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Tag Archive | "garden"

Tips for a Bountiful Backyard Garden


SPR-Tips-for-backyard-garden1

(Family Features) The benefits of having your own backyard vegetable garden are plentiful, and can include significant lifestyle impacts, such as healthier eating habits, money saving perks and more.

A Relaxing, Healthful Hobby

Looking for a hobby that allows you to contribute to the health of your family? Take up gardening. Beyond producing nutritious foods, it can help you teach your family about local agriculture, all while basking in the tranquility of the great outdoors. Though starting your own home garden can be intimidating, there are a few simple steps to get you started. Once developed, it can yield fruits and vegetables from early spring and into the fall.

1) Do Some Research

Find out what vegetables grow best in your area and when is the right time to plant and harvest. Many local university extension programs have this information readily available online. For each plant, consider the amount of water needed, how much sunlight is required and if it should be started from seed or a transplanted seedling.

SPR-Tips-for-backyard-garden22) Choose a Good Spot

Keep in mind vegetables need at least six hours of sun each day, so plant away from the shade of buildings, trees and shrubs. Planting close to your house may make you more likely to bring your harvest right into your kitchen, and will help you remember to weed and water. Including rain and irrigation, your garden needs at least one inch of water per week. Make sure you can easily access a water supply nearby. Some products, such as an Ames NeverLeak hose reel, provide convenient hose storage and can easily reach all parts of your yard. Be sure to choose a level area of your yard so when watering it will not pool in lower areas.

3) Clear the Area

Use your garden hose or a string to mark the area for proper placement of your garden. Use a sod lifter or garden spade, keeping the area level and removing as little topsoil as possible. Next, use a round point shovel, such as the True Temper True American Round-Point Shovel, to dig into the soil about 12 inches, breaking it up and removing clumps. To encourage proper drainage and escape light freezes in early spring and fall, construct a raised bed by creating a border with wood slats and filling in with soil.

4) Prepare the Soil

Use a rake to create a smooth finish and remove debris or stones on the surface. You may want to add manure, compost or soil additives to provide additional nutrients in the soil.

5) Plant Your Seeds

Determine if you will be starting your plants from seeds or transplanting small seedlings. Be sure to research how much room each plant will need and plot the layout of your garden. Dig V-shaped furrows using a warren hoe or the edge of a garden hoe. Carefully distribute the seeds in the furrows evenly and in accordance with the instructions on the seed packet. Cover the seeds and pat down gently, then water thoroughly.

Use this information for a fruitful harvest this gardening season. For more tips, visit www.AmesTrueTemper.com or www.Facebook.com/TrueTemperTools.

 

Posted in Diggin' Spring, FeaturedComments Off

Autumn edibles: Tips for fall gardening and second plantings


BLOOM-Autumn-edibles1

(BPT) – People choose to garden for many reasons: Food is fresher and tastes better. It’s a healthy hobby that exercises the body. It saves money. Numerous reports show an increasing number of homeowners are growing their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.

As summer’s end nears, you may think gardening season is over. The good news is with a few strategic tips, you can keep your green thumb going and enjoy a plethora of autumn edibles for months to come. -

Step 1: Select second plantings

Second plantings are the plants you use for the latter part of the gardening season. Late summer is typically the best time to plant these varieties. Call your local extension offices or access information online to find regionalized planting schedules and recommended plant varieties.

The length of the fall season and when the first frost will likely hit are important considerations when selecting second plantings. Keep in mind that fast-maturing vegetables are ideal for fall gardening and they should be planted early enough to reach maturity before the first frost arrives.

Popular second plantings that yield a delicious late fall/early winter harvest include broccoli, lettuce, turnips, collards, carrots, peas, radish, spinach, leeks and beets. Some people even claim root vegetables and cole crops like kale and turnips taste better after the first frost.

Step 2: Prepare your garden space

If you plan to use your current garden space for second plantings, remove the early-season plants that are done producing. Add those plants to your current compost bin or create a new compost pile with easy-to-use, stylish options from Outdoor Essentials. Wood-slate bins blend well with the outdoor aesthetic and the design allows oxygen to circulate and facilitate the composting process.

Next, prepare your garden space. Elevated garden beds are growing in popularity because they look great anywhere in your yard or on your patio, and are easy to move if necessary. Raised garden beds from Outdoor Essentials elevate the plants so gardeners don’t have to bend over and risk injury. They are ideal for fall because gardeners can regulate the temperature of raised beds with ease. On hot days, move or add a shade netting to protect plants from the heat; when frost is a threat, cover the entire bed for protection.

While you’re getting your hands dirty, fall is the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs. A little outdoor work now and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful flowers when spring arrives next year.

BLOOM-Autumn-edibles2Step 3: Enjoy the harvest

Tend your garden daily for the best results – it may just need a quick check for pests and proper soil moisture. Typical benefits of late-season gardening include fewer bothersome bugs and the soil has better water retention.

As plants grow, pick the fruits and vegetables and enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty. If your plants become crowded, pluck a few out to help remaining plants grow roots and increase the harvest yield. You may be surprised just how many cool months your plants provide you with fresh, delicious produce.

Fall is a great opportunity to keep gardening momentum alive. So get started and decide what second plantings are best for your space. In as little as 30 days you could be eating the freshest, most flavorful vegetables you’ve ever had, all while under the gorgeous autumn sun.

 

 

 

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off

Three tips to grow a bold, beautiful backyard


BLOOM-Three-tips-bold-beautiful-backyard(NewsUSA) – Summer is here, and it’s time to start heralding warmer temperatures by beautifying the backyard. So, don the appropriate layers, grab some tools and turn your backyard into something ideal for entertaining.

Families love to spend time outdoors, especially if they have a pool, patio or deck, so take the time to administer some TLC to the lawn, pool, patio and garden. The following tips will help you get the most out of your backyard:

1. Grow some privacy. Depending on the size of your backyard, consider installing a fence, arbor, pergola, row of bushes, trees or hanging vines to shelter your property from the neighbors. This helps make gatherings more private and gives your lawn a “secret garden” feel. Plus, a fence, trellis or arbor can offer a wind-break and much-needed shade, both of which can be key for pools. Flowering vines like trumpet vines, clematis or morning glory attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

2. Get cozy outdoors. If you have unused deck space, create a family-friendly area perfect for entertaining outdoors: cook-outs, lounging, games or parties. All you need is some inexpensive patio furniture—clusters with chairs and a sofa—and small tables for surface space. To make it really cozy, add some brightly colored throw pillows and potted plants.

3. Simplify pool maintenance. Family pools tend to make the best summer parties, but all investments include maintenance. Adding a pool cover can reduce pool heating costs by 50 to 70 percent. Or if your pool has problems with cloudy water or chlorine levels, BioGuard’s new Pool Tonic removes phosphate and many other unwanted contaminants for beautiful water that is easy to maintain and enjoy. For complimentary water testing, bring a sample of your pool water to any BioGuard dealer, and receive the right prescription for your pool. Visit www.bioguard.com to find your nearest dealer.

 

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Enjoying the fall garden’s bountiful harvest


(ARA) – When the calendar turns to fall months, temperatures drop and local football teams come to mind. With the approach of the cooler weather, many of us also begin to yearn for the warmth of comfort foods like hearty soups and stews or freshly baked pies, but these traditional favorites need not be boring and unhealthy. A modern take on comfort foods uses what is fresh and available during the season, but also explores new ingredients and stretches your imagination to look at old ingredients or recipes in new ways.
Regardless of where in the country you live, fall produce is becoming abundantly available. For some regions, families have begun making their annual pilgrimage to the local orchard to pick apples or pears, and pumpkins are maturing in the backyard garden waiting to be turned into jack-o-lanterns. But even if these crops aren’t possible to grow in your area, fresh autumn favorites like pumpkins, apples, parsnips and kale are still most likely making frequent appearances at local farmers markets and grocery stores.
Roast them, stew them, can them or bake them. Pumpkin, squash, root vegetables, apples and pears make for great cuisine that the whole family can enjoy. For a new take on old favorites, try adding rutabaga slices to your au gratin potato recipe or pop some cubed squash in while cooking up your family’s favorite beef stew.
Get the whole family involved and take the kids along to the market to find new vegetables to sample. Getting everyone interested in new flavors can be exciting. Sample some unfamiliar items and find new favorites. Kids will enjoy comparing the flavors of roasted carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, yams, potatoes, jicama and squash when marinated in a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Decide which flavors your family prefers and make this a seasonal tradition to cook up together annually.
Whether you’ve grown your own produce or pick it up at the market, America’s Test Kitchen and Miracle-Gro have teamed up to provide fresh new recipes and tips on fall gardening at www.scotts.com/GroYourOwn. Sample some of these delicious recipes while incorporating fall plants and produce into the menu and even learn which fall crops are best to grow in your area of the country.
Of course, nothing compares with the satisfaction of growing your own produce. Even if you didn’t plant a garden this year, why not make plans for one next year? With just a sunny place for a container on the balcony or a small plot in the backyard, you can easily plant your own garden to grow fresh squash, rutabagas or carrots in the spring to be enjoyed by your family next fall. If you prefer the crunch of a freshly picked apple, try planting a dwarf apple tree instead.
As the temperatures drop, enjoy the season’s harvest by incorporating locally grown produce into the menu. Start reviewing new recipes to try for family and friends and test their reactions. With the hearty flavors of freshly grown and harvested vegetables from the garden, everyone will be clamoring for more.

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A lesson from my garden


Pastor Mary Ivanov
Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5.

This year, we’re growing watermelons in our garden that’s just behind our shed and not very big at all. We have some cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. But we also planted a couple of watermelons to see how they would grow.

Wow! The watermelon vines have grown all over, twisting and turning around the other plants. It’s hard to see where the watermelons actually start anymore!  They’ve grown well, which is exciting for an amateur gardener like me, but I also learned that watermelons vines are much stronger than they look. When I wanted to cut the vines back a bit, it wasn’t easy to do.

My experience in the garden brought to mind the image that Jesus offers in the Gospel of John, chapter 15.  Jesus calls himself the vine. He is our strong and mighty Savior who came to be with us, teach us who God is, and offer us a new relationship with God that brings eternal life. To some he appeared weak because of his challenge to the status quo and his command to love. But he showed God’s grace for each of us and called us to believe in him.

Jesus calls God (his Father) the gardener. God’s Holy Spirit works in us so that we might bear fruit.  And God keeps on working in us—pruning us—that we might be more fruitful as we grow in faith, hope, and love.

Jesus calls those who believe in him and seek to follow him “the branches.”  There would be no fruit on the branches without the vine. We are branches when we’re intentional about staying connected to Jesus by reading God’s Word, worshiping in a community of faith (with other branches), studying God’s Word, praying for others, giving and serving in Jesus’ name, and sharing what Jesus means to us through word and action.

The watermelon vines in my small garden reminded me that Jesus calls each of us to tend to our relationship with him.  Are we connected to him? Do we notice that God is pruning away what doesn’t help us grow in faith so that we can bear fruit and give God glory?

On behalf of the CS Ministerial Association, I invite you to join us for our annual United Worship service on Sunday, August 28 at Morley Park. It will be a time of uplifting songs, inspiring messages, games for the kids, free lunch, and a live worship concert.  (In the event of inclement weather, we’ll be at Cedar Springs High School Auditorium.)  This is a great opportunity to worship together, to be connected to Jesus, the vine!  Check it out at unitedcedarsprings.com!

If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us this Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. or Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

Enjoying a bite to eat


Alice Jackson sent us some photos of the “wild” things going on in her yard on Harvard Avenue.

“I set up a trail camera to see what was eating up all the things I bury in the garden,” she wrote. “They would dig it up, so I started putting it in a dish.”

She was surprised when she saw images caught on camera. “I didn’t think it would be coyotes,” she said.

She was even more surprised when she saw a raccoon and coyote feeding at the same time out of the same bowl. “It’s very unusual to see a coyote and raccoon eating together,” she remarked.

Do you have a wildlife photo you’d like to send us? Send it to news@cedarspringspost.com. We’ve also been hearing rumors again of bears in the area. If you have photos, and have seen one, please let us know!

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Get your garden growing


Four tips for starting a garden

(Family Features) The popularity of gardening is growing. In fact, according to the National Gardening Association,* more than 70 percent of all U.S. households participate in one or more type of do-it-yourself outdoor lawn and garden activity, with flower and vegetable gardening topping the most popular activities.
If you haven’t joined the millions of Americans who enjoy gardening yet, this year is your chance. Whether you want to start a garden as a new hobby to beautify your yard or to enjoy the fresher tastes of home grown vegetables, getting started can be easy.
Here are some expert tips from Black & Decker to help you start your own garden this spring:
•    Know the Lay of the Land – Assess the gardening conditions in your yard before you dig your first hole or plant your first seed. Conditions such as sun, shade, soil type, climate and moisture levels are all key factors to consider when creating your gardening plan.
•    Prepare Your Soil – Healthy soil translates to better plant growth, so be sure your soil has the nutrients it needs to flourish. Talk to a representative at your local home and garden center for tips on choosing the right type of fertilizer based on the soil and the plants you’re growing.
•    Choose and Care for Plants Expertly – Once you’ve prepared your gardening space, you can begin to explore plant options available. To prevent the discouraging cycle of trial and error gardening with new plants, try Black & Decker’s new PlantSmart digital plant care sensor, a revolutionary gardening tool that provides expert advice for growing and maintaining all types of plants and flowers, both indoors and out. Its reusable, water-resistant sensor uses patented technology to measure key environmental information from sunlight and temperature to moisture, soil conditions and more. Your readings are then uploaded to your personal PlantSmart online account and combined with real-time climate and horticultural information from your local area, for a foolproof gardening experience. This tool will help ensure you are choosing and growing the right plants in your new garden.
•    Take the First Dig – When you’re ready, dig a hole that is slightly bigger and deeper than your plant’s roots, and gently place the plant in the prepared hole. Pat the surrounding soil down firmly, but don’t pack it, and be sure to leave enough space between plants. If using seeds, refer to the package’s directions to gauge the soil depth needed for proper growth; drop the seeds in and place soil firmly on top.
Armed with expert advice from Black & Decker and its new PlantSmart tool, your garden is sure to be a success this year.
For additional tips, and to learn more about PlantSmart and other innovative outdoor products from Black & Decker, visit www.blackanddecker.com or www.rechargeyouryard.com.
*National Gardening Association’s 2010 National Gardening Survey; page five

Posted in Diggin' Spring, FeaturedComments Off

How to start composting for your garden


Composted soil is great for your garden.

(StatePoint) Ecological experts have proposed countless ways to improve the environment, but something as simple as changing the way you dispose of your trash could have a significant impact on the future of our planet.
By composting biodegradable materials, such as yard trimmings, food waste and disposable paper products in a pile or bin, a nutrient-rich soil is created that can be used for gardening. This soil reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, is better for the environment and will save you money. It also promotes healthy foliage and growth—a boon to gardeners everywhere.
“Few Americans realize that nearly 50 percent of the waste from their home is compostable,” says Eric Happell, Director of Fiber Business Unit at Huhtamaki, the makers of Chinet paper products. “If every American household composted, we could reduce our solid waste stream by more than 60 percent.”
He said that the average American produces four pounds of landfill waste daily, and that composting is a simple solution to reducing that number.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to starting a composting pile at home:
* Select a convenient spot for composting. This spot can either be indoors in a compost bin or outdoors in a semi-shaded and well-drained area. Don’t put your compost pile under acid producing trees like pines.
* Combine organic wastes such as yard trimmings, food scraps and biodegradable products into a pile, then add bulking agents such as wood chips to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials.
* Let nature take its course.  Typical compost will turn into rich soil in two to five weeks.
A properly managed compost bin or pile will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad. Therefore, make sure you know what you can and cannot add to a compost pile.
Many everyday items can be used, including fruits and vegetables, yard trimmings, eggshells, coffee grounds, teabags, and certain paper products. You can also add dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, pet fur and fireplace ashes.
Other biodegradable materials, like hay, straw, grass clippings, saw dust and leaves can also be added to compost piles, with the exception of black walnut leaves, which release chemicals that are harmful to plants. Also, don’t include diseased or insect-ridden plants, or plants treated with chemicals or pesticides; these, too, will make the compost harmful or toxic.
Be sure to avoid adding food and organic matter that will make the compost pile smell, such as dairy products, egg yolks (whites are okay), fats, grease, lard and oils. Meat and fish scraps are compostable, but make sure they do not contain parasites or bacteria.
For more tips on composting and other environmental activities, visit www.mychinet.com and click on “Environment.”

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Succession in the Garden



(Family Features) Spring in the garden is a dangerous time. The temptation is to go out on those warm, sunny days and plant ‘til you drop. Not only is that strenuous on your body and mind, it can also lead to the proverbial glut of food in a few months.
A better solution is to plan out your annual edible garden so crops mature in a more orderly fashion. Succession planting requires a little knowledge of the type of plants you’re growing, a little planning to have room for them to grow, and the patience to plant each crop in turn. Also, other gardening techniques, such as crop rotation and interplanting, can help maximize growing space and help your plants avoid many soil-borne diseases and insects.

Planting for Success

Succession planting is a simple concept: Plant small rows or beds of plants periodically during the growing season. As one planting’s harvest begins to fade, the next planting’s harvest will be ready. The key is knowing what vegetables can be planted in succession, and the best time of year to do it.

Photo courtesy of Family Features

To succession plant, start in spring with cool-season crops that can be planted early, such as lettuce, spinach, peas, broccoli, greens, pak choi, carrots, radishes, and beets. For example, instead of planting one long row or bed of lettuce, consider planting a short, 2-foot-long row or bed. Two weeks later, sow another 2-foot-long row, and so on until the weather gets too warm for lettuce. Since the plants mature in one to two months you’ll get a continuous harvest of lettuce.
For warm weather crops, such as bush beans, summer squash, or cucumbers, follow the same planting pattern. Plant one bed after the last frost date, and another three or four weeks later. Since these crops take at least 60 days to mature, in regions with short growing seasons you may have time for just two successive crops before the weather gets too cold.
As late summer weather cools, you can start planting lettuce again for a fall or winter crop, depending on your location. Because the amount of daylight decreases in autumn, plants grow more slowly in fall than in spring, so allow more time for them to mature.
The other key to succession planting is leaving room to plant. The temptation is to plant everything all at once and fill the garden. It’s important to plan for subsequent plantings. Cover unused beds with straw or other mulch to deter weeds.
Pull out old crops as soon as they finish producing. Don’t let those peas hang on just because there are a few fruits on the vine. Pull old lettuce and spinach plants as soon as they show signs of bolting. By being a little hard-hearted, you’ll create lots of room to grow a second and third crop. It takes a little planning in advance, but you’ll be amazed at where you can tuck in a few broccoli or pak choi plants or a small row of beans.
For more tips and garden information, visit www.garden.org.
Charlie Nardozzi, a nationally recognized garden writer, book author, speaker and radio and television personality, has appeared on HGTV, PBS and Discovery Channel television networks. He teaches and inspires home gardeners to grow the best vegetables, fruits, flowers, trees and shrubs in their yards.

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