web analytics

Archive | Home and Garden

Get growing and plant cool crops for an extra inning of healthy harvest

_awe-get-growing1

(BPT) – The growing season isn’t over with the arrival of cool weather. Until the first hard frost hits, you have time to plant, pick and plate delicious homegrown cool-weather crops – and save yourself some money in the produce aisle.

Favorable fall conditions mean growing cool weather crops is comparatively easy, with less care needed for a successful garden. Cool crops will start out strong, growing quickly and then slow their growth as days become shorter and cooler. You’ll also need to work less to protect your garden from destructive pests, as both insect and animal populations will taper off in fall. And since weeds will germinate less frequently, growing slower, weeding won’t be a time-consuming task. Finally, more rain and less sun and heat reduce the risk of crops falling victim to drought or too much heat.

_awe-get-growing2Perhaps the greatest advantage of fall gardening is that you’ll have fresh, healthy produce on hand well into the cooler season. Many autumn vegetables can endure the first few frosts if you provide them with proper protection, like row covers, cold frames or cloche. Some varieties—like spinach, collards and kale—actually  taste better when nipped by frost.

Fall growing tips

The first step to success is to know your growing season. In warm climates, fall crops can actually thrive throughout winter. In colder areas, the growing season will be shorter. Not sure when frost will arrive in your area? Check out the USDA frost map on the Bonnie Plants website.

Next, you need to ensure your growing spot is in tip-top shape. Regardless of where you choose to plant your garden – in the sunniest spot in the yard or in containers – it’s important to get the soil in shape; test the soil and add amendments if needed. Clear the ground and containers of any left-over garden debris, then add a 2-inch layer of mulch or compost, plus a balanced, natural fertilizer like Bonnie Plant Food, for a strong, healthy start.

Since fall’s growing season can be unpredictable, it’s important to give your garden every possible advantage. Get a jump-start and use transplants, like those offered by Bonnie Plants, in biodegradable pots, available at most garden retailers. They’re already six weeks old, so you’ll start growing right way, skip the volatile seed starting process and you’ll harvest six weeks sooner than if you start from seed.

Fall variety favorites

The plant pros at Bonnie Plants recommend some top performers for fall:

* Artwork Stir-Fry Broccoli – Also called stem broccoli, produces multiple long, edible stems with tender, bite-size heads instead of a single large head. This means you can harvest the small heads -perfect for stir-fries and sautéing.

* Brussels sprouts – Brussels sprouts are high in protein and vitamin C. These hardy “mini cabbages” grow along a thick stem and can stand up to frost.

* Bonnie hybrid cabbage – Cabbage heads will be ready to harvest when they’re firm and solid to the touch. Although they can withstand temps below 28 degrees, cabbages that go through a hard freeze won’t store as well, so be sure to harvest before temperatures drop very low.

* Georgia collards – The sweet, cabbage-like flavor of collards make them a favorite in southern dishes. Frost sweetens their flavor further, making collards a nutritious and delicious fall favorite.

* Spinach – A chill-loving green, spinach can produce abundant leaves ready to go from garden to table. Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse, and is high in vitamins A, C, K and E, as well as iron, maganese, folate and calcium.

* Cauliflower – Rich in vitamin C, cauliflower can withstand light frost and Bonnie’s can resist colder temperatures. Cauliflower is naturally low in calories and high in fiber.

Plant herbs too, like parsley, rosemary, thyme and onion chives; they’re wonderful culinary additions and they’re ready to harvest right away.

If you put proper practices into place this fall, you’ll get your garden off to the right start and reap an extra inning of a healthful and productive harvest. For more information on fall varieties and planting tips, visit www.bonnieplants.com.

Posted in Awesome Autumn, FeaturedComments Off on Get growing and plant cool crops for an extra inning of healthy harvest

Turn yard waste into gardener’s gold – compost

Gardener’s Supply Company Tumbler composters are great for small spaces and make loading, unloading and turning much easier. 

Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company
Tumbler composters are great for small spaces and make loading, unloading and turning much easier.

By Melinda Myers

Save time and money by turning landscape trimmings into a valuable soil amendment.

The idea is simple, just collect disease- and insect-free plant debris into a heap and let it decompose into a fine, nutrient rich material that helps improve the soil. Don’t add meat, dairy, invasive plants, weeds that have gone to seed or perennial weeds that can take root and grow in your compost pile.

Speed things up by layering yard waste with soil or compost, adding a bit of fertilizer to each layer and moistening to a consistency of a damp sponge. Further speed up the process by making the pile at least three-feet tall and wide.

Turn the pile as time allows, moving the more decomposed materials from the center to the outside of the pile. It’s a great work out and speeds up the decomposition. The more effort you put into composting the sooner you have rich organic matter for your garden.

Build the pile in a location that is convenient for adding raw materials and harvesting the finished compost. Consider placing the pile near a water source to make moistening the pile easier. Avoid poorly drained locations that may lead to the pile of compost becoming waterlogged. Soggy materials break down more slowly and may smell.  

Enclose the pile in a bin to keep the process neat and tidy. Purchase a compost bin or make your own from fencing, concrete reinforcement wire or old heat-treated pallets. 

Single bin wire composters are easy to assemble and move. Enclosed bins keep materials out of sight and neighbors or less enthusiastic family members happy. Look for bins of sturdy UV resistant materials, ventilation for efficient composting and designed for easy loading and unloading.

Tumbler composters are great for small spaces and make loading, unloading and turning much easier. The closed system also keeps out rodents, wildlife and pets. Add garden waste, keep it consistently moist and give it a turn. Continually adding fresh material slows the process, but you will still end up with good compost. Speed up decomposition with two tumblers. Fill one tumbler with plant waste and let it cook, while collecting fresh materials in the second. Not enough room for two? Try the Dual-Batch Compost Tumbler (gardeners.com), Compost Twin or other tumbler system with two individual bins mounted on one support. Further speed up results with an insulated unit like the Jorafoam Composter 125. The insulation ensures compost reaches higher temperatures for more efficient composting.

And don’t let cold temperatures or a lack of space stop you. Everyone can convert kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich compost with the help of red worms. Convert a plastic container filled with shredded paper into a home for the worms and place to recycle plant based food scraps. Or dress things up with a stylish bin like the green Worm Farm Composter and move the worms indoors for convenient recycling.

Add finished compost to your vegetable and annual gardens every spring to help build healthy soil and a productive and beautiful garden. Or spread a one-inch layer over the soil surface of perennials gardens every year or two to keep your flowers looking their best.

As you clear out the summer garden, put all that green debris to work. Convert it to rich compost for next year’s garden. Then enjoy the many benefits it will have on your landscape.


Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Gardener’s Supply Company for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ web site is http://www.melindamyers.com/www.melindamyers.com.

 

 

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, FeaturedComments Off on Turn yard waste into gardener’s gold – compost

Add some eye candy to your garden this fall

Photo credit: Longfield Gardens Dutch Master daffodils, Involve tulips and Muscari provide several layers of color in the garden.

Photo credit: Longfield Gardens
Dutch Master daffodils, Involve tulips and Muscari provide several layers of color in the garden.

By Melinda Myers

Shorten the winter season with the help of spring flowering bulbs that you plant in fall. These beauties often provide the first bit of color, fragrance and winter relief each year.

Look for new and unique ways to incorporate bulbs into your landscape. Create a seasonal water feature with a river of blue scillas and grape hyacinths meandering through the garden. Welcome visitors with a front door or walkway garden that blooms from early spring through early summer and is loaded with crocus, tulips, daffodils and allium.

Don’t overlook those shady spots. Many of these locations provide enough early season sun, before the trees leaf out, for bulbs to grow and flower. Use more shade tolerant spring bloomers like snowdrops, grape hyacinths, scillas, anemones, daffodils, fritillarias and Camassias in shady areas among hostas, ferns and other shade tolerant perennials.

Whether you’re new or experienced, growing bulbs is an easy endeavor. Just follow these simple steps to a beautiful spring garden.

Selection

Purchase bulbs that are dense and firm, and free of bruises or mold. Shop early for the best selection. Mail order sources will ship your bulbs at the proper planting time. If you buy locally, store the bulbs in a dry, well-ventilated and cool 60-degree location until it’s time to plant.

Don’t let deer, rabbits and chipmunks dissuade you from planting.  Include hyacinths, grape hyacinths, scillas, glory-of-the-snow, fritillarias, alliums and Camassias that the animals tend to overlook.

Design Ideas 

Include a variety of bulbs for added color throughout spring. Early bloomers like Glory of the Snow, crocus, early tulips and daffodils, and grape hyacinths (Muscari) are followed by mid-season daffodils and tulips along with fritillarias. Late spring blooming tulips and alliums finish off the spring display.

Combine several bulbs that bloom at the same time to double the floral impact or at different times to extend the color throughout the spring. You can create your own combinations or look for prepackaged combinations prepared by experts like those at Longfield Gardens (www.Longfield-Gardens.com). Low growing White Splendor anemone along with Ocean Magic grape hyacinth make a striking combination for under shrubs. The yellow blossoms of Dutch Master daffodils, pink Involve tulips and purplish blue grape hyacinths will give you several layers of color in the garden.

Or add a bit of eye-catching red to the garden throughout the spring with the Really Red collection of tulips. Red Emperor starts things out in early spring, followed by Oxford and ends with double-flowering Red Princess and Sky High Scarlet.

Location

Plant bulbs in well-drained soil for best results. Avoid areas such as next to the dryer vent or against the south side foundation of your home that tend to warm up early in spring or experience a winter thaw.  These bulbs often sprout too early and subsequent cold temperatures can limit or eliminate their bloom.

Reduce maintenance and boost your garden’s beauty by mixing bulbs with perennials. Once the bulbs are done blooming, the neighboring perennials mask the fading bulb foliage.

When and How to Plant

Increase growing success in poor soils by incorporating several inches of compost, peat moss or other organic matter into the top 12 inches of soil. This improves drainage in clay soil and the water-holding ability of sandy and rocky soils. Then be sure to incorporate a low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer.

Wait to plant your bulbs until the soil cools. This is any time after the night temperatures are consistently 40 to 50 degrees, but several weeks before the ground freezes.

Plant spring blooming bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is tall. Water thoroughly to remove air pockets and encourage fall root growth.  Add a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and reduce the risk of early sprouting.

So break out your trowel and garden gloves and get busy planting. You’ll be glad you did when spring arrives and your yard and garden are filled with a rainbow of beautiful flowers.

Melinda Myers has over 30 years of gardening experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Longfield Gardens for her expertise to write this article.  

Posted in Awesome Autumn, FeaturedComments Off on Add some eye candy to your garden this fall

Harvest your own home decor

awe-harvest1

(Family Features) Warm up your home with this season’s trendiest looks. Put your personal touch on your home’s decor with crafting projects that highlight the best of fall: copper detail, animal icons and pumpkins of every color, including white.

Create a seasonal tablescape or mantel decoration with these Harvest Fall Lanterns created by the crafting experts at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. The lanterns lend a coppery sheen to complement the seasonal hues of the pumpkins and gourds. Place them atop a swatch of soft plaid for a multi-textured look that celebrates the season indoors.

For a unique outdoorsy look, piece together a birch wreath using natural supplies such as twig stems, cattail stems and foliage.

Find more harvest perfect fall home decor at joann.com.

Harvest Fall Lanterns

Skill level: Beginner

Crafting time: 3-5 hours

Supplies and Tools: 

2 boxes fall pumpkin and gourd decorations

1 bottle (2 fluid ounces) cloud white paint

Black sponge paint brush

2 metal and glass lanterns

Hot glue gun and sticks

Directions:

Select two pumpkins to paint white. Paint them and let dry.

Choose multiple sized pumpkins and gourds and attach them to the inside bottom of each lantern with hot glue to begin building a design. Add more pumpkins and gourds, and glue them to each other.

Insert leaves and berries to accent pumpkins and fill in any empty spaces.

awe-harvest2Birch Wreath

Skill level: Beginner

Crafting time: 1-2 hours

Supplies and Tools:

Burlap garland

Dark brown raffia

Florist wire (22 or 24 gauge)

Burlap-wrapped wreath

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Wire cutters

Beige twig stems

Brown floral tape

2 pinecone pick stems

2 onion grass cattail stems

5 fall leaf foliage

5 bags medium birch rounds

Directions:

Craft bow out of burlap garland and dark brown raffia. Wrap wire around middle of bow and poke it into burlap wreath in desired location. Secure with hot glue.

With wire cutters, cut twigs to length and tape together with brown floral tape. Add pinecone stems to twigs and tape together with floral tape.

Wrap twig and pinecone stems with wire and poke wire into wreath under bow. Use hot glue to secure.

Add cattails and fall foliage to accent. Attach to wreath in desired locations with hot glue.

Cover remainder of wreath with birch rounds using hot glue.

Posted in Awesome AutumnComments Off on Harvest your own home decor

5 ways to prepare your outdoor living space for fall

bloom-outdoor-living-1

(BPT) – While everyone eagerly waits for spring each year and wishes summer could last a month or two longer, when it comes down to it, fall just might be America’s favorite season. It’s warm but not hot, the air has that clean crispness that’s hard to describe and perhaps the biggest draw, pumpkin-flavored everything. And let’s not forget about all those bright, beautiful leaf colors that come with the change in weather. So why start shutting down your outdoor living space with the first sign of fall?

Packing it in early is something dynamic design duo, Colin and Justin, would never consider. The home improvement stars of “Cabin Pressure” and “Game of Homes” make the most of their beautiful Western Red Cedar deck all year around.

“Oh my gosh  every single day, we’re on the deck – whether it’s summer, spring, fall, winter or whatever,” says Justin. “A deck isn’t just for three months of the year; a deck is what you want it to be. And if you love the great outdoors as much as we do, you can make it work.”

Here, then, are Colin and Justin’s top five design solutions to help extend your outdoor living well into the autumn months:

Start with the right deck 

bloom-outdoor-living-2Just because you procrastinated, doesn’t mean you need to wait until next spring to build or start designing a show-stopping deck. Whatever your plans, though, one thing almost everyone agrees upon is that there’s nothing quite like the rich, textural warmth of a Western Red Cedar deck to create a beautiful all-season outdoor living space. Low maintenance, surprisingly affordable and easy to work with, Real Cedar can’t be beat.

“We recommend getting your big ticket items first, around which you can seasonally adjust and tailor your look with different smaller and more affordable purchases,” says Colin. “And with decks, it’s worth investing in a really good product to start with like Western Red Cedar, which will last and last and last. Honestly, it just gets better with age, improving as the years pass, and it really is a showstopper.”

Screen it in 

Unless you’ve got a screened-in porch, you may still have to shield your outdoor living space from the occasional nippy breeze. For Colin and Justin, this is easily rectified with movable wicker screens that they store inside during the summer months.

“They’ve got a lovely weighty bottom to them,” says Justin. “The wind passes right through them and that’s a good tip for anyone using freestanding screens on the outside. If they’re too solid, the wind can catch them. But if they’re fretwork or open panels or cutout work, they’re good.”

Heat things up

Paradoxically, as the days grow shorter, you’ll wish they would last longer. There’s no more perfect way to cap off a perfect fall day than by sitting around a fire with friends and family.

“In the autumn, we have two propane operated fire bowls that sit smack dab in the center of our Western Red Cedar deck,” says Colin. Their gas-powered fire is safely contained in a stone bowl and leaves no ashes or embers. “And those fire bowls help us stretch out our summer a little bit. We also have two big patio heaters, which we can direct inward at either end of our terrace and they really makes a big difference.”

Bundle up with textiles

Sometimes all it takes to warm up your outdoor living space is some simple, yet chic, soft furnishings and yes, maybe even a change in wardrobe. (But don’t worry – you don’t have to say good-bye to your beloved flips flops, just “until we meet again next spring.”)

“We take out lots of really lovely textural throw pillows and rich woolen blankets – think Pendleton and Hudson’s Bay striped blankets – and we cozy up,” says Justin, adding, “And don’t forget your winter woollies. When the weather is changing, sometimes it’s less about what you add and more about what you put on in terms of clothing.”

Install a BBQ cover 

If you’re like Colin & Justin, you enjoy the thrill of the grill year round. This is where an easy-to-build, Real Cedar BBQ Cover really earns its keep. Made from nature’s most resilient building material, this sturdy and beautiful structure is going to last you a very long time. Just think of all the cookout possibilities!

“We BBQ all the time,” says Colin, “So we got a cover. That way we don’t have to worry about weather.”

For free downloadable project plans, visit RealCedar.com or for more fast facts on building with Real Cedar, download their free DIY app – available on the Apple App Store for iOS and at Google Play for Android.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off on 5 ways to prepare your outdoor living space for fall

Prep your home and lawn checklist for fall 

BLOOM-Fall-lawn-checkup-fc

(NewsUSA) – As autumn colors set in this season, make sure  your all-important home and garden upkeep checklist is ready.

Although the lawn is often overlooked during the fall, it’s actually the perfect time to make sure everything is organized before the harsher winter elements take hold. Paul James, host of HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard,” advises homeowners to start early—approximately six weeks before the first good freeze.

Here is a list of some of the tasks and items you should add to your fall checklist this year:

*Maintain the landscape. Tidy up the lawn, flowerbeds, bushes, gardens, etc. Remove unsightly foliage, dead stems, piles of leaves and other debris. Fluff your mulch with a rake so water can seep into the subsoil.

*Plant fall vegetables. Cool-season vegetable gardens can flourish with the right plants—lettuce, greens, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, potatoes and loads more.

Imagine all the hearty stews and delicious soups you could make from scratch.

*Keep muscles relaxed, and stay hydrated. Don’t underestimate the fall sun. Summer may be over, but hours of gardening in the sun can still leave you exhausted, strained and parched.

Remember to drink plenty of fluids, take breaks and stretch your muscles. If you suffer from backaches and muscle strains, keep some relief like Absorbine Jr. (www.absorbinejr.com) on hand. The natural menthol in Absorbine Jr. helps relieve muscle and back pain to make it a must-have for yard work. Its herbal ingredients also help provide relief from sunburn and gnat and other insect bites.

*Make room for indoor plants. Your potted or container plants won’t survive the winter outside, so it’s time to make room indoors for tropical plants, herbs and succulents. Potted perennials can be transplanted into a garden after trimming the roots and some top growth.

*Clean garage, shed or outbuildings. Once you organize your storage space, you can neatly put away all of your summer tools or patio furniture. Plus, your newly emptied planters will have a home next to all the other stuff families accumulate.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off on Prep your home and lawn checklist for fall 

Three simple ways to aid pollinators

You can help pollinator friends on National Honey Bee Day, National Honey Month and all year long.

You can help pollinator friends on National Honey Bee Day, National Honey Month and all year long.

(NAPS)—Here’s the buzz on an important aspect of helping our environment. Pollinator health can sometimes seem as complex as a beehive with the multiple challenges bees face. Pests, pathogens, diseases, climate change, improper use of pesticides and habitat loss are just a few. However, protecting pollinator health is something with which everyone can help.

For example, Feed a Bee is an initiative of the Bayer Bee Care Program that aims to tackle one of the most pressing issues facing pollinators today—lack of adequate forage. Just as humans can’t survive on chocolate alone, bees need nectar from a wide variety of plants. By working with individuals and organizations across the nation, Feed a Bee has planted more than 150 million flowers.

Consider these three easy ways to be extra sweet to honey bees and other pollinators:

  1. Tweet a Bee, Feed a Bee. Don’t have a green thumb? Never fear. Every use of the bee emoji and #FeedABee on Twitter and Instagram generates virtual seeds that Bayer will convert to real wildflower seeds and plant with The Wildlife Society at a Feed a Bee planting.
  2. Prepare for the spring. Surprisingly, fall is the perfect time to plant flowers to ensure pollinators have plenty to eat during the spring, and it’s never too early to begin planning your planting. Native plants and yellow, blue or purple flowers are pollinators’ favorites. Timing your planting perfectly is crucial to ensure they germinate and bloom at the proper time. You can read expert tips at beehealth.bayer.us/gardeners.
  3. Celebrate like a queen bee. Each year, National Honey Bee Day and National Honey Month roll around to remind everyone of the important role honey bees play. In 2016, National Honey Bee Day lands on Saturday, August 20, while National Honey Month lasts all September long.

To celebrate busy bees, visit beehealth.bayer.us to explore learning resources, recipes and more information about how you can help pollinators. If you’re ever near the Raleigh-Durham area, you can even plan a visit to the Bayer Bee Care Center by registering for a tour online.

Posted in Bloomin' SummerComments Off on Three simple ways to aid pollinators

Fall care for a healthier, better looking lawn 

Melinda Myers fertilizes a lawn to help it recover from the stresses of summer. Photo by Mark Avery.

Melinda Myers fertilizes a lawn to help it recover from the stresses of summer. Photo by Mark Avery.

By Melinda Myers

As summer fades into fall, it is time to help lawns recover from summer stress and prepare for the winter ahead.

Continue to mow your lawn as long as it continues to grow. Grow cool season grasses like bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches tall. Warm season grasses like bermudagrass, carpetgrass, centipedegrass and zoysia should be grown at 1 to 2 inches tall while St. Augustine should a bit higher, 2 to 3 inches, for best results. Taller grass is better able to compete with weeds. And there is no need to cut it shorter for the health of your lawn.

Mow often, removing no more than one-third the total height. Leave these short clippings on the lawn. They will quickly break down, adding organic matter, moisture and nutrients to the soil.

And as you mow you can take care of all those fall leaves at the same time. Shred the fall leaves and allow them to remain on the lawn. As long as you can see the leaf blades through the shredded leaves your lawn will be fine. And just like the clippings, they add nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

Fertilize your lawn with a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer like Milorganite (milorganite.com). University research has shown that fall fertilization is the most beneficial practice for home lawns. Less disease problems and slower weed growth means your lawns—not the weeds and pests—benefit from the nutrients. Fall fertilization also helps lawns recover from the stresses of summer because it encourages deep roots and denser growth that can better compete with weeds and tolerate disease and insects.

Those in colder regions growing cool weather bluegrass, fescue and perennial ryegrass should fertilize around Labor Day and sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving, but before the ground freezes.

Homeowners in warmer climates growing warm season grasses like centipede, Bermuda and zoysia should fertilize around Labor Day. Apply a low-nitrogen slow-release fertilizer then and in early October if overseeding the lawn. Make sure the last fall application is at least one month prior to the average first killing frost. Fertilizing later can result in winter damage.

Weeds often gain a foothold in the lawn during the stressful summer months. A healthy lawn is the best defense. Even with proper care, weeds can bully their way into the lawn. Try digging, root and all, to remove small populations of weeds. Weeding can be a great tension reducer and physical workout.

If this isn’t possible, consider spot treating weeds or problem areas with a broadleaf weed-killer. Those looking for more organic options may want to try one of the more eco-friendly products with the active ingredient Fehedta or Hedta. Whether using traditional or environmentally-friendly products read and follow label directions carefully.  All these products are plant killers and can cause damage to other plants if not applied properly.

Fall, when the lawn is actively growing, is the best time to core aerate or dethatch northern lawns suffering from thatch build up or compacted soil. Thatch is a layer of partially decomposed dead grass plants that prevents water and nutrients from reaching the grass roots. Use a dethatching machine to remove thatch layers greater than one half an inch. Or core aerate the lawn to create openings in the thatch layer and help reduce soil compaction to encourage root growth and allow water and nutrients to infiltrate the soil.

Overseeding your lawn in the fall helps increase thickness and improves the overall health and appearance of the lawn. For best results, overseed directly after aerating.

Begin implementing some of these strategies and soon you’ll be on your way to a healthier, better looking lawn for the coming growing season.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and spokesperson for Milorganite. Myers’ website is http://www.melindamyers.com/www.melindamyers.com.

Posted in Bloomin' SummerComments Off on Fall care for a healthier, better looking lawn 

Businesses backing away from bee-killing pesticides

BLOOM-Businesses-backing-away

By Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

New tests found significant decreases in the use of bee-killing pesticides on “bee-friendly” plants. That’s good news for bees.

Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute took samples of plants in 13 U.S. cities, including Ann Arbor and Detroit, and compared them to samples taken in 2013 and 2014. They were looking for neonicotinoid insecticides in plants sold to gardeners and home owners.

In the previous tests, half of the plants tested positive for the toxins. This time, only 23 percent did. Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said retailers are starting to sell “bee-friendly” plants.

“Almost 70 retailers across the U.S. have made commitments to stop selling plants—and in some cases, products—that contain bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides,” Finck-Haynes said. “And so that’s what’s really shifting the entire garden industry.”

The Bee Informed Partnership at the University of Maryland said beekeepers across the U.S. lost 44 percent of their honeybee colonies between April 2015 and April 2016. Researchers blame the varroa mite, pesticides and malnutrition caused by changing land use.
Bee losses have to stop, Finck-Haynes said. But some retailers are still selling plants pre-treated with pesticides. She said she hopes consumers will put pressure on those companies.

“Over 50 percent of Americans are more likely to shop at a Lowe’s or a Home Depot because they’ve made that commitment to stop selling these bee-killing pesticides,” Finck-Haynes said. “So, this really demonstrates to Walmart, Ace and True Value that they could potentially lose their customers if they don’t make these formal commitments.”

More than 100 businesses, cities, universities, states and countries have restricted use of pesticides that are lethal to bees. According to a survey by Greenhouse Grower magazine, nearly three-quarters of growers who supply mass merchants and home-improvement chains said they will not use neonicotinoids this year.

A list of retailer’s and grower’s policies on pesticide use is available http://www.foe.org/beeaction/retailers.

Find a list of companies selling pollinator-friendly seeds and plants at this link: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/bee-protective-pollinators-and-pesticides/what-can-you-do/pollinator-friendly-seed-directory.

Get a copy of the new study here: http://webiva-downton.s3.amazonaws.com/877/a1/5/8972/GardenersBewareFollowupReport_4.pdf

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off on Businesses backing away from bee-killing pesticides

Is your lawn and garden bird-friendly?

BLOOM-Is-your-lawn_garden-bird-friendly

(StatePoint)

Birds are more than just beautiful visitors to your lawn and garden, they are an important component of a healthy local ecosystem.

Making your property a safe haven for birds will beautify your garden and is the right thing to do. Here are a few simple steps to take to keep birds safe.

Offer Food and Shelter

Many birds will simply be using your yard as a rest stop on a long migration. Keep this in mind and fill your yard with native species of trees, shrubs and flowers to provide shelter and food.

You can supplement this nourishment with strategically located bird feeders that will prevent birds from striking your home’s windows. Ideally, bird feeders should be located within three feet of a window or more than 30 feet from a window.

Prevent Bird Strikes

Ninety-eight million birds are killed annually in the U.S. when colliding with windows, according to Western EcoSystems Technology estimates. Stem the loss of life by exploiting the keen vision of birds.

“When windows are visible to birds, they will enjoy a safer migration,” says Spencer Schock, founder of WindowAlert, a company that offers decals and UV Liquid that is visible to birds but not people.

Products from WindowAlert are proven to effectively alter the flight path of birds and prevent window strikes. An easy weekend project to complete this season is applying decals to your home’s windows and using UV Liquid to fill the gaps in order to form a visual barrier for birds. The ultraviolet reflecting coating will look like etched glass to humans, but be quite visible to birds. The coating can fade over time, so remember to periodically replace decals. More best practices can be found at windowalert.com.

Limit Other Hazards

Pet cats can prove hazardous to birds. Keep cats inside or monitor their time outdoors in order to prevent attacks.

Promote a natural food source for birds by avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers that kill off the insects that birds need to thrive.

By taking a few important measures at home, you can create a haven for migratory birds right in your own backyard.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off on Is your lawn and garden bird-friendly?