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Archive | Diggin’ Spring

Make your water work harder this year

_Car-Road-trip-tire-tips2(NAPS)—Many homeowners looking to maximize the efficiency of their outdoor water use turn to drip irrigation systems as a solution for keeping weeds, diseases, garden pests, scorching heat and high water bills at bay. Drip irrigation systems are easily set up by even a novice gardener and will deliver an immediate water savings as they place the exact amount of water slowly and evenly at the plant’s roots—where it’s needed most.

Here are some drip basics to help you save water:

1. Start by estimating the water needs of your plants. Knowledgeable and helpful staff at a garden center can assist you in determining just how much water your plants need to be healthy. Different plants will have different requirements depending on their variety and the conditions of your yard, such as sun exposure and soil type.

2. Drip systems can either be incorporated into an existing automatic sprinkler system or through a manual connection to an outdoor hose faucet. A manual hose-end connection can also be easily automated by using a battery-operated timer such as the Rain Bird Electronic Garden Hose Watering Timer.

3. For optimum performance, keep your water pressure under control with a pressure regulator. These simple devices keep your water pressure in the ideal range of within 20 to 50 psi. Drip systems are most efficient when operating at the correct pressure.

4. Include a filter in your system to prevent clogging. Drip uses smaller diameter openings than traditional sprinklers, so tiny bits of dirt and debris may clog your system if you don’t use a filter. The good news is that filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

A well-designed drip irrigation system will lose practically no water to runoff, deep percolation or evaporation. Steady, consistent watering can also lower plant stress, which leads to healthier and happier plants while lowering your water bill.

Rain Bird, a global leader in irrigation technology, offers an online step-by-step guide to drip irrigation in addition to interactive demos and a drip calculation program to help homeowners and contractors design and schedule drip irrigation systems correctly. You can check it out at www.rain bird.com.

 

 

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Maximize your harvest with limited space

DIG-Maximize-harvest-Cucumber-7.11by gardening expert Melinda Myers

 

Increase your garden’s productivity even when space, time and energy are limited. Just follow these six simple planting, maintenance and harvesting techniques for a more bountiful harvest.

Maximize your planting space with wide rows. Leave just enough room for plants to reach their maximum size. Make wide rows, 4 to 5 feet wide, so you can reach all plants for maintenance and harvest. Minimizing walkways means more planting space.

Try interplanting. Grow short season crops like lettuce and radishes between long season crops like cabbage, tomatoes and peppers. The short season crops will be ready to harvest when the long season crops are reaching mature size. You’ll double your harvest and grow more vegetables, not weeds between your longer season plants.

Grow more plants per row with succession planting. Start the season with cool season vegetables like lettuce and spinach. Once these are harvested and temperatures warm replace with beans and onions. Harvest these and plant a fall crop of radishes or lettuce.

When you use these intensive planting techniques, be sure to incorporate a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, at the start of the season. Then add a mid-season nutrient boost if needed. The slow release nitrogen won’t burn even during the hot dry weather of summer. Plus, it won’t interfere with flowering or fruiting.

Go vertical. Train vine crops up decorative or functional trellises and supports. You’ll not only save space, but you will also reduce disease problems and increase the harvest. Growing cucumbers and melons increases light penetration and airflow, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Pole beans are much easier to harvest and produce an additional picking. Secure large fruited vegetables like melons to the trellis with a cloth sling.

Be sure to plant vegetables in containers if in-ground space is limited. A 5-gallon bucket or comparable size container is perfect for a tomato. Peppers and eggplants will thrive in a bit smaller pot. Grow vine crops in containers and allow them to crawl over the deck or patio instead of valuable gardening space. Mix flowers and herbs in with your vegetables. You’ll increase the beauty while adding additional fragrance to the pot.

Harvest often and at the proper time. Zucchini and other summer squash should be picked when 6 to 8 inches long or in the case of patty pan squash it reaches 3 inches in diameter. The flavor is better than those baseball bat size zucchini and you’ll have plenty to eat and share. Harvest your head of cabbage when firm and full size. Leave the bottom leaves and roots intact. Soon you will have 4 or 5 smaller heads to harvest and enjoy.

With a bit of planning and creativity you can find ways to increase the enjoyment and harvest in any size garden.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers web site is www.melindamyers.com    

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Easy tips for a manicured lawn

DIG-Manicured-lawn(BPT) – The days are getting longer, the grass is growing and yard work season has begun. Many homeowners strive to have the best lawn in the neighborhood, but the task ahead can often feel daunting and time-consuming.

Although yard work can be overwhelming at times, the steps to a great-looking lawn are easier than you think. To get started, here are a few tips for giving your yard that finished look:

* Keep grass approximately 2 inches in length and only take off 1/3 inch of new growth.

* Alternate the direction you mow each session. If you mow in the same direction every time, the wheels will create a rut in the grass.

* Plant flowers around the yard for a pop of color. Using mulch in flower beds will also add detail to your landscape.

* Use string trimmers around trees, rocks, fences and other obstacles to give your lawn a polished look.

* Use a broom to clean grass clippings and soil from pavement and walkways.

Yard work can feel easier and even enjoyable when using the right lawn care tools for the job. According to Troy-Bilt, a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, one of the quickest ways to give your lawn a manicured look is using a string trimmer. It can handle everything from cutting down weeds to trimming around trees to cleaning up grass under decks. String trimmers are the most versatile tool every homeowner should have in their shed.

“Lawn mowers can maneuver around obstacles and larger plants, but it’s usually hard to get into tight spaces,” says Heidi Ketvertis, director of marketing communications for Troy-Bilt. “A string trimmer can get into places a lawn mower can’t reach and really give your lawn that polished look.”

Troy-Bilt’s TB675 EC 4-cycle gas string trimmer can help make life in the yard that much easier. There’s no need to mix oil and gas, and it can quickly convert into multiple tools with Troy-Bilt’s TrimmerPlus attachments.

Making your lawn stand out as the beauty of the block will take some work, but the end result will be worth the effort. Visit www.troybilt.com to learn more about lawn care products to help make time in the yard more enjoyable.

 

 

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Warmer weather home updates that are easy on your wallet

DIG-Warm-weather-home-updat

(BPT) – As the weather turns warmer, most of us are experiencing cabin fever, anxious to escape to the outdoors. But has the harsh winter weather put a damper on your outdoor spaces? Don’t fret. You can easily spruce up your exteriors with a few easy and inexpensive home improvement projects. Here are a few fast fixes that will have your home looking great without taking a huge hit on your wallet.

Unpack and update

The first step to enjoying the outdoors is to unpack storage areas and populate your patios and porches with furniture and accents that you put away for the winter season. However, often these pieces don’t fare well in storage and your once-beautiful accents may be scratched, faded or even rusty.

“It’s disappointing to find once-vibrant outdoor furniture and accents looking worn and outdated, especially when you’re not ready to invest in new,” says Katherine Merkle, Krylon brand manager. “Luckily, with a bit of spray paint, especially a version that’s paint and primer in one, it’s simple to revitalize your current pieces to make them lovely and enjoyable, only for a few dollars.”

Krylon’s Dual Paint + Primer spray paint is the ideal solution with a unique formulation that’s available in a wide variety of the most popular colors and finishes. It includes both the paint and primer in one can, so you can complete your projects easily and quickly in one step – with a great finish that lasts like you primed it. Plus, it works on many surfaces, including wood, metal, wicker, glass, ceramic, fabric, concrete and masonry, allowing you to update all your outdoor accents.

DIG-Warm-weather-home-2“Whether looking to add a vibrant pop of color to dull flower pots; restoring sun-faded patio umbrellas; or restoring damaged or dull furniture surfaces, Dual has the color you need in the simple, one-step, affordable solution you desire,” says Merkle.

Clean and clear

Cold weather can leave outdoor spaces looking dirty and gray, so the next step in your outdoor update is to start cleaning. Pressure washing is a simple way to get patios, sidewalks, windows and siding looking clean and ready for the season. It offers instant gratification as layers of dirt, dust and grime are quickly blasted away. Don’t have a pressure washer? No worries that you need to buy one; most rental companies or home improvement centers offer reasonably priced daily rentals. Or it’s an opportunity to visit the neighbors who you haven’t seen during the cold months to borrow theirs.

Great, green grass

With your living spaces looking grand, now it’s time to turn your attention to your lawn. With the grass still soggy and sensitive, it may not be time to begin mowing or digging – but it is a good time for prevention. Since spring is often the key growth season for many grasses, the key to having a weed-free yard is to apply weed control to your yard to prevent them before they germinate. Your local home improvement store or nursery will help you determine the type and amount that is best for your yard. This easy bit of prevention will help create healthy and luscious greenery for the warmer months to come.

Get grilling

 

Once you’ve got your outdoors looking great, you’ll be ready to enjoy some outdoor entertaining. To prep your grill for another year of burgers and barbecues – make sure you start with a good cleaning. Home improvement expert Danny Lipford has a simple and inexpensive way to clean the cooking surface using aluminum foil and white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar cuts through grease and cooked-on food, while the foil acts as an abrasive to remove the food residue. Simply pour white vinegar in a clean spray bottle, spray the cooking surface and let it sit for a few minutes. Next, rub the cooking area with crumpled up aluminum foil. You’ll have a clean grill with items you probably have sitting in your pantry.

With a few fast do-it-yourself updates, your home and outdoor areas will be looking fabulous in no time – and all without a huge price tag. For more information on Krylon paint products, visit www.krylon.com.

 

 

 

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Container Gardening: Choosing the right plant for the pot

You don’t need a lot of space to enjoy fresh homegrown vegetables.

You don’t need a lot of space to enjoy fresh homegrown vegetables.

(NAPS)—It’s a growing trend: Twenty-one million households are planting container gardens. It saves space, helps control pests and overcome soil issues, and lets you enjoy fresh, homegrown produce even without a yard.

To ensure your success, it’s important to pick the right plant for the pot. Fortunately, seed companies are developing vegetable seeds well adapted for container gardens.

“Today’s container gardeners now have access to even more plants that are compact in size, yield more, taste great and feature unique colors and shapes,” said John Marchese of Seminis Home Garden seed.

To help you get started, consider these tips from experts at the University of Illinois Extension:

Choosing a Container 

• Anything that holds soil and has drainage holes in the bottom may be transformed into a container garden for terrestrial plants.

• For vibrant plant growth, the containers must provide adequate space for roots and soil media, allowing the plant to thrive.

Soil 

• Soils for containers need to be well aerated and well drained while still being able to retain enough moisture for plant growth.

• Never use garden soil by itself for container gardening, no matter how good it looks or how well things grow in it outside.

• Containers often use soilless or artificial media that contain no soil at all.

• When these mixes are used, they should be moistened slightly before planting. Fill a tub with the media, add water and lightly fluff the media to dampen it.

• When filling containers with media, don’t fill the pot to the top. Leave about a one-inch space between the top of the soil and rim of the pot.

Fertilizer 

• A regular fertilizer program is needed to keep plants growing well and attractively all season.

• The choice of fertilizer analysis will depend on the kinds of plants you grow. High-nitrogen sources would be good for plants grown for their foliage while flowering and vegetable crops would generally prefer lower-nitrogen and higher-phosphorous fertilizer types.

Choosing Plants For Your Container Garden 

• Plants that thrive in like soil, watering and light conditions make successful combinations. When combining plants, size, texture, proportion, color, setting and lighting all play a role.

Caring For Your Vegetables 

• Containers offer the advantage of being portable. As the seasons, temperature and light conditions change, you can move your containers so they enjoy the best conditions for peak performance.

• Most fruit-bearing vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squashes and eggplant require full sun.

• Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and spinach can tolerate more shady locations, unlike root vegetables such as radishes, carrots and onions.

• There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to watering. You have to watch your containers and understand how much moisture each plant needs. Feel the soil—if the first inch or so is dry, add water until it starts to drip out of the drainage holes.

Special Seeds 

“Just because they are using a smaller space to grow the plant doesn’t mean the fruit has to be small, too,” Marchese explained. “For example, if container gardeners are looking for a compact plant that produces large and tasty tomatoes, they should try a new hybrid tomato variety called Debut.”

Container gardeners don’t have to sacrifice flavor for a more conveniently grown plant either. “Husky Red is a medium-sized tomato hybrid that has great flavor. We have also developed a cherry tomato hybrid version called Husky Cherry Red that has the potential to set lots of sweet, flavorful fruit,” added Marchese.

Other compact hybrid tomato varieties include Patio, which produces about a 4-ounce tomato, and a saladette tomato variety called Yaqui that produces large-sized fruit.

Learn More 

For more information on home garden varieties, visit www.seminis.com.

 

 

 

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Seven secrets for a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape

Compact plants like ‘Lilac Chip’ butterfly bush contribute to a low-maintenance landscape.

Compact plants like ‘Lilac Chip’ butterfly bush contribute to a low-maintenance landscape.

 

(NAPS)—Anyone who thinks a low-maintenance landscape has to be plain green and ugly should think again. With a bit of planning, some smart plant choices and the help of these seven garden designer secrets, you can have a yard that’s the envy of your neighborhood—and enough time to enjoy it.

1. Choose plants that will flourish given the realities of your yard. Some plants like full sun while others tolerate shade; some don’t mind freezing temperatures while others are unfazed by relentless heat. Selecting plants that thrive in the existing conditions of your site ensures a healthy, attractive landscape. Observe the light levels around your home—six to eight hours plus of uninterrupted sun each day indicates full sun, four to six hours is considered part shade or part sun, and less than four hours would be a shaded site. Plants at the garden center should have tags that tell you their light preferences. Shopping locally helps ensure that all the plants you see will be suitable for the climate in your yard.

2. Plant drought-tolerant shrubs. These specially adapted plants thrive with limited water once they are established (usually after their first season in the ground). Drought-tolerant plants sail through hot summer days easily, saving you the time and money it takes to water the landscape. Read the tag attached to the shrub for information on its drought tolerance or look for visual cues such as silvery-grey leaves, as are found on Petit Bleu caryopteris, and narrow, needlelike foliage, as on Fine Line rhamnus.

3. Spare yourself the time it takes to prune your plants by opting for compact varieties. Compact (also known as dwarf) plants never get too large for the space where you’ve planted them so you don’t have to bother with confusing pruning instructions. Most people’s favorite plants are available in compact, no-prune varieties: hydrangea lovers can try Little Lime or Bobo dwarf-panicle hydrangeas or the tidy Cityline series of big-leaf hydrangea. Rose fans should take note of the low-growing Oso Easy series with its range of 10 vivid colors, all under 3’ high. Even butterfly bush, a shrub notorious for its giant, sprawling habit, is available in a compact 2’ height with the innovative Lo & Behold series.

The cheery gold of Chardonnay Pearls deutzia can brighten your yard.

The cheery gold of Chardonnay Pearls deutzia can brighten your yard.

4. Choose plants with high-quality, attractive foliage. These look great even when not in bloom, beautifying your landscape for months instead of just a few weeks. Colorful foliage, including the dark purple of Black Lace elderberry or the cheery gold of Chardonnay Pearls deutzia, and variegated foliage, such as My Monet weigela or Sugar Tip hibiscus, make engaging focal points from early spring through late fall. Mix them with such evergreens as Castle Spire holly and Soft Serve false cypress for year-round color.

5. Plant in masses of three, five or seven of the same kind of plant. This gives your landscape a cohesive, professionally designed appearance. Plus, weeds cannot grow if desirable plants are already taking up the space, eliminating that notoriously tiresome garden chore. Planting in groups of odd numbers is a designer’s secret for a bold statement that doesn’t feel too formal or fussy.

6. Mulch. A two- to three-inch-thick layer of shredded bark mulch not only gives your landscape a pleasing, finished look, it conserves water by reducing evaporation. It also keeps plant roots cool and shaded, allowing for healthy, vigorous growth that resists pests and diseases naturally.

7.  Don’t be afraid to re-place the plants that take too much of your time, or those that you don’t really like, with new, easy-to-grow shrubs. At www.ProvenWinnersShrubs.com, there are so many improved varieties available now that there is little reason to settle for anything else.

 

 

 

 

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Five environmentally friendly ways to keep your lawn looking great

DIG-Five-tips(BPT) – Maintaining the perfect lawn is easier than you think and with the right tools, you can be both efficient with your yard work and eco-conscious. If it’s lush green turf that you’re after, but you also care about your carbon footprint, there are a few tools and practices that can help you have it both ways.

Many of the tips for maintaining a truly green lawn can also save you money and time. As you’re gearing up to enjoy your outdoor space this season, here are a few suggestions to follow for a healthy lawn you can feel good about:

* Give back to your lawn. One of the best treatments for your yard is to let a layer of lawn clippings settle on the top of your turf after mowing. The clippings decompose and replenish your soil, encouraging positive growth. A common misconception is that leaving the clippings on top of your lawn leads to the development of thatch, when in fact it’s usually caused by other conditions. Leaving your clippings only helps your lawn, and lessens the amount of work you have to do.

* Go green with battery-powered mowers and lawn tools. Gas mowers’ engines don’t run nearly as clean as more thoroughly engineered car engines and contribute significantly to air pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If you make the switch to a battery-powered mower, you can start it easily every time without having to worry about polluting the air. With a mower like the GreenWorks Twin Force Mower, you can get the same great performance as a gas mower with up to 70 minutes of run time. The rechargeable 40 volt lithium-ion batteries that power this mower can also be used other GreenWorks lawn tools that include string trimmers, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers, making it possible to take your entire arsenal of lawn care tools off gas for good.

* Be wise with your water. With a few strategic adjustments, you can significantly reduce the amount of water you use to keep your lawn healthy. Water less frequently with a good soaking each time, the water you use will go further. Watering in the morning will also help your lawn soak up the water, rather than having it evaporate before it makes it into your soil. Installing a rain barrel is also a great way to reuse the water that runs off your house without ever having to turn on the spigot.

* Buy a discerning fertilizer. Chemical fertilizers might offer quick results, but organic fertilizers often provide more staying power as they focus more on improving soil quality rather than the quick fix of applying nutrients directly to the plant. To make sure you are effective with your fertilizer use, take a soil sample to a local garden store to analyze it and they’ll recommend the best fertilizing mix for your lawn.

* Allow your lawn to protect itself. Mowing too short is a key mistake many people make. A good rule of thumb is to never cut more than one-third of the current height. This will ensure that your grass can develop deep enough roots to thrive and won’t get scorched when summer temperatures arrive.

You can have a beautiful, green lawn without putting extra stress on the environment. For more information on environmentally friendly lawn tools that offer gas-comparable performance, visit www.greenworkstools.com.

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What’s in for outdoors

Outdoor kitchens and food gardens are growing in popularity in the American landscape. Photo credit: Stephen Stimson Associates

Outdoor kitchens and food gardens are growing in popularity in the American landscape.
Photo credit: Stephen Stimson Associates

(NAPS)—If you want to get more enjoyment out of your yard, you can consider creating attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and good for the environment.
American homeowners are increasingly drawn to adding outdoor rooms for entertaining and recreation on their properties. That’s what the most recent Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects discovered. The survey results also show demand for both sustainable and low-maintenance design.
Landscape architects who specialize in residential design were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements. The category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, received a 94.5 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. Ninety-seven percent of respondents rated fire pits and fireplaces as somewhat or very in demand, followed by grills, seating and dining areas, and lighting.
Decorative water elements— including waterfalls, ornamental pools and splash pools—were predicted to be in demand for home landscapes. Spas and pools are also popular.
Terraces, patios and decks are also high on people’s lists.
Americans prefer practical yet striking design elements for their gardens including low-maintenance landscapes and native plants.
In addition, more people are opting for food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards.
Good to know
If you’re thinking of joining them, a few food-growing facts and hints may help:
•    Food gardens can be easy, rewarding and sustainable. For starters, you can use fallen leaves in autumn and grass clippings in spring and summer as mulch and weed suppressant.
•    Perennial plants can be low maintenance—they come back every year without replanting. Some great examples include asparagus, blueberries, blackberries and rhubarb.
•    Herbs can make for an especially sustainable food garden, as many prefer hot and dry areas of your yard, with chives, sage and tarragon returning every year.
Learn More
Additional information on the survey and on residential landscape architecture in general can be found at www.asla.org/residentialinfo and (888) 999-2752.

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Sure-grow guidance for first-time gardeners

DIG-First-time-gardeners1
(BPT) – Each year, thousands of first-timers will join the millions of seasoned gardeners who already know the satisfaction of picking a perfect tomato at its peak, serving up salads from greens just grown right outside the back door, or harvesting home-grown peppers and specialty herbs never even seen at the grocery store.
DIG-First-time-gardeners2Most of us want that home-grown, healthy goodness that veggie and herb gardens provide, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out just where to start. Diligent effort and smart investment can result in less-than-expected results, but starting your own produce plot and reaping its rewards is not out of your reach.
Even a small garden can fill your table with fresh, nutritious food, and help save money, too. In addition to the satisfaction you’ll get from growing your own food, gardening delivers a host of other health benefits, from low-impact exercise to boosting vitamin D levels with the hours you’ll spend in the sunshine.
Whether you start with a few containers on your patio, create a raised bed in a side yard or go big and plant a grand victory garden, gardening can be easy if you start with these six simple steps.
Step 1 – Pick transplants
While every plant starts from a seed, transplants make establishing your garden easier, and help ensure better success. Transplants, like Bonnie Plants which are grown regionally across the country and available at most garden retailers, nationwide, can trim six to eight weeks off growing time, and allow you to skip over the hard part of the growing process when plants are most vulnerable – so they’re more likely to survive and thrive.
Bonnie Plants offers a wide variety of veggies and herbs, available in biodegradable pots, making the selection process easy. Plant what you eat and try some easy-to-grow favorites, like these:
* Easy herbs – The volatile oils that make herbs valuable in cooking also naturally repel many insects and garden pests. Try basils, parsley, rosemary and something new, like grapefruit mint, which tastes as refreshing as it sounds.
* Bell peppers – You’ll find the Bell peppers grown in your own backyard will taste sweeter than those bought from your grocer. Harvest them green or red, when vitamin levels are higher. Bonnie offers the classic “Bonnie Bell,” that’s a productive proven winner.
* Eggplant – Eggplant thrives in hot weather. Try easy grow “Black Beauty” or something different like the white-skinned “Cloud Nine.”
* Lettuce – Go for “leaf” lettuces like “Buttercrunch,” “Red Sails,” or Romaine. They’ll tolerate more heat than head lettuces and if you keep picking the leaves you’ll get multiple harvests.
* Summer squash – Squash are easy-grow too, and very productive. Try zucchini “Black Beauty” or new-for-2013 Golden Scallop Patty Pan Squash. Many gardeners call this the flying saucer squash because of its unique shape. The flavor is delicate and mild, similar to zucchini.
* Tomatoes – These crimson favorites are the most popular backyard vegetable. Choose disease-resistant “Better Boy,” “Bonnie Original” or the extra-easy cherry tomato “Sweet 100.”
Step 2 – Location, location, location
Be sure the spot you choose for your plants gets six to eight hours of sun.You don’t need a lot of space to begin a vegetable garden. If you choose to grow in containers, you don’t even need a yard – a deck, patio or balcony will provide plenty of space. The amount of space you require will depend on what you’re planting and how many plants you intend to cultivate.
Sun-deprived plants won’t bear as much fruit and are more vulnerable to insects and stress.
Step 3- Suitable soil
Success starts with the soil. Most vegetables do well in moist, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter like compost or peat moss. Adding organic material loosens stiff soil, helps retain moisture and nourishes important soil organisms.
Step 4- Feed your food
All edible plants remove some nutrients from the soil, and can quickly exhaust soil without the help of a fertilizer. Since one of the reasons for growing your own vegetables is to control exactly what your family consumes, be sure to use all-natural, safe products like Bonnie Plant Food, which is derived from oilseed extract such as soybean seed extract. Research shows plants are healthier and more vigorous using organically based foods, rather than chemical based options.
Step 5 – Water well
Most vegetables aren’t drought tolerant, so you’ll need to water them regularly. The closer your garden is to a water source, the easier it will be to keep plants hydrated. One inch of water weekly is adequate for most vegetables.
Step 6 – Pest patrol
Let natural predators fight your battles, hand-pick pests or dislodge them with a jet of water. If you spray, do it late in the day when beneficial insects are less active.
You can find plenty of resources to help guide you through the planting process, from websites like www.bonnieplants.com to your local community college’s agricultural extension. Read up, watch videos, take a class and get your hands dirty.

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Add tasty edible plants to your landscape

(ARA) Window boxes overflowing with blooms, decorative pots lining the driveway with striking colors, and even a flowering vine climbing up the mailbox. The growing season has arrived, and it is time to decorate the landscape.

The latest gardening trend is growing your own produce, so incorporate edible plants as a beautiful compliment to the typical annuals and perennials. This year, spice up the landscaping decor with some tasty options.

Edible plants—whether herbs, vegetables, fruits or flowers—add a creative variety of interest to your landscape, and also produce a delicious bounty for your dinner table come harvest time.

Here are some ideas to help incorporate edible plants into your landscaping:

Decorate an arbor in the garden, along a walkway or near the house with grape vines. These vines can help shade an area and also can produce grapes good for eating, juicing, making into jams or jellies, or even wine. Different grapes thrive in different areas of the country, so research your region first before attempting to start some vines.

Switch to edible flowers like nasturtium, violets, chamomile, dandelion, hollyhock, honeysuckle, and pansies in your window boxes and decorative pots.  Do not eat flowers grown for ornamental purposes, instead, start edible flowers as seeds and grow them yourself. These flowers work great in salads, teas, summery drinks like sweetened tea, mocktails, and lemonade, and also can be crystallized to decorate cakes. To crystallize flowers, separate the flowers from the stem, and wash and dry the bloom. Heat up equal parts of water and sugar until the sugar dissolves, and the liquid becomes an amber color. Let the syrup cool. Take flower blooms and quickly dip the pedals into the liquid mixture, turn back over and let dry blossom face up. Stronger petals with form and shape work well.

Mix an herb or two into container gardens. Lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano and lemon grass are just a few that grow extremely well in containers, and mix attractively with other blooming flowers. Not only are the herbs edible, but also emit delicious scents when picked or touched, making a great choice for window boxes or path plantings.

Pot a tomato plant right in the front yard. Or, the backyard. Tomatoes grow well in full sunlight, and are decorative when the vines drape along a trellis or arbor. Tomatoes also work well as a natural screen along a porch or patio. Also good for use on an arbor or trellis are cucumbers, smaller melons and squash, beans and peas. Inter-plant vines with containers or landscaping, and your small vegetable garden will get a pop of interest to make it stand out – and provide a great harvest for your family.

Create a hedge with berries. Try blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and even gooseberries to make a unique hedge along the edge of your property. Just remember, your family will not be the only samplers of the fruits. Consider covering the hedge with netting to help keep birds from stealing all the berries. Combining beautiful landscaping with delicious foods to serve at dinner is sure to create many compliments – both from visitors enjoying the front and backyard views, and from dinner guests enjoying the produce harvest. Follow these tips and this year your garden will look good enough to eat.

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