Category Archives: Garden Basics

Dealing with Garden Pests

Dealing with Garden Pests
Dealing with Garden Pests

While tending to my own garden, I have found that one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a gardener is to walk outside to check on your plants. It’s just a routine walk to make sure that your garden is thriving, but you end up finding holes in all of your plants
that looked fine only hours before. The explanations for some of these plant-destroying holes are garden pests. Some of the main garden pests are slugs, worms, caterpillars, birds, snails, and the occasional gopher. Although you can never wipe out these pests entirely, after all your hardwork in the garden you have to do something.

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Grubs – A Small Pest That Can Devastate Your Lawn

Grubs - A Small Pest That Can Devastate Your Lawn
Grubs – A Small Pest That Can Devastate Your Lawn

You can get the better of grubs, though they’re among the most damaging lawn pests in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend millions of dollars a year replacing the lawns that grubs destroy. They’re small, white insects with a brown head curled into a “C” shape.

White grubs live a few inches under your lawn and feed on the roots of your grass. Grubs are the larvae-or “juvenile” stage-of various kinds of scarab beetles, including Japanese beetles, chafers, and June and May beetles.

“When grubs are close to the surface, starlings and crows, as well as moles, shrews and skunks, can be seen digging them up because they’re a food source,” says Bayer Advanced; lawn expert Lance Walheim, who wrote the book “Lawn Care for Dummies.”

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National Pollinator Garden Network Seeks 300,000 Pollinator Gardens to Reach Goal of One Million Registered Gardens

million pollinator garden challenge
million pollinator garden challenge

Americans concerned about saving bees and our food production systems are being asked to #beecounted and help the National Pollinator Garden Network reach one million bee-friendly gardens by National Pollinator Week, June 18-24, 2018.

Saving pollinators has become a national obsession. Since 2015, over 700,000 pollinator gardens have been designed, planted and registered across the United States.

“One thing is clear, Americans love pollinators and their efforts are paying off. Research in recent articles, such as the Journal of Applied Ecology, have shown that even small gardens can make a difference for pollinators by increasing diversity of bee species across urban and suburban landscapes.” says Mary Phillips, senior director at the National Wildlife Federation, one of the founders of the network.

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Composting the Easy Way

Composting the Easy Way
Composting the Easy Way

Having an ample supply of good rich compost is the gardeners dream.
It has many uses, and all of those uses will result in nicer plants. However, composting can be time consuming and hard work. I place a reasonable value on my time, so spending hours and hours turning compost piles doesn’t qualify as a worthwhile exercise, at least in my book. Nonetheless, I do compost, but I do so on my terms.

I built two composting bins. Each bin is five feet wide, five feet deep, and four feet high. I built the bins by sinking 4î by 4î posts in the ground for the corners, and then nailed 2 by 4ís and 1 by 4ís, alternating on the sides.

I left 2î gaps between the boards for air circulation. The 2 by 4ís are rigid enough to keep the sides from bowing out, and in between each 2 by 4 I used 1 by 4ís to save a little money. The bins are only 3 sided, I left the front of the bins open so they can be filled and emptied easily. Photos of my compost bins are on this page: http://www.freeplants.com\composting.htm

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Non-Edible Composting Items

Non-Edible Composting Items
Non-Edible Composting Items

In addition to the acceptable food scraps you can use to compost there are many different
organic items you can add too. Some of the items on the list may surprise you while
others will be ones you have heard of before. Just remember, by composting these items
you are reducing the amount of waste that your home produces.

Additional Composting Materials:

* Lint collected from your dryer
* Cardboard, cut into strips or small pieces
* Hair, make sure that is isn’t put in as one large clump
* Manure (from a horse, pig, or cow)
* Tree leaves, cutting or chipping them helps them break down faster
* Newspaper (considered brown food), cut into strips. Do not use the glossy pages
and do not add too much (it can dry out the pile)
* Pine needles and pine cones
* Coffee grounds and paper filter
* Sawdust and wood chips (or shavings) as long as it is from untreated wood.
* Straw – even better if it is used straw from horse bedding
* Grass clippings (green food)
* Seaweed or algae (you can get these from your home aquarium)

There are a few considerations to think about when choosing from the above list of items.
If you do use dryer lint, it would be wise to only use it from cycles when you washed
clothes with natural fibers man-made fibers would not breakdown in your compost. If
you are using your compost for your garden be extra careful that everything you add has
not been treated such as grass clippings. If any type of commercial fertilizer or
pesticide has been sprayed on the grass do not add it to your compost bin. Larger items
should be broken down as much as possible to speed up their decomposition.

The Best Food for your Compost Bin

There are some rules to learn and follow about what you can put into your compost bin in
order to keep your pile healthy and working properly. The most widespread organic
material that you will add to your compost will be kitchen scraps. The kitchen scraps are
considered green food that you feed to your compost as they contain nitrogen ñ an
essential element to the process.

It is a good idea to have a container with an airtight lid to store the food waste in your
kitchen. You do not want to attract insects or pests inside your home nor do you want to
be running to your compost bin every time you make a meal or snack. If your kitchen
container is airtight you will also cut down on unpleasant odors.

Here is a list of the most commonly used compost items from the kitchen:

* Vegetable peels and seeds
* Fruit peels, cores, and seeds
* Coffee grounds & you can compost the paper filter too
* Tea bags or loose tea leaves
* Crushed egg shells  do not add left-over eggs cooked or raw
* Breads

You may be tempted to add other food scraps into the bin, but donít. You should not add
any animal meat or bones, oily products, or fish remains not only will they be sure to
attract unwanted pests but they will make your compost smell badly. Whenever you are
adding your green food to the compost bin, make sure you cover it under a thick layer of
brown food (yard waste or other carbon producing agent such as dry leaves, wood chips,
sawdust, or small twigs).

If your food scraps are very wet or moist, in addition to putting brown food on top of the
scraps mix some in with the waste too. This will enable better air circulation.