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Do We Need Insects For Our Garden?

Do We Need Insects For Our Garden_
Do We Need Insects For Our Garden_

10 Beneficial Insects For Gardening

1. Aphid Midge: These insects look like a delicate, small wasp. The larvae eats more than sixty varieties of aphids from the garden. You can attract them by growing plants with a lot of pollen and nectar.

2. Big-Eyed Bug: This is a fast-moving bug with large eyes and very small black spots on itís head and thorax. They are usually found in field crops and orchards. The big-eyed bug eats leafhoppers, spider mites, plant bugs, aphids, and small caterpillars. This bug is a real asset to gardening.

3. Ladybug: The ladybug ranges in size from 1/16 to 3/8 inch and have round red, orange or yellow bodies with black markings. They prefer gardens that have a large amount of pollen and nectar-producing flowers. The ladybug is fond of aphids, mealybugs, small insects and scales. The Mexican bean beetle is related to the ladybug but is not beneficial.

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A Summer Garden for the Birds

There are many reasons to create a summer garden the best however, as most gardeners are well aware is for your personal enjoyment. For bird lovers everywhere it is quite possible to have a fabulous summer garden that appeals to the bird lover in them as much as a lover of beauty that exists within us all (there are of course a few disagreements along the way as to what beauty is and is not). If you are a bird lover you should seriously consider making efforts to make your summer garden more attractive to your fine feathered friends.

There are several ways this goal may be accomplished. First of all birds like water. They need to drink water and they actually enjoy playing in the water. With this in mind make sure there is some sort of water source available for the birds to enjoy in your summer garden. Some excellent choices would be a water fountain, a goldfish pond, or a waterfall. The key in this is to make sure that the water source is not a stagnate water source as you want to attract birds and not mosquitoes. Other than that, have fun creating a neat place for your bird pals to frolic and play.

As far as attracting specific birds, you will need to research the specific birds you are interested in attracting to your summer garden and plant accordingly. The variations are virtually limitless and far too numerous to include in this brief overview. Be sure to invest some degree of time when planning your garden to check into favorite birds and the flowers or trees they prefer. You should also take the time to study their predators and avoid creating a friendly atmosphere for the predators to hang out in your summer garden while you are doing your research.

Another way to attract birds to your summer garden is by creating an environment in which they feel safe and at home. Plant trees that these birds favor for building nests or place birdhouses in your garden that will provide a great potential home for these birds to make their own.

In addition to planting flowers and trees that will attract various birds to your summer garden you should also take care to attract food to your summer garden for these desirable birds as well. If you aren’t sure about attracting food for the birds you might want to consider providing food for these birds you are hoping to draw into your summer garden. You can accomplish this by filling bird feeders (make sure you use feeders that are designed to prevent squirrels from stealing the food intended for your birds) with foods that attract the birds you are most interested in attracting to your lawn.

There is no right or wrong way to create a peaceful and relaxing summer garden. If you wish to add to your enjoyment of your garden it is quite possible to do this by taking a few extra steps and landscaping with the birds you enjoy watching in mind. The steps above will help make your garden an attractive place to favorite birds to play and build their homes. Incorporate them all into your summer garden for best results and the opportunity to live in harmony with the birds you enjoy watching.

How To Create An Amazing Garden!

 

How To Create An Amazing Garden!
How To Create An Amazing Garden!

A flower garden can be a peaceful and beautiful refuge from the rest of the world. Sitting in the midst of fragrant flowers while reading a book or strolling along paths lined with flowers in cheerful colors can help you to wind down after a busy, stressful day. With some planning and work, a lovely flower garden can be yours to enjoy.

Planning Flower Garden Designs

Creating beautiful flower garden designs takes much planning and consideration. You will need to consider the types of flowers and combinations of colors you desire for the garden. You will also need to think about the placement of borders and shrubs as well as seating and ornaments. It is a good idea to choose an overall style for the garden and stick with it. When you begin your flower garden designs project, you should make a scale drawing of the design to help visualize your concepts.

Shapes in Flower Garden Designs

Decide upon the shape and pattern for your flower garden designs. Rectangular flower garden designs are a traditional shape and always popular. Circular shaped gardens add interest to the standard rectangular lawn. Flower gardens planted on a diagonal to the house can make a lawn appear larger than it actually is.

Styles of Flower Garden Designs

There are a number of styles of gardens that you can plant, and many of them are not too difficult to achieve. Some favorite flower garden designs are listed here.

Rose Flower Garden Designs

Rose Gardens are easy to plant and beautiful to see. In addition to modern roses, include fragrant, old-fashioned varieties of roses whose scent will delight. Plant bulbs in the beds and border them with seasonal flowers to keep the garden full of color during the blooming seasons.

Cottage Flower Garden Designs

Informal cottage gardens have an old-fashioned, rustic look about them. These flower garden designs incorporate the use of flowers, plants and vegetables.

Shade Flower Garden Designs

Shade gardens are good flower garden designs for spaces with many trees blocking the sunlight. There are many flowers that do well in shady areas, including impatiens, begonia, azalea, hosta and viola. The lack of leaves on the trees in spring allows spring bulbs to grow, filling the space with color.

Wildflower Flower Garden Designs

Wildflower gardens are flower garden designs that feature plants indigenous to the area where the garden is located. These gardens tend to require less pampering than some of the other types listed here, usually not requiring much weeding or amendments to the soil.

Butterfly Flower Garden Designs

Butterfly gardens are delightful flower garden designs, planted with flowers known to attract butterflies. Plants such as marigold, lilac, coreopsis, lavender, black-eyed susan and goldenrod are all good choices for butterfly gardens.

Hummingbird Flower Garden Designs

Likewise, hummingbird gardens are a good choice for those who enjoy spotting these small birds. Hummingbirds like richly colored flowers with sweet nectar and a tubular shape. Red and fuschia flowers in particular tend to attract hummingbirds. Some hummingbird garden favorites are morning glory, petunias, azalea, rose of sharon, delphinium and honeysuckle.

Hedge Trimmers Are Tools not Toys

If you are truly passionate about your lawn and garden then you have probably either seriously considered a hedge trimmer or are the proud owner of one. Hedge trimmers are great for trimming hedges as their name would imply, they operate by creating nice clean cuts that do not shred the plant your are trimming.

Black & Decker/Outdoor HT22 22in. Hedge Trimmer

from: Hardware World

That being said, hedge trimmers are not toys and can be quite dangerous. There are however several steps you can take, however, to make your use of this tool as safe as possible.

1) Make sure your hedge trimmer is lightweight enough for you to hold it for expended periods of time? Dropping is not a risk you want to take, nor is damaging your back. You want to be able to safely operate and support the hedge trimmer you choose. It will not be good for anyone if no one in your family can operate it.
2) Make sure your fingers, or anyone else that will be operating this piece of machinery, cannot fit between the cutting teeth and the guards.
3) Make sure that the blades are sharpened properly and well before each use. Sharper blades make cleaner cuts, which leaves a smaller opportunity for catches and tears and other things that can go wrong.
4) Read the manual for extra precautions you may need to take with your particular tool. This is self-explanatory and yet most people never bother reading the manual. This is an important step that could save someone’s life or in the very least, someone’s limb.
5) Wear adequate protection for your eyes and ears.
6) Never trim above your head. This is another tip that should never need to be explained and yet people are injured doing exactly this all the time. If you need to trim high, get a ladder and climb to the height you need to be in order to operate your machinery properly.

These steps are just a few safety tips for the proper and safe use of hedge trimmers. Reading the manual is always a good idea and will be an excellent source of information for further safety procedures you should keep in mind.

Rock Gardens

While “Rock Gardens” is the modern name, another term used in connection with natural rock gardening is “rockeries”. The biggest problem is to determine the plants that are likely to succeed under the conditions that can be provided. There are no plants that can be counted as rock plants in every part of the country; therefore, plants must be selected for the particular locality where they are to be grown. The background or setting for the rock garden varies greatly because of the topography and character of the country. In a rough, rocky country rock garden sites are sometimes found almost ready-made, but in other sections they must be created from materials collected for the purpose. In the latter case care is necessary in order to produce a result that does not look forced or out of place. When building a house on a rocky hillside it may often be possible to reserve an adjacent area that may be made into a most attractive garden with but little modification. Even old quarries can be and are converted into attractive gardens. Where, however, such features have to be built, it takes a good student of nature to reproduce naturalistic rock ledges and other stone outcroppings. Boulders (rounded, water worn stones) may be scattered over a gentle slope, whereas on a steeper slope the stones must be placed close together, at some points even resting on one another. Even rock walls may be part of a rock garden.

Rock Walls Quarried or angular field stones often may be appropriately used to hold artificial banks. Stones with weathered faces are usually more attractive than those with newly cut or broken faces. Where there is a gentle slope, a row of stones may be placed at the bottom, with spaces between them two or three times as wide as the stones; other stones may be placed behind these spaces with the bottom as high as the tops of the front stones and back far enough to hold the soil at the desired slope. Where the bank is steep the space between the stones, often only 2″ or 3″, may be filled with soil and the next stone laid over this opening, resting on both the lower stones and set as far back as the desired slope of the wall will permit. Stones should not be uniform in size, and those more irregular in outline than is desired for building purposes make a more attractive wall. If the stone has a relatively flat upper surface, the surface should be so placed that water falling on it will drain back into the wall and not off.

Soil Basics – Creating Fertile, Healthy Soil

Soil Basics - Creating Fertile, Healthy Soil
Soil Basics – Creating Fertile, Healthy Soil

Have you ever looked at the soil in your garden and considered it as anything more than soil? If not you should because there is a lot more there than meets the eye. It performs many functions that you may not be aware of and having good quality soil in your garden is essential for your plants. In this article we will look at the functions of soil, what different types there are and finally some ways to make it healthier.

Functions of Soil

The most immediately apparent function of soil is a medium to support plant life. It provides support both physically and biologically. Physical support is provided by allowing the plant to grow its roots through the soil to hold itself in place. Biological support is provided by its ability to hold nutrients and water that the plant needs. It also supports other types of life as well. Microorganisms and insects live in the soil and they in turn aid plant life by helping to decay organic material and adding structure to the soil. Soil allows the growth of food crops which are consumed by humans and also plants used in the creation of medicines. Microorganisms like fungi and bacteria that live in soil and are used to produce antibiotics. All life on earth is dependent on it either directly and indirectly. This includes the plant life in your garden.

What is Soil Made of?

The four major components of soil are mineral matter, organic matter (humus), water and air. Mineral matter refers to the inorganic elements in the soil e.g. stones, gravel and makes up to 40%-60% of its volume. This part of the soil usually originates from the bedrock that lies beneath the soil. Organic matter (humus) is the decayed remains and waste products of plants and animals and has a great effect on the chemical properties of the soil e.g. availability of nutrients. Almost 40%-60% of a soil’s volume can be space and this is occupied by water and air.

Different Types of Soil Texture

Soil texture is defined as the size distribution of different mineral particles. These mineral particles are at their most basic level the following: sand, silt and clay. Sand particles are 2 to 0.05 mm diameter, silt particles are 0.05 to 0.002 mm diameter and clay particles are less than 0.002 mm diameter. Combination of these particles exhibit different properties in soil and some combinations favor plant life better than others. The following are the most common classes of soil texture:

Clay soil
Contains a high percentage of clay particles and feels lumpy to the touch. The small size of the clay particles means that they clump together quite readily and there is less room for air spaces. Consequently clay soils have poor drainage and do not hold nutrients very well. This is a heavy soil and is sticky when wet making it hard to work with. As much as possible you should take steps to improve the drainage of this type of soil. You will learn how later on in this article.

Silty soil
Contains a high percentage of silt particles and feels smooth to the touch. This soil is a well drained soil due to the size of the particles allowing space for water to permeate. This soil holds nutrients more readily than clay soil due to the spaces. It is easy to cultivate but can be compacted quite easily.

Sandy soil
Contains a high percentage of sand particles and feels gritty to the touch, Allows for quite a lot of space in between particles and as a result is very free draining. This has its disadvantages however as it does not hold water and essential nutrients can get washed away.

Loamy soil
This is the best type of soil texture you can have in your garden. This is soil whose properties are controlled equally by the percentages of clay, silt and sand particles. It is well drained but does not loose water too easily as is the case with sandy and sometimes silty soils. The fact that it retains water means it also retains nutrients for your plants to use. It has a great structure and is easy to cultivate.

What Makes a Soil Healthy?
Healthy soil must be fertile and have a good structure.

For a soil to be fertile it must have nutrients readily available and a pH value at a recommended level for the plants that will reside in it. Nutrients that should be available are the essential nutrients nitrogen (leaf growth), phosphorous (root growth) and phosphorous (overall health). As well as the essential nutrients there should also be trace elements like calcium and magnesium. The pH level of the soil refers to its acidity or alkalinity and each plant has its own preferred value range. Plants placed into fertile soil will grow up to be very strong and healthy specimens (that is if other conditions like light levels and climate are favorable as well).

The other determiner of a healthy soil is its texture. We learned about different types of soil texture earlier in this article. Soil having a loamy texture is the healthiest and it should be strives for if at all possible. In general a soil that retain nutrients and allow water and air to permeate it will be beneficial for the life of your plants.

How to Create Healthy Soil
No matter what type of soil you have the addition of organic matter will work wonders for its health. Organic matter is plant and animal residues in varying forms of decomposition. It will replenish the nutrients in your soil and improve its texture. You may have heard countless times about adding your leftovers and glass clippings to a compost heap. This is a great idea as your compost is the best form of organic matter. Compost in an advanced stage of decomposition (dark and without smell) is magic for your soil. It encourages microorganism activity causing soil particles to clump together and form aggregates. The aggregates allows for spaces in the soil therefore increasing its drainage. This is especially beneficial for clay soils, which have poor drainage. Other forms of organic matter are animal manure and peat moss.

If your soil is lacking in nutrients and you don’t have access to a compost heap you have a choice of using inorganic or organic fertilizers. Inorganic fertilizers (inorganic salts, manufactured chemically) can be purchased at your local garden and are applied in a dry form that is raked lightly at the base of a plant or in a liquid form. While inorganic fertilizers will work fine they have a number of disadvantages: they release their nutrients too quickly and there is some evidence to show that plants develop a resistance to inorganic fertilizer methods over time, requiring more and more to achieve the same effect. Organic fertilizers are more in tune with nature because they are created from the remains or by-product of an organism. They act slower but they ‘amend’ the soil rather than the quick ‘feeding’ it like inorganic fertilizers.

The pH of your soil will also affect its fertility. Each plant has its own preferred pH value range. To learn more pH and how to change it read my Soil pH article here http://www.gardenstew.com/blog/e3-9-soil-ph-and-its-effect-on-your-garden.html

Conclusion
Soil like a lot of things in the garden requires maintenance. We have learned about the different types of soil texture, what constitutes a fertile, healthy soil and how to create it if it does not exist. The next step is to step out into your garden, take a look at your soil and help your plants out if your soil is of a poor quality. Your plants will thank you ten-fold believe me. Good luck!