Websites for Do-it-yourself Gardeners

March 15, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

Some of the best gardening and landscaping advice is available write at your fingertips – on the web. Dozens of sites boast free plans, plant encyclopedias, gardening tips and articles discussing everything from Chic Chinese Pavilions to creating a French-Country Backyard. I’ve attempted to wade through this maze of information and have provided a short list of the top four I found most helpful.

Although they’re not meant to be a replacement for an experienced landscaper, these sites will definitely inspire and give you a place to start. Happy gardening!

This website by Better Homes and Gardens has everything you ever wanted to know about gardens, planning, maintenance, lawns, plants, and everything green. They probably have one of the largest collections of free plans I’ve seen yet as well as some nifty tools to help you begin your landscaping journey. Their handy web tools include:

1. Plant finder – allows you to locate every plant imaginable, includes detailed description, growing info and color photo.

2. Garden plans – virtually hundreds of garden plans for every type of yard, climate, plant type (perennial, annual, container, shade, pond side, color theme, etc.). They also provide ideas for entire landscape themes such as entertaining, low-maintenance, small backyard or small front yard. Sign up for free and you can access detailed planting guides for all the plans.

3. Plan-a-Garden – This gives you an online planning guide where you can chart out your virtual garden, add plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers in relation to structures, decks, or fences on the property. You can even design walkways and add stepping stones, patio tables and benches.

This is a beautifully designed site providing amazing ideas for all types of garden and patio design. They feature start-to-finish slideshows of various projects, and lots of design and money-saving tips. They offer advice from architects and even discuss home security in the landscape. The only downside is all the Google ads you have to sift through on the pages.

This site is full of timely articles and gardening tips and most of important of all, lots of big colorful pictures. In their article “Taking up Space” about how to fill large areas, they detail each suggested plant and include large images of each.

The section on landscaping discusses every type of garden, as well as patios, decks and paths.Where is the place to go for plans, this site has a lot of useful advice and “before and after” projects.

This site isn’t as pretty as the others, but it has a wealth of gardening and plant information. You can easily look up just about any flower, herb, tree, shrub, vine, etc. and access a lengthy information sheet that outlines characteristics, and all you need to know about planting them and keeping them alive. There are tons of “how to’s” as well as garden recipes and a fairly active forum.

Waterwise Gardening – 7 fantastic shrubs and vines for Southern California

March 14, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

In Southern California we have been in a drought for the past several years, and even in a good year we do not get much rain.

If you own a home in a drought prone area an easy way to reduce your consumption is to replace water hogging plants with plants that are healthy and look beautiful with little water. These plants should do well over most of the Southwest, but might not work in areas that get any more than a very light frost or significant rainfall.

Shrubs and vines are an important but often overlooked part of every garden.  They usually provide a greener softer look than plain fencing at the boundary between our yard and our neighbors.  They are also better noise absorbers than fencing alone would be.  The bushes on this list might go in front of a fence or be used in leiu of a fence.  The vines could grow on a fence or trelis, or fill in established bush adding contrasting leaves and flowers.

1.  Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea) are a family of vigorous growing vines with year round vibrant pink, purple, or white flowers.  The woody trunks that develop can support the plant.  However, they do tend to have an extremely irregular habit unless you are vigilant in pruing.  Bougainvillea have very sharp thorns on the trunk, so be very careful around this beauty.

2.  Jasmine Bush (Jasminum dichotomum or Jasminum sambac) the dense bush forms of jasmine are common throughout Southern Califonia for good reason.  They are an easy bush to grow, and they have a pretty white flower with a beautiful fragrance.  It’s probably best to buy this from a local nursery to get a plant that is suitable for your specific climate.

3.  Jasmine Vine or Star Jasmine (Jasminum multiflorum or Jasminum polyanthum) the vine forms of jasmin tend to be faster growing then the bush forms, and the and they produce even more of those heavenly smelling flowers.  A true vine, you will need to give this plant some support.

4.  Honeysuckle (Lonicera) the only bad thing about jasmine vine is that so many people grow it.  If you want an alternate, that is just as sweet smelling but different from jasmine why not try homeysuckle.  There are many many varietuies of honeysuckly, so this is another plant you might want to pick up at your local nursery to get somethig that is adapted to your area.

5.  Gardenia (gardenia) Gardenia are a large family of flowering shrubs with very showy white or yellow flowers.  This plant has the showiest flowers on this list, but would also need more care and water than the others.  Many forms are available, check your local nursery for what does well in your area.

6.  Oleander (Nerium oleander) oleander is a fast growing bush that will form a nice hedge with pink or white flowers.  This plant is very toxic, so do not plant it where children or pets would come into regular contact with it.

7.  Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) jade plant will form a hedge given enough time to establish.  While not the fastest grower or always thickest habit, this plant needs very little water and has a beautifully distinctive look.

Here are my gardening resources for California.  Most nurseries and garden centers on this list would carry these magnificent seven plants.  Alternatively, my listings of trees and shrubs would have specialty growers for these and other bushes and vines.

Make your Garden Green and Beautiful

March 13, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

What is a home without a beautiful garden or lawn? A beautiful garden increases the beauty of your home. It is totally impossible to maintain a garden well without the right garden resources and gardening tips. These can be varied and can take the form of gardening equipment, books or other tutorials that can be used to take valuable gardening tips, and so on. Actually gardening is the practice of growing flowering plants, vegetables, and fruits. Residential gardening most often takes place in or about a residence, in a space referred to as the garden.

Gardening is at once a hobby, an art, and a chore. There are few other things in life that can fill all three of these categories quite as aptly as gardening can. Of course, by keeping good care of your garden all the year through, you can be sure that your garden remains more of a hobby and an art and less of a chore.

There is a big difference between gardening and yard work. Yard work is almost always a chore. Gardening only becomes a chore when it has not been kept up, when the weeds are as tall as the Building and your ivy has begun to strangle your favorite pine tree. To avoid this type of situation you must take care of your garden.

Everyone wants to have a beautiful garden. After all, a beautiful garden can make your entire home look more beautiful and it is a lovely place to spend the day and to commune with nature. To have a beautiful garden, though, you must keep it up and to keep it up, you must have excellent gardening tools.

In gardening, it’s important thing to bear in mind that you need to always have a positive and patient, learning attitude, because not every venture which you embark on will be a success. Before you start on advanced gardening techniques though, you should start small and simple, with easy to grow plants and herbs. After you’ve gained more confidence and experience you can take your gardening hobby to the next level.

Gardening is indeed a great activity that doesn’t really require a lot of cost or preparation and if you’ve never done it before, you’ll soon be surprised by the myriad benefits it brings to your and your family. You do need a small parcel of soil though, even if it’s just as big as a pot. There are many undemanding plants to plant, which means that even the most clueless gardener can grow something successfully.

So, take care of your garden and enjoy its beauty.

mygarden Spring Guide #1

March 12, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

Spring is the time get busy and tidy around the garden. If you havent done this already, get the compost dug into your beds now. Compost will feed your plants and keep them healthy. Like people, healthy plants are less susceptible to disease and pests, and prevention is better than cure. Apply mulch to conserve moisture for the warmer months. Start sowing all your seedling trays using seed-raising mix. Root crops, like carrots, turnips, radishes and beetroot are best sown directly into the beds as they dont appreciate being disturbed. Theres no point buying them sold as seedlings, and it may be worth sowing some seed now but there may still be frosts so use a frost-cloth, or wait until its warmer. You can also protect your seedling against frosts by cutting the bottom off plastic bottles and placing them over the seedlings. This is a good month to start a compost heap if you dont already have one. Just make a pile of kitchen scraps, garden waste, paper and cardboard, and wood-ash (not coal-ash) in a sunny spot in your garden. Make sure any weeds you put in dont have seeds or youll be returning weeds to the garden and we dont want that. There are some things you should avoid putting into the compost so have a look at the mygarden September planting calendar for more info on this. Watch out for those slugs and snails, and Start attacking weeds now to keep them under control. Theyre easier to get rid of when they are young. For what to plant see the mygarden planting

Waterwise Gardening – 5 fantastic plants for Southern California

March 12, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

Here in Southern California we have been in a drought for the past several years, and even in a good year we do not get much rain.

If you own a home in a drought prone area an easy way to reduce your consumption is to replace water hogging plants with plants that are healthy and look beautiful with little water.

These plants should do well over most of the Southwest, but might not work in areas that get any more than a very light frost or significant rainfall.

1.  Ice Plant (Carpobrotus edulis) is an amazing groundcover that you see all over Southern California.  While many take this plant for granted it is excellent at growing in the toughest areas such as hillsides that get no irrigation in the summer.  The plants have either a pink or yellow flower, so be sure to get a plant with the color flower you like.  While you can buy flats of this plant it makes more sense to start your own patch from cuttings that you can probably get from a neighbor.

2.  Red Apple (Aptenia cordifolia) is another amazing groundcover prevelant in Southern California.  It has a smaller leaf than iceplant, and covers more thickly.  Red apple will have small pinkish red flowers year round, which is where it gets it’s name.  Note that the flowers will attract bees, so you might not want to plant this where you would need to often walk through it.  Once established these plants should survive with little irrigation.  As with ice plant, this is an excellent choice to start from cuttings.

3.  Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) are a family of beautiful clumping plants with a distinctive tropical looking yellow orange or blue flower.  The smaller varieties have the yellow orange, while the larger varieties have the blue.  Once established these plants should survive with little irrigation.  Propogate by dividing these plants which is some work (they do form a very dense clump) or by purchasig a small plant at a garden center.

4.  Gazania (Gazania) are a family of spreading daisy like plants.  This is a beautiful ground cover, but is not quite as tough as Ice Plant or Red Apple.  To look healthy throughout the summer they will need some irrigation.  The flowers come in a varitey of yellows, reds, white or purple.  Propogate by dividing existing plants, from seed, or purchase a small plant at a garden center and watch it spread.

5.  Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos) are a few beautiful clumping plants with distinctive red or yellow flowers.  The flowers have a slightly fuzzy appearance, giving them the name Kangaroo Paw.  To look healthy throughout the summer they will need some irrigation.  The habit is reminiscent of hemerocalis, and you can either propogate this plant by division or purchase a small plant from a garden center.

Here are my gardening resources for California.  Most nurseries and garden centers on this list would carry these magnificent five plants.

Organic Pest Control Gardening for Greenhouse Gardeners

March 11, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

Eating organic produce is a growing trend in today’s eco-conscious and health centric world.  To that end, many families have turned to growing their own food at home so they can ensure a completely organic diet, and greenhouse gardening is one means of growing produce almost year-round.  However, even the strictest organic gardener must have some method of controlling common garden pests.  In this article, we’ll explore some organic pest control methods for greenhouse gardeners.

One of the major benefits of greenhouse gardening, aside from the obvious fact that your gardening activities can be extended into cooler months of the year, is that a greenhouse provides a physical barrier against some pests.  For example, moles, rabbits, and birds will not be an issue when cultivating plants in a greenhouse.  Greenhouses do also provide some added protection against various insects, though it is still possible to have infestations of common garden insects inside a greenhouse, so we’ll focus our organic pest control methods on insects.

One of the easiest ways to repel insects is through companion planting.  Almost every variety of insect has an aversion to some particular plant or another.  For example, marigolds planted among beans or potatoes will repel Colorado potato beetles and Mexican bean beetles.  Chives or garlic planted among lettuce or peas will deter aphids, and nasturtiums planted throughout your vegetables will deter a whole host of pests including cucumber beetles and squash bugs.  This is only a very small example of the various types of plants that can be paired together to repel pests.  For a more complete list, refer to a gardening resource book or website.

When companion planting doesn’t work, it may be time to take your organic pest control to the next level: applications.  There are numerous organic products on the market that can be applied to your plants to deter garden pests.  Simply make a visit to your local nursery or garden center and you’ll be presented with an array of options ranging from predator urine in concentrated form to various fish oils and soaps.  Without spending a lot of money, one inexpensive homemade application is a mixture of water and dish detergent.  Begin with a very weak mixture, approximately 1 tablespoon of dish soap to a gallon of water.  Spray carefully onto a few leaves of one or two plants, and then watch the plants closely over the next day to be sure the foliage doesn’t die back.  If the few sprayed leaves respond well, then you can spray the solution over the entire plant, making sure to spray both the tops and bottoms of all leaves.  If this doesn’t kill the insects, you may need a stronger solution, up to 3 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water.  Just be sure to carefully test each stronger solution on a few leaves before spraying all over your plants.

When all else fails, manually picking insects off your plants can be effective, too, if the infestation hasn’t gotten too out of control.  Pick off all adult insects, and be sure to gather any eggs and larvae as well.  If you do this twice daily over a period of a week, you should notice the damage to your plants reduced considerably.

There is no doubt that organic gardening will continue to gain in popularity as the world becomes more aware of environmental and health concerns caused by chemical pesticides and fertilizers.  Growing your own produce at home is easy and inexpensive, and greenhouse gardeners who want to go organic shouldn’t be deterred by concerns about garden pests.  There are many tried and true methods of organic pest control that have worked for farmers for centuries, and they will work for you at home, too.

A Guide to Building and Planting Vegetable Gardens

March 11, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

The structure of your vegetable garden does not have to be entirely functional but it should also look and feel good. Building some decorative arches and some tomato cages not only makes your garden look good but also helps it produce more crops. After all, there is more to planting vegetable gardens than just cultivating a spot of land.

Function Over Form

The most well known form garden structures are those that are built to sustain plants and give them the room to climb, hold up the weight of its fruits and other plants as well.

Building cages and poles lets you have a vertical garden which boosts your produce per square foot since you’ll have more space to plant in the ground.

Vegetables like cucumbers, peas, peppers and eggplants need lots of garden support. Carrying these vegetables above ground not only will produce better crop it also protects it from insects found in the soil. Plus, the fruits will be less likely to rot if planted this way. Building other support structures like stakes and cages will help in making your plants grow stronger and taller.

Choose Your Structure

If you plan to shop for things for your garden online or in a garden store, you’ll notice how many choices there are when it comes to garden structures. A great online garden resource is a company called Garden Supply Company. Not only do they have a mail-order catalogue, they make trellises for plants like cucumbers that serve as a shade to neighboring plants, tomato cages, spiral supports, bean towers, maypoles and others.

Garden structures may vary especially in terms of form and function because they not only are very supportive of plants it also makes your garden look good. The best kind of garden is not only beautiful, but also enhances the health of the vegetables planted there.

Form over Function

There are so many options when it comes to building your vegetable garden especially if you’re purpose is purely aesthetic. You can build ornaments like arches, trellises or archways to beautify your garden. You can even build walls or doorways to surround your garden for a more visual appeal.

For gardens like these, you can decorate them with plants aside from vegetables. You can plant beautiful flowers to cover your trellis but choose flowers that are sun friendly and attract helpful insects.

An example is trumpet flowers, which are not only beautiful but they attract bees for your vegetable garden. Since you also want to attract helpful creatures, you can build a bird bath or a bird house in your garden. If you’re particularly into organic gardening, the birds can certainly help eliminate pests

As long as you keep your garden attractive to birds and other helpful insects, they will spend a lot of time in your garden and repay you by eating away harmful pests.

Supporting Your Plants

Building plant supports are essential garden structures which is why it’s necessary to use them in the proper way to maximize results. This does not mean building stakes or cages in the ground and leave the plant to grow on its own.

There are other materials like plant ties, jute cords or twines which you can use to tie up your plant to the cages or poles but don’t tie them too tight.

Another great support when it comes to planting vegetables gardens are stakes. Make sure to drive them properly into the ground and space them a little further from your main plant to avoid hitting its roots.

MyGarden Week2

March 11, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

Now that your little seedlings are doing their thing you need to watch out for fungal diseases, you may want to use a fungicide of some sort, especially for your strawberries and other fruit plants and trees. A quick an easy antifungal spray is a blend of equal parts of milk and water, for other natural fungicide, persticide and herbicide recipes, see the resources section of Broad Beans will start to grow rapidly soon so prepare something to support them. Invite bees into your garden by planting flowering plants you need bees to pollinate your fruit and vege plants. Plant companion plants with your vegetables and flowers to encourage the good bugs into the garden and to repel bad pest and disease problems. Companion Plants are those that complement and support each other because of certain scents and chemicals the companion plants release which repel undesirable bugs, or attract desirable bugs. Herbs can be good for this too so planting herbs in the garden or containers or baskets is a good idea. Give newly planted fruit trees a good watering twice a week throughout spring and summer, once their leaves have unfurled. Feed all fruit trees and protect from fungal and bacterial diseases and invasive insects. Hang dangling moth traps around Apple and Pear Trees to protect those tasty fruits from unwanted intruders! For what to plant see the mygarden planting calendar under the gardening resources section.

Fun and Food in Home Grown Vegetable Gardening

March 6, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

Growing vegetables in your garden can save you money. During harvest time, your own produce becomes part of your meals. Home gardeners feel deep satisfaction in preparing salad or seasoning the casserole with freshly picked plants from their own vegetable gardens. Their feeling of the taste is incomparable. Fresh surplus are distributed to friends and love ones while some are keep frozen.

It doesn’t require much space to grow vegetables. Even a container pot or a window box will do the trick. Where space is limited, you can grow a mini-garden indoor or outdoor. If you have a good sun, access to water and enough containers, growing a garden’s worth of fruits and vegetables in a limited space is a no-brainer. You can even harvest more than one crop if your choice of plants and planting schemes are all well planned and executed. Windowsills, balconies and doorstep areas can be used, as well as empty packs of milks, pails, plastic buckets and cans.

When planting in containers, proper spacing is very important. One sturdy plant is better than several weak ones. Crowding chokes root systems will slow growth and poor production. With container vegetable garden, you no longer need to worry about poor soil types and bad drainage, or heavy-duty tiller to break up hard clay and rocks. There is no weeding to worry about and you can change the looks of your container placements by simply moving them around anytime to a place you wanted to.

Vegetable gardening offers a change from the monotony of the supermarket. You can grow variety of vegetables that you want. When choosing plants for your vegetable container garden, consider container worthy crops such as beans, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and radish. Other root crops such onions and turnips can also do well in containers, but remember to always take care of these crops by ample fertilizers and water. Also consider grapes and berries. Though some take a while to get established, they bear fruits more each year. Planting for fall crops can be started in early summer, though summer planting can still be done in June in most regions.

One great advantage of growing vegetables and spices in containers involves the advent of the upside-down gardening. Crops with the likes of tomatoes, basil, parsley, rosemary and peppers do well with this approach. The ideas is that the vines will cascade downward instead of growing up a stake. A grow box can be treated by punching perforations through the bottom of a container. The other option is to purchase a device specially designed for this purpose. Upside gardens do not require a great deal of space and is perfect for balconies and patios.

Equally important, seeds and soil must properly be taken cared of in your vegetable container garden. Seeds do not always have to be bought. Reasonably fresh dill, anise, fennel, coriander and other seeds already on the spice rack should grow. If not, they are too old to add much to food anyway and should be replaced. Scoop out seeds from vegetables you’ve bought, dry them a week or so before planting.

Soil preparation on the other hand is very crucial for good results. Have the soil tested. Every state has a land-grant college that will test soil for a small fee. It will give abundant basic gardening advice, and garden resources tips. Start growing those veggies in your garden and turn your home made meals into something truly special. Take care of your plants to make them productive by keeping them watered and harvested.

Fine Gardening is An Art Form

February 20, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

The enjoyment of fine gardening comes not only from the finished garden but from the endless hours that is spent designing and planning the actual garden, from the moment of the first thought, to the moment the last tree is placed, and plant the last flower. All that work should show through when first a person steps into this yard of fine gardening, a place of peace and calm where a person can meditate on the finer things in life.

Consider constructing a water feature, ideally one that will give a continuous soothing gurgle, with a small stepping-type of waterfall-cum-pond, placed on lovely slabs of flat dark rock with a hint of moss growing on it. A nice water lily or lotus to give off a contrasting color, and perhaps a few fish. Some ferns and leafy rain-forest type plants placed around the pond big it to life and this finishes this stage of fine gardening.

Consider a large tree to stand in a corner of the garden, with a luscious velvety dark brown trunk that can just about span an arm, covered with vibrant green leaves spilling onto the ground in heedless abandon.

Since green is a peaceful color, Consider also laying a lovely shady lawn that you can sink your bare feet into when taking a turn about the garden area.

Create a little alcove, unseen from afar, that would afford the curious visitor a wide-angled view of the whole garden, with a sun shade, and a low-lying bench with a few plump cushions strewn carelessly about, and all of it surrounded by a profusion of welcoming colorful flowers.

One of the most comprehensive Fine Gardening resources currently on the internet is Gardening Moments, This is an all in one e-book where you will find everything you need from designing that dream garden to organizing the plants and locations, choosing the right mulch and much more.

The E-Book, The Gardeners Handbook contains priceless gardening ideas and tips on all of the above as well as gardening designs, practical equipment and garden supplies, flowers and their seasons, tips on water usage and drainage, indoor or outdoor and hydroponics gardening.

To get the full story visit Gardening Moments

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