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Archive | Diggin’ Spring

The Truth about Hot Peppers

 

Golden cayenne peppers are hot with a Scoville heat level of 30,000 to 50,000. Photo credit: courtesy of Bonnie Plants 

Golden cayenne peppers are hot with a Scoville heat level of 30,000 to 50,000. Photo credit: courtesy of Bonnie Plants

By Melinda Myers

Don’t be afraid to add a little spicy heat to your meals this season by growing a few hot peppers in the garden or containers. It’s easier than you think and many of the hot pepper myths floating around the garden are simply not true.

Don’t worry about your hot peppers heating up your sweet peppers. Peppers are normally self-pollinated. If an insect happens to move the pollen from a hot to sweet pepper, it will not affect the flavor or heat of this year’s harvest. If you save the seeds from a cross-pollinated pepper and plant them in next year’s garden, the plants they produce may have hot or sweet fruit (or a little of both), but only time will tell.

And don’t assume all green peppers are sweet or you will be in for a surprise. Jalapenos are typically harvested when green and others, like habanero, Anaheim and Poblano are hot, whether harvested when green or red. You’ll also find that hot peppers can be yellow, orange, brown and, of course, red.

You can turn down the heat when preparing your favorite recipes, too. Contrary to popular belief, all the heat in hot peppers does not come from the seeds. While partially true, the majority of the capsaicin that gives hot peppers their heat is in the white membrane that houses the seeds. When the seeds are growing they may also be coated with extra capsaicin from the membrane. So remove the white membrane and the seeds, just to be safe, if you want to turn down the heat.

The spicy heat of hot peppers is measured in Scoville Heat Units. The ratings are based on the amount of sugar water needed to neutralize the spicy heat in the extracted capsaicin that has been diluted in an alcohol-based extract. A panel of five taste testers decides when the spicy heat has been neutralized and then assigns the rating. Today many companies use a chemical process (liquid chromatography) but translate their results into the popular Scoville heat units.

The Scoville heat unit ratings vary from one type of hot pepper to another, with Poblano rating between 1000 to 2000, jalapenos 2500 to 6000, habaneros at 100,000 to 300,000 and one of the hottest, the ghost pepper, at 1,000,000 to 2,200,000 Scoville heat units.  Check online or the Homegrown with Bonnie Plants mobile app (for iOs and Android) for the Scoville ratings, growing tips and a Pepper Chooser to help you pick the best varieties to grow. Ratings may also vary from individual plants within a specific type based on individual plant differences and the growing conditions.

Whatever kind you grow, be sure to label hot peppers when planting, harvesting and storing to avoid any mix-ups. The sweet banana pepper, for example, can easily be confused with hot banana. This could make for an unwelcome surprise when preparing, serving and eating.

Also, consider wearing rubber gloves and avoid touching your face and eyes when working with hot peppers, as they can burn. Wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards when finished to avoid any future issues.

And don’t worry if you are having a bad day when planting your hot peppers. Contrary to some old adages, planting hot peppers when you’re angry won’t make the peppers hotter, but unknowingly taking a bite of a hot pepper may very well change your mood.

 Melinda Myers has written over 20 gardening books and has a master’s degree in horticulture. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments and The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Bonnie Plants for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com. 

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Seven secrets to longer life for exterior paint

Thinking of painting your house? Check out these tips from the Paint Quality Institute to help the paint job last longer.

Thinking of painting your house? Check out these tips from the Paint Quality Institute to help the paint job last longer.

Spring House, PA—When it comes to exterior paint, there’s no fountain of youth, but there are ways to add years of life to a new paint job, says Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert at the Paint Quality Institute. Here are the secrets:

1. Carefully prepare the surface. Before starting to paint, it’s important to make sure surfaces are clean and sound, free of all dirt, mildew, and loose or peeling paint. Areas with no paint at all—either because they are new, or because the old paint has completely worn off—should be spot-primed.

2. Work in good weather conditions. For long-lasting results, apply exterior coatings on mild days; ideally, when the temperature is between 60 and 85 degrees F, with little or no wind. In these conditions, primer and paint cure” more slowly and form the most protective dry film.

3. Prime the surface. Primer creates a tackier surface to which paint can bond more tightly, thus reducing chances that it will peel or blister. As a bonus, the paint will have more uniform color and sheen. (Alternatively, apply two or more coats of one of the new paint and primer products.)

4. Use top quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint. This type of paint is much more durable than ordinary house paint. It has more flexibility, better adhesion for more resistance to peeling and flaking, and superior color retention. When applied to a properly prepared surface, top quality 100 percent acrylic paints can last 10 years or more, compared to about four years for lower quality paint.

5. Be careful with color choice. According to Zimmer, earthtones tend to retain their color, while other hues, such as bright blue and bright red, will fade more quickly. Ask the counterperson how your preferred hues will fare over time, and choose your color scheme accordingly.

6. Apply thicker coats. The thicker the dry paint film, the more protection you’ll get. So, apply paint liberally, and never thin it with water. Paints are formulated to be used as-is in order to provide the longest-lasting protection.

7. Add one extra coat of paint. This will further thicken the dry paint film, which will enable your home to better withstand whatever nature throws your way. It’s a smart move that may very well add a couple of additional years to the life of your paint job.

For more expert advice on exterior painting, visit the Paint Quality Institute blog at blog.paintquality.com.

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Beyond Curb Appeal

DIG-Living-landscapes

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Gardening with an enchanted twist

DIG-Enchanted-garden1(Family Features) – While the stress-relieving capabilities and health benefits of gardening are well known, a twist on this timeless hobby offers a way to add charm and a whimsical feel to your home and garden. Creating an enchanted fairy garden can boost imagination and offer a family-friendly way to hone your green thumb.

These miniature landscapes, often hidden in a secluded area of your garden or planted in decorative containers, are an easy way to refresh your interior or exterior decor and can be revamped seasonally to align with any design theme. The possibilities and styles are endless, so to help you get started, the crafting experts at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores created these fairy garden projects featuring a host of tiny details to bring your scene to life. Pottery, moss and tiny figurines will make your garden complete.

Find more inspiration to create magical little villages from start-to-finish at joann.com.

Fairy Garden Broken Pot

Crafting time: 3-5 hours

Skill level: Intermediate

Supplies and Tools:

• Planter container with broken edge

• Smaller pots to fit inside

• Packing peanuts or bubble wrap

• Small bag of brown moss

• Bag of Spanish moss in Basil

• Hot glue gun and glue sticks

• Sitting fairy

• Mini birdhouse

• Resin swing on a tree

• Green bushes

• Green trees

• Little resin house with moss

• Resin stepping stones

• Resin sitting bench

• Wire cutters

• Red succulent plant

Tightly fill bottom of planter with smaller pots and packing peanuts or bubble wrap. Cover packing peanuts/bubble wrap with moss, gluing in place with hot glue.

Place fairy items as you desire, securing with hot glue. Trim bottom of plant to a 1-inch stem and secure it in place with hot glue.

Naturalist Fairy Garden

Naturalist Fairy Garden

Naturalist Fairy Garden 

Crafting time: Weekend project

Skill level: Some experience necessary

Supplies and Tools:

• Unfinished wood tray

• Small can gold spray paint

• Old rag or paper towel

• Small can walnut wood stain

• Sheet of green floral foam

• Old serrated kitchen knife

• Hot glue gun and glue sticks

• Sheet of adhesive sheet moss

• Wood hut

• Bag of small pebbles

• Package of stepping stones

• Bottle of clear nail polish

• Bag of assorted round mosses

• Artificial pine trees

• 2-3 medium white birch rounds

• Fairy garden accessories such as teeter-totter, small bridge, twig archway, garden shepherd hook with hanging basket, woodland animals, etc.

Flip wooden tray over so bottom is facing up. Spray paint bottom and sides gold. Allow to dry. Using old rag or paper towel, rub on wood stain sparingly, allowing gold to show through stain in areas. Allow to dry.

Measure width of opening between sides of tray. Transfer measurement to green floral foam and cut with serrated knife.

To create hillside for house, cut green foam to resemble a hill with highest point in back corner of long side of foam. Slope downward to create impression of hill toward a river, and contour other side to go slightly uphill, forming river bed. Hot glue foam to bottom of tray. Add foam at top of the hill for more height, if desired.

Place sheet of adhesive moss on top of foam, cutting out areas for river and hut. In river area, apply path of hot glue and dump pebbles on top. Use bigger stones on sides to create river bank. Pour bottle of nail polish onto riverbed, brushing stones to look like water.

Place hut at highest point, gluing it down with liberal amount of hot glue. Nestle bushes and trees around hut, varying sizes of round mosses and trees, and hot glue in place.

Glue white birch rounds behind hut for backdrop to glue trees and shrubs around; giving off appearance of a hut nestled in the hillside. Attach bushes to outside of sidewalls. Glue stepping stones in place to create path to river.

Add additional fairy items to fill out the scene.

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Seven steps to allergy relief with spring cleaning

DIG-Seven-steps(BPT) – Longing for allergy relief? To stop the endless cycle of sniffles, sneezes and wheezes, it’s time to ready your vacuum and rubber gloves. Spring cleaning helps eliminate allergens so you can relax, breathe easy and enjoy the season.

“People who suffer from allergies may not realize there’s a direct connection between cleaning your home and reducing allergy symptoms,” says allergist Bryan Martin, DO, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI.) “The more you can rid your home of dust mites, mold, cockroaches and pet dander, the easier you’ll breathe.”

ACAAI recommends seven spring cleaning steps to remove allergens in the home and avoid accidentally letting more in.

Step 1: To sleep, perchance to dream—and  breathe.

Start in the bedroom where you spend eight to 10 hours a day. Dust mites can flourish during cold, dreary months, so wash your sheets and comforter regularly. Most mites die by drowning, but if you want to use hot water (which will kill slightly more mites) don’t use water that’s over 120 F because it can scald.

Remember to also wash decorative pillows. Finish by adding allergy-proof casings to the mattress, box spring and pillows. Keep pets out of the bedroom as their dander can cause symptoms to flare.

Step 2: Gaze out, but don’t open.

Window treatments are a magnet for dust and allergens. Pull them down and dry clean, or vacuum each thoroughly. Don’t forget to vacuum blinds and windowsills as well. Tempted to open the windows to let the spring breeze in? Don’t. Unwanted pollen can enter your home and spread everywhere.

Step 3: When the dust settles, wipe it off.

Suit up to win the war on dust by wearing protective gloves and a face mask so you don’t breathe in microscopic mold spores. Next, ditch cotton cloths and feather dusters that kick up allergens, and instead use microfiber cleaning cloths which trap and remove triggers. Wipe down all surfaces including picture frames, knickknacks, plant saucers and ceiling fans.

Step 4: Nature abhors a vacuum. You shouldn’t.

Move all furniture, and vacuum the dust and dander that collects underneath. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Additionally, clean vents and return registers to limit dust recirculating. Consider shampooing carpets to remove deeply embedded allergens.

Step 5: Scrub-a-dub the mold.

In bathrooms, basements and tiled spaces, scrub any visible mold and mildew from surfaces with bleach, or borax mixed with water, then dry completely. The key to reducing mold is moisture control, so use bathroom fans and clean any standing water immediately. You can also help ward off mold by keeping home humidity below 50 percent.

Step 6: Change is good—for filters.

Keep the air that circulates through your home’s ventilation system clean by using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Change the filter at the change of every season, or every three months. (Set a calendar reminder to remember). Additionally, change filters in HEPA appliances. This helps eliminate allergens, and prohibits mold growth.

Step 7: Get out! And about.

Check your home’s exterior for any concerns that may have emerged due to cold weather. Chipped paint, roof damage or cracked siding can lead to mold problems. Make repairs as necessary.

These seven spring cleaning steps may take a few weekends to complete, but they’ll help reduce allergens all season long. For more information, or to find an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

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Add sparkle to your landscape with unique containers 

Crates, recycled or purchased, can be painted and personalized to create a colorful, unique planter for flowers and edibles.

Crates, recycled or purchased, can be painted and personalized to create a colorful, unique planter for flowers and edibles.

By Melinda Myers

Perk up your containers and add a bit of sparkle to your landscape with bright colors, unusual materials or a unique purpose.

Include an elevated garden to increase planting space and make planting, weeding and harvesting easier on the back and knees. Liven things up with a robin egg blue VegTrug™ or washtubs elevated on a support for a bit of rustic charm.

Add wheels to make it easier to move planters around the patio or deck.  This allows you to follow the sun or make room for company at summer gatherings.

Recycle items into containers or invest in some of the new planters made from galvanized metal, wooden apple crates and more. Look for new colors or personalize them to create a warm greeting for you and your guests.

Increase growing flexibility with lightweight grow bags. They now come in a variety of colors and sizes. These fabric containers fold flat for easy storage when not in use.

Save space with sleek designs and built in trellises. You’ll be growing pole beans, tomatoes and flowering vines in a compact space. The colorful flowers and fruit will brighten a blank wall or screen a bad view.

Use containers and elevated gardens to increase the fun factor at your summer gatherings. Start your party with a trip to the outdoor bar. Weather-resistant butcher-block with built in planting space is sure to get the conversation going.  Gardener’s Supply Company is offering a new reclaimed wood outdoor bar with an integrated planter called “Plant A Bar.” Fill the planting space with some favorite cocktail herbs. Then mix up your beverage and let your guests add a bit of homegrown flavor.

Include the next course by growing your own salad bar. Guests will enjoy harvesting and creating their own bed of greens to accompany the main course. Fill a pot or elevated garden with greens, radishes, onions, carrots, herbs and your other favorite salad fixings.

Keep your containers healthy and productive with proper care. Water thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil is dry.  Check pots daily and water as needed. Extend the time between watering with self-watering pots.  Look for features such as weep holes that allow excess water to drain, funnels for top watering, and moisture indicators that let you know when it is time to add more water.

Further reduce maintenance by adding a slow release fertilizer to the potting mix at planting. Small amounts of nutrients are released over time, eliminating the need to mix and fertilize weekly. Give planters a mid-season boost or when making a second planting by sprinkling slow release fertilizer over the soil surface.

Harvest regularly to keep vegetables producing and looking their best. Replace early plantings as they fade with a second crop. You’ll extend the harvest and your enjoyment.

So take a second look at your patio, deck or front steps and move in a bit of color, fun and flavor for this growing and outdoor entertaining season.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. 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, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

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Five easy tips for a stunning summer yard

_SPR-Stunning-summer-yard(BPT)

Summer’s arrival brings longer days and more sunshine. This season also means more of your favorite outdoor activities, such as relaxing in the backyard or working in the garden. In fact, there is no better time to refresh your outdoor space.

“The secret to a well-manicured yard is preparation,” says Chris Lambton, yard and garden expert for Fiskars. “Once the weather warms up, your lawn and garden will need a little extra TLC to be ready for outdoor activities or entertaining. Having the right tools on-hand is essential to making the process simple and enjoyable.”

Lambton offers his tips and tools for making your yard beautiful and easy to care for all season long:

Prune strategically

If you turn your back for too long, Mother Nature can take over your yard in the spring growing season. Trim and shape your plants by cutting 1/4 inch above a growth bud at a 45 degree angle to promote healthy growth. High-quality garden tools, like the Fiskars PowerGear2 Pruner or Lopper, make taming shrubs and cutting through dead or overgrown limbs easier.

Plan your planting

Summer is a great time to plan your outdoor space and give it a fresh new look. When plotting out your yard or garden, be sure to leave extra space around plants to account for their growth or plant in containers to easily move them around, if needed. Raised garden beds for herbs and veggies are great for keeping plants in order and allow you to plant, water and harvest more easily. Choose tools to help with planting that are easy to grip and will stand up throughout the season, like the Fiskars Big Grip Trowel or Transplanter.

Mulch carefully

Shallow layers of mulch work to keep your soil cool, cut down on weeds and slow the loss of moisture. But be careful not to mulch too deeply, as too much mulch can inhibit oxygen from reaching plant roots and encourage mold. As a rule of thumb, mulch only two to three inches on top of the soil.

Water wisely

A healthy lawn and garden will have deep roots that can tap reserves of moisture way down in the soil. Water deeply – but not too often – and you’ll encourage plants to develop even deeper roots. The best time to water is between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. when the air is cooler and there is less risk of evaporation from heat and wind. Use tools that are easy to maneuver and durable to stand up to the elements season after season, like the Gilmour Flexogen Hose and Thumb Control Watering Nozzle.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor

Remember to spend time outside in your yard and garden when the weather is nice and enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables you grow. Use Herb and Veggie Shears to make healthy cuts on your plants so you have fresh and delicious produce throughout the season.

With the right tools, yard and garden work is fun, not frustrating. Use these tips to keep your yard maintained and beautiful so you can enjoy it all summer long.

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Back to Basics: Low maintenance flower garden care

SPR-Low-maintenance-flower-Ageratum

By Melinda Myers

Grow a beautiful flower garden with minimal care by investing a bit of time at the start of the season to reduce on-going care.

Always match flowers to the growing conditions and the care you are willing to provide. Low maintenance plants need minimal or no deadheading and staking. This means you’ll be growing good-looking plants with little effort on your part. And if the plants are suited to the growing conditions and resistant to common pests you’ll be doing less work managing insect and disease problems.

Further reduce your workload by selecting self cleaning or free flowering annuals and perennials and those bred for long bloom and compact growth. You’ll enjoy more colorful flowers with less pruning and grooming.

Ageratum, angelonia, calibrochoa and many of the newer petunia cultivars are just a few of the annuals that do not need regular deadheading for continual bloom.  Include perennials like willow amsonia, bugbane, Solomon seal, turtlehead and sedum autumn joy for lower maintenance and big results.

Prepare the soil and provide proper fertilization before planting. Work several inches of compost or other organic matter into the top 8 to 12 inches of soil to improve drainage and water holding ability. Incorporate a low nitrogen organic fertilizer like Milorganite (milorganite.com) at the same time. The slow release formulation provides needed nutrients throughout most if not all of the season. Plus, it promotes slow steady growth that won’t interfere with flowering, is less susceptible to pests and is more drought tolerant.

Properly space the plants, making sure they have sufficient room to reach their full size. Overcrowding means you will be thinning or dividing plants more often or battling disease problems instead of enjoying the full beauty the plants provide.

Consider removing flowers on annuals at planting. This allows plants to focus energy on establishing roots instead of flowers. Can’t bear to do this? Then remove the flowers on every other plant or every other row. Then a week or two later remove the flowers on the remaining plants. You will soon be rewarded with full compact plants that will produce more flowers throughout the season.

Pinch back long and leggy transplants. Use a hard pinch to remove the tip and several inches of stem. Use your pruners or fingers to remove stems just above a set of leaves. The remaining plant will still look good while you wait for new leaves and stems to grow and produce new blooms.

Encourage branching on single stemmed plants with a soft pinch. Remove just the uppermost portion of the stem where the leaves and tip are starting to develop. Soon you will have a well branched plant and more blossoms.

Improve plant posture and reduce the need for staking with early season pruning. Keep mums and asters compact by pinching them back to six inches throughout June to encourage compact growth. Eliminate floppy growth and the need for staking on late bloomers like Boltonia, Autumn Joy sedum, Russian sage and Heliopsis. Revive catmint and perennial salvia that flop open in the center with pruning. Cut flopping plants back halfway once or twice a season as needed.

And don’t forget to mulch. Covering the soil surface with an inch or two of shredded leaves, evergreen needles/pine straw or other organic material will conserve moisture, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they decompose.

Always water new plantings often enough to keep the top few inches of soil moist. Once established water thoroughly and only as needed. This encourages drought tolerant roots, so you’ll need to do less watering in the future.

With proper planning, plant selection and soil preparation you can keep your ongoing care to a minimum. That means more time to relax and enjoy your beautiful garden.

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. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden MomentTV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and spokesperson for Milorganite. Myers’ website is http://www.melindamyers.com.

 

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Elevate your garden game with raised beds and planter boxes

DIG-Elevate-your-garden-web

(BPT) – What’s stopping you from gardening today? Do you live in an urban area, have a small yard or is your soil rocky and full of clay? Any of these challenges could make you believe that planting a garden simply isn’t in the plans this year, but that doesn’t have to be the case. You just have to get a little more creative and turn to raised beds and planter boxes to enjoy the vegetables, herbs and flowers you crave. An amazing 78 million U.S. households grow gardens, according to the Garden Writer’s Association. Wouldn’t you like to join them?

If you’ve never considered using a raised bed or planter box to garden before, these tools offer many advantages such as high yields, easy gardening and a longer overall gardening season. Before you get to work on this rewarding DIY project, though, ask yourself these questions:

Where will I place my garden beds?

This may be determined by the specific space you have available. If you have a few options, though, look for the sunniest spot possible. Remember that larger beds will have greater yields, but they also require more work. It’s best to build your beds to match the gardening time you have available.

What material will I use to build my beds?

There are many options in today’s market; however, many experienced gardeners build their beds from untreated Western Red Cedar because it is naturally rot resistant. This provides instant longevity without treatment. And for new builders, Western Red Cedar is affordable, lightweight and easy to work with – all important considerations when starting your first project. Plus, if you’re an environmentally conscious gardener, Western Red Cedar is sustainably harvested. The harvesting, manufacturing and transportation of this material all generates fewer greenhouse emissions than other types of materials, so you can go green in every stage of your project. You can learn more at Realcedar.com.

What’s the right size bed for my space?

As you’re planning your bed size, remember you’ll need to work in the space as well. The garden bed’s width can range from 2 to 4 feet and the ideal length is 8 to 12 feet. No matter the dimensions you choose, make sure your beds and planters are at least 6 inches deep; 12 inches is optimal for allowing the roots to grow deep and strong.

Is my soil ready?

Before you start digging around, make sure your soil is ready for success. Dig down 6 to 8 inches and loosen the soil. Then create a mixture of top soil and organic material – such as compost or manure. Once the soil is ready, it’s time to start watering, weeding and fertilizing.

All of these tasks become much easier with garden beds and planters because you will be working with a smaller space and won’t need to do so much bending. You may discover your garden quickly dries out in the sun, and if this is the case, a layer of mulch can be just the solution to help your soil retain moisture.

What are my plans for next year?

Harvesting is one of the greatest joys of gardening. Once you’ve finished this year’s harvest, you can set your focus on next year. Prep your beds for winter just as you would a traditional garden, and if you’ve built your garden beds from Western Red Cedar you don’t need to do anything to prep the boxes for the colder months. Western Red Cedar resists warping and twisting, ensuring your beds will look and function just as well next year… and beyond.

For more information on building a garden bed or planter box and to find project plans that will work for your space visit www.Realcedar.com/outdoor/project-plans/.

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Let it grow

Permanently improve the structure of your garden’s soil for successful results. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Permanently improve the structure of your garden’s soil for successful results. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Tips and tricks for a lush garden

(Family Features) Whether it’s a just a vibrant pop of pretty petals you want added to the front of the home or a raised bed full of delicious fruits and vegetables, the return of warmer weather has many homeowners reaching for their gardening gloves.

If you’re ready to try out your green thumb or dust off the gardening skills you long ago acquired, there are plenty of ways to achieve the lush vegetation you desire. Check out these tips and tricks for cultivating a thriving and productive garden of any variety.

Start with a plan. Different flowers and plants require different sun, soil and water needs. Keep these factors in mind and consult the seed packets to plan out where each should be placed. Many apps are available to take the guesswork out of gardening, helping you create a perfectly organized plant or flower bed. Some even offer reminders for watering, fertilizing and more.

Keep water in mind. Make sure your plan includes a close proximity from plant bed to the water supply.

DIG-Let-it-grow2-webBe smart with soil. Whether it’s a flower or vegetable garden bed or containers, the secret’s in the soil, where roots develop and sustain life. Invest in the proper tools to keep this foundation strong, such as Professional Soil Modifier from Profile Products, which improves water and nutrient retention, keeping vital elements in the root zone longer. For more information, visit www.profilegrow.com.

Plant close to home. If you have room, try to grow your plants as close to the home as possible. This makes watering less of a task, and also makes it easier to get to your precious vegetables when it’s time to harvest.

Opt for a permanent solution. There’s no doubt that gardens require seasonal upkeep, but you can find some ways to ease the tasks. One such solution is Professional Soil Modifier from Profile Products, which permanently improves the root zone by adding air- and water-holding capacity in all types of soil (unlike peat that needs to be tilled into gardens each year.) The result is better drainage when it’s wet, better water-holding capacity when it’s dry, deeper root growth and healthier plants.

Label away. Know exactly where you planted each seed with cute, natural labels. Simply use a permanent marker to mark each plant name on stones in front of each plant row.

Be a green gardener. Always opt for eco-friendly, pesticide-free products to use in your garden, when possible. Products filled with chemicals can be harmful to animals when carried through the air with wind.

So, dust off that shovel, tighten up the hose and get to growing. Once you have the right plan in mind, you’ll be on your way to achieving the flower or fruit and vegetable garden of your dreams.

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