ingested.

Guide to Basic Garden Tools for Greenhouse Gardening

No matter whether you’re greenhouse gardening or gardening outside in your yard, you need to have some specific garden tools. In fact, it’s next to impossible for you to have any kind of garden without tools. Sure, you could dig in the dirt with your bare hands, but why would you want to? Greenhouse gardening, in particular, requires you to have some specific equipment.

Types of Greenhouse Tools

The first type of tool you’ll need is something to cultivate the soil. This might include tools such as trowels, shovels, spades and other sorts of digging tools. For traditional gardening, you might need bigger tools than these, but for a greenhouse these hand tools are generally just fine.

The good news for greenhouse gardeners is that they can usually choose their soil and don’t often need power tools. There is no need to rent or purchase a tiller to break up the soil. You can choose the specific soil for the type of plants you want to grow in your greenhouse garden.

Depending on the plants you are growing, you might need some pruning tools, too. Things like pruning shears, lopping shears, hedge shears, pole pruners, and pruning saws are the sorts of equipment you’ll need for pruning. Here again, it depends on the kinds of plants you want to grow. These tools are especially useful for trees and shrubbery.

Since all of your plants need to have water in order to survive, you need tools to deliver moisture to the plants in your greenhouse. Unlike an outside garden, you can’t rely on the rain to provide that necessary moisture for your plants. Whether you use a simple watering can or an elaborate sprinkler system with a timer, you must have a way to deliver water to your plants in your greenhouse garden. While a watering can is more precise and cheaper, a sprinkler system can save you all sorts of time. Here again, it really is up to you as to the type of tool you want to use.

Having the right gardening tools will save you a lot of time, so you can spend less time working and more time enjoying the fruits of your labor. There are many gardeners who enjoy getting a little dirty while they plant their flowers, but extensive gardening is easier with even the most basic of gardening tools, like a rake, trough, or a hoe. Aside from the essential dirt, seeds and sunlight, your gardening tools will help you be a success in your greenhouse!

About The Author
Michelle Torres has nearly 20 years experience using and designing greenhouses and is an avid gardener. You can find additional useful greenhouse information at http://www.greenhousecatalog.com

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gardening Does Not Need To Stop After Your Autumn Harvest. Even In Winter, You Can

Gardening does not need to stop after your autumn harvest. Even in winter, you can plant herbs and where weather permits winter crops, such as lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, silver beet and spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli, broad beans and finally onions and beetroot.

Winter can also be a good time to be planting herbs such as sage and thyme, dill, mint, parsley and chives.

Some gardeners plant lettuce direct into the ground in rows. however you can sprinkle some lettuce seeds in a small area close together and prick out the largest of the lettuce seedlings to sow, this way you can spread your crop over a longer period.

If your ground is not going to be covered three foot deep in snow you could try sowing Arugula, sow direct in rows 10 centimetres apart (3.9in). Arugula is sometimes called Rocket, Roquette or Italian Cress. It has a peppery nut flavour.

You can start harvesting when the leaves are 7 or 8cm long (2.76in to 3.15in), taking just a few leaves at a time. Grow virtually the same as cabbage. Arugula is a cool weather crop, it runs to seed early in hot weather. Harvest in 30 to 60 days.

Broad Beans can be grown in rows, 50CM apart (19.69in), directly, sow seed 20cm apart (7.87in), sow 5 centimeter deep (1.97in),These beans are good for cool climates. Sow while the temperature remains between 5 degrees Celsius to 18 degrees Celsius (41f to 64.4f). You find the short pod type tends to mature later and gives a fatter bean.

harvest in 120 days Plant all of your fruit trees during the winter too. Spray existing fruit trees with a copper-based fungacide as the buds begin to swell.

Winter is also a good time to prune existing fruit and ornamental trees while they are bare. You can also prune grape and berry bushes and vines during Winter.

If you want to plant bare rooted roses, do that in Winter too.

But most of all...have fun and remember a garden can be very forgiving.

About The Author
Gordi Hall is a dedicated home gardener and enjoys teaching others how to succeed with their gardens. For more great gardening tips for every time of year, visit Gordi's website.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mulch Your Spring Flower Bulbs in the Fall for a Beautiful Spring Display

Flower bulbs need a good, long, winters sleep. Like some people we know, if they wake up before they are fully rested, they get kind of cranky, and then they don’t bloom well at all.

Actually what happens is during a mild winter, the soil stays too warm, and the bulbs begin to come out of dormancy early. They start to grow, and once the tips emerge above the soil line, they are subject to freezing if the temperatures dip back down below freezing. And that’s usually what happens. After the bulbs have emerged, they freeze and then don’t bloom at all, or if they do it’s a very sad display.

Another reason this happens is because the bulbs are not planted deep enough. They may have been deep enough when you planted them, but as the soil goes through the freezing and thawing process, the bulbs can actually work their way up in the ground. One way to keep your flower bulbs sleeping longer, which will protect them from freezing, is to mulch the bed.

In the fall just apply a 3-4” layer of well composted mulch. This layer of mulch will do a couple of things. It will maintain a higher moisture content in the soil, which is good, as long as the soil isn’t too soggy. Well composted mulch also adds valuable organic matter to the planting bed. Organic matter makes a great natural fertilizer.

A 3-4” layer of mulch also acts as an insulator. It will keep the soil from freezing for a while, which is good because you don’t want the bulbs going through a series of short cycles of freezing and thawing. Then when the temperatures drop below freezing and stay there for a while, the soil does eventually freeze. Then the mulch actually works in reverse and keeps the soil from thawing out too early. Keeping it in a frozen state is actually good because the bulbs remain dormant for a longer period of time.

When they finally do wake up it is spring time, and hopefully by the time they emerge from the ground the danger of a hard freeze is past and they will not be damaged. If you can keep them from freezing, they will flower beautifully. The extra organic matter will help to nourish the bulbs when they are done blooming, and the cycle starts all over again.

We also plant annual flowers in the same beds with our spring bulbs. By the time the danger of frost is past and it’s time to plant the annuals, the top of the bulbs have died back and are ready to be removed. The mulch that is added in the fall also helps to nourish the annual flowers, as well as improve the soil permanently. Anytime you add well composted organic matter to your planting beds, you are bound to realize multiple benefits. The key words here are “well composted”. Fresh material is not good.

Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit his most
interesting website, http://www.freeplants.com and sign up for his
excellent gardening newsletter, and grab a FREE copy of his
E-book, "Easy Plant Propagation".

Winter Gardening

by: Candee Stark

Ok, the title "winter gardening" might be a tad bit misleading. I am not suggesting that you actually garden during the winter but you should be using this time to plan your upcoming garden. As you look out at your yard and garden area during the cold months of winter, let your thoughts run wild and you will be amazed at what images you can conjure up. You might even want to try some of your new found ideas this spring!
1. Pour through garden catalogs, flip the pages and fold down the corner anytime you find something you like. Go back to it often until you decide what new plants and flowers you would like to try this spring.
2. Purchase a gardening book or magazine. Look at what other people are trying in their gardens and see if their ideas inspire you to try something new.
3. Look out your windows and try to visualize how you would like your yard and garden to look like. Study the sun....notice the shady spots.
4. Make a list of what is important to you, in other words, what do you want from your yard and garden? Do you want to create a patio area for entertaining, a vegetable garden so you grow all of your own vegetables, a quiet area for relaxing, or maybe an area that will attract wildlife. Anything is possible but it is important to recognize what you want before you actually start any gardening project. Ultimately, knowing what you want will save time and money!
5. Take lots of notes and draw any ideas you might come up with.
(even those ideas that wake you up in the middle of the night!)
6. Of course, visit online nurseries to see what they have to offer. Many sites offer suggestions and interesting gardening articles as well.
Before you know it spring will be here, you will have a shovel in your hand, and you will have a plan! Happy Gardening!

About The Author
© 2005, Candee Stark and Flowers & Garden.com
This article is provided courtesy of http://www.flowers-and-garden.com/ - You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Best Gardening Gifts for All Occasions

There is nothing nicer than giving one of the best gardening gifts for friends and relatives who love nature and all its beautiful aspects right on their own backyard. The problem you may encounter is choosing the best gift there is for your loved ones.

To ensure that your gift will be appreciated by the recipient and also your budget, here are some guidelines you should consider:

In choosing the type of gardening gift, consider your budget. When your budget is holding you back from buying the best gift, don’t fret. There are garden accessories and gardening wear that would suit your fund.
Gardening gloves, footwear and kneepads, may be bought in a variety of colors, texture, and material. You could choose the perfect accessory for the person you’re giving the best gift to, which won't cost you much. Simply do your homework - research either on the net or rummage through catalogs.

Common garden hand tools may be found in most hardware stores. The handiness of hand gears like pruning shear, secateurs, hoes and a watering can will never lose their magic touch.

Surely, with these hand tools, your friend will appreciate how much you know that he really is into gardening. What would be nicer than two or three tools gathered nicely in watering can. This helps not only your budget but also a nice way to give it.

If you have prepared a bigger budget, specialized gardening tools may steal the spotlight. Before choosing which tool to purchase, make sure to check which tool is missing from your gardener friend’s backyard. To prevent duplication, you may even stealthily ask your friend which gardening tool she is dreaming of having.

Digging tools like rakes, shovels, pitch forks and spade are some of the basic tools used by professional gardeners as well as beginners. These types of equipment may be expensive, but it surely will be money well spent.

The most extravagant gift you could give a friend is some type of heavy gardening equipment. These gardening machineries could serve well as wedding present or a house-warming gift for a gardening enthusiast.
Automatic lawn mowers, electric cultivators, dirt diggers, hedge trimmers, brush cutters, or trolleys could provide so much ease to your gardener friend’s daily routine. These gardening gifts, which are considered the nature-lover’s dreams, may give your friend a reason to smile all year round.

Your gift could be as simple as a water resistant garden gloves or a more expensive gift like an electric cultivator. When the recipient realizes you have given a gift that complements his passion, expensive or not, it would certainly become the best gardening gifts your friend has ever received.

Remember, for the holidays or for that birthday gift gardening utensils are always a wonderful gardening gifts.

About The Author Bob Roy
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Disadvantaged Reservations Turn to Community Gardens

(NewsUSA) - Gardening might be a trendy, new hobby for eco-conscious hipsters, but its purpose -; to provide food for a family -; still holds promise for many Americans. On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located in Slim Buttes, S.D., community gardens give families the only fresh fruits and vegetables they eat.

Doctors and health advocates frequently tell Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. But many impoverished communities lack access to grocery stores, not to mention the income required to feed a family all-organic meals.

On Pine Ridge, many homes are without running water, sewers or electricity. For them, community gardens provide not only entertainment, but also exercise, fresh food and the pride that comes with working to provide for loved ones. The activity from gardening and the fresh food produced help fight obesity and diabetes, problems that afflict American Indians at rates nearly 10 percent above national averages, according to most statistics.

But the reservation's gardening doesn't come easily. Pine Ridge, the eighth-largest Indian reservation in the U.S., sits on some of the nation's poorest land. Rain comes infrequently, and heat, wind, weeds and pests make plants difficult to grow.

For this reason, Running Strong for American Indian Youth (www.indianyouth.org), an American Indian-led charity based in Virginia and affiliated with Christian Relief Services (www.ChristianRelief.org), started its Slim Buttes Agricultural Development project, named after the remote community on the southwest corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation where it is based. Through the project, families can apply for support for their gardening efforts. Running Strong provides funds, seedlings and seeds, tilling and fencing, to help families start their gardens, while also giving seasonal jobs to local Native youth, among whom unemployment reaches over 80 percent, to drive tractors, deliver seedlings and set up drip irrigation and fences.

The 500 family gardens on the Pine Ridge Reservation feed 3,800 people, about 10 percent of the population. Before the community gardens, residents hadn't eaten fresh fruits and vegetables in decades. Now, families grow tomatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, beans, melons, peppers, lettuce, spinach, squash, artichokes and corn.

During tough economy times, charities can use all the help they can get. To learn how you can help, visit www.indianyouth.org.

Gardening Projects Help Children Flower

(NewsUSA) - American parents may bond with their children by taking them to farmers' markets or showing them how to grow potted plants, but in other areas of the world, growing plants may literally help keep families together.

In Ecuador, for example, children were often left alone while their parents went into the city to work. Because children had to take care of the home while their parents were away, many stopped going to school. ChildFund International, an organization that focuses on working with children, as well as with families, local organizations and communities to create environments in which children can thrive, decided to take a unique, community-wide approach to solving this problem -- by growing a garden.

ChildFund Ecuador started training the community in flower and vegetable cultivation, as well as business administration. The local bank, which ChildFund helped develop, gave local fathers the loans that they needed to build greenhouses for roses, carnations and tomatoes. Today, more than 285 families now use their greenhouses as their primary source of income, so the parents don't have to migrate into the cities to work, and children can attend school regularly.

The Actively Engaged Mayan Women, or Mujeres Emprendedoras Mayas, in rural Tecpan, Guatemala, are using macro tunnels -- or miniature greenhouses -; to grow tomatoes, thereby creating income and improving food security for their families. As the women become more able to create their own income, they also gain the ability to better care for their children.

In ChildFund Uganda, children and their parents planted more than 10,000 eucalyptus trees and 5,000 pine trees to create two new forests. In an area where environmental degradation has reduced the quality of life, the new forests provide inexpensive firewood, protection against soil erosion and an economic boost, as the trees provide timber for housing and other projects.

"Forests will be a major source of timber, which will be mainly used in house construction, and houses are very important to us," said 14-year-old Nalubega Florence, a student at St. Andrew Primary School.

To learn how you can help communities come together through the plants that they grow, visit ChildFund International at www.ChildFund.org.