Category Archives: Mary Hanna

Gardening To Stay Fit

Love to garden? Well here’s good news. Gardening can get you in shape; call it backyard fitness.

You remember when you joined the gym and vowed to go three times a week. Or when you bought the treadmill knowing you would use it everyday. Well, that didn’t happen, did it?

Work in the garden and on the lawn works the heart and other muscles just as effectively as other forms of exercise. Little did we know that pushing a hand mower burns more calories then an hour on the treadmill at 4 miles per hour. Digging and raking burn even more calories. Any amount of aerobic exercise will decrease your risk of heart disease. The risk of heart disease declines for each day of 30 minute yard work you perform.

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Plant Flower Bulbs For Beautiful Container Gardening

As a group,flower bulbs are outstanding plants colorful, showy, and generally easy to grow for container gardening. Many have evergreen foliage; with others, the leaves ripen after flowering and the bulbs are stored and started again, year after year. Some flower bulbs are hardy, others, tender, though what is, and is not hardy, in a particular area is a matter of winter temperature averages. In cold regions, tender tuberous begonias, gloxinias, and calla lilies can be treated like summer in container gardens. This gives the gardener a wide variety to grow from earliest spring to late fall.

Dutch flower bulbs include crocus, snowdrops, eranthis or winter aconites, chionodoxas, scillas, grape hyacinths, leucojums or snowflakes, Dutch hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips, the pride of northern spring gardens. Though hardy, they are not adapted to garden containers outdoors where temperatures drop much below freezing. They require the protection of a shed, unheated cellar or cold frame. Gardening Pots can also be dug into a trench in the ground for the winter and covered with a thick blanket of marsh hay or straw. Where temperatures do not go below freezing, Dutch flower bulbs can be left outdoors in gardening pots over the winter.

For best results in a container garden, start with fresh, firm, large-sized flower bulbs each fall. Insure good drainage in the bottom of each garden pot and use a light soil with bone meal added. If in clay pots, plunge during the rooting period in damp peat moss to prevent rapid drying out. If this occurs too often, roots will be injured and flowers will be poor. When weather permits, after the danger of freezing passes, put your container garden outside where they are to flower or in a nursery row until they reach the bud stage. After blooming, move your container garden where foliage can ripen unseen.

For fragrance, concentrate on Dutch hyacinths, excellent for bedding large planter boxes or raised beds. Daffodils look well grouped around trees or large shrubs, as birches and forsythias. Tulips, formal in character, combine delightfully with pansies, violas, wall flowers, forget-me-nots, marguerites, English daisies, and annual candytuft in container gardens.

As already indicated, in cold areas, Dutch flower bulbs cannot be potted or planted in small window boxes and left outdoors unprotected for the winter. They can, however, be set out in large planters and boxes, deep and wide enough to contain plenty of soil. The garden pots should be one and a half to two feet deep and about two feet wide. Set flower bulbs, with at least six inches of soil above them, planting them early enough in the fall so that they can make root growth before soil freezes hard. In penthouse gardens in New York City, Dutch bulbs have been grown successfully in this way, but it is always a risk. It makes no difference whether garden pots are made of wood, concrete, or other material; it is the amount of soil they hold that counts.

Actually, it is not the freezing of the soil that injures flower bulbs (this occurs in open ground), but it is the pressure and counter pressure exerted by frost on the sides of containers, which are firm and do not give. As a result, flower bulbs are bruised and thrust out of the soil, their roots torn. Where there is no hard freeze, but sufficient cold weather, hardy flower bulbs can be grown successfully in garden containers of small size.

Here is a partial list of flower bulbs that thrive in container gardens. They will help you with your container garden design

Achimenes are warmth-loving trailing plants with neat leaves and tubular flowers in blue, lavender, red and white. Related to gloxinias and African violets, they are nice in hanging baskets and window boxes or in garden pots on tables, shelves, or wall brackets. Start the small tubers indoors and give plants a sheltered spot with protection from strong sun and wind. Achimenes, an old standby in the South, is worthy of more frequent planting.

Agapanthus or Blue Lily of the Nile is a fleshy-rooted evergreen plant, with strap leaves, often grown in tubs and urns on terraces and steps during the summer, when the tall blue spikes unfold. Culture is easy, but plants require a well-lighted, frost proof room or greenhouse in winter. This is an old-time favorite, often seen in the gardens of Europe. It is a perfect flower bulb for container gardening.

The Calla Lily is Showy, and outdoors in warmer regions, but a tender pot plant in the North. Most familiar is the white one with large, shiny, heart-shaped leaves. Start bulbs indoors in February or March in rich soil and, when weather settles, transfer to large gardening pots and take outdoors. Calla lilies do well in full sun or part shade, are heavy feeders and need much water. There is also a dainty yellow one with white-spotted leaves. Rest your flower bulbs after foliage ripens and grow again.

Colorful and free-flowering Dahlias provide bounteous cut blooms. Tall, large-flowering kinds can be grown only in large planters and boxes, but the dwarfs, even freer flowering, are excellent in small garden containers. Attaining one to two feet tall, they grow easily from tubers in average soil in sun or part shade. They may also be raised from seed sown indoors in February. If tubers are stored in peat or sand in a cool, frost proof place, they can be grown for years. Check bulbs during winter, and if shriveling, sprinkle lightly.

Gladiolus, the summer-flowering plant has spear like leaves and many hued spikes. Corms can be planted in garden containers outdoors after danger of frost is passed. Set them six inches apart and four to six inches deep. The best way to use these in container gardening is to planting a few every two to three weeks, giving you a succession of bloom in your container garden. Stake stems before flowers open. After the leaves turn brown, or there is a frost, lift corms, cut off foliage and dust with DDT to control the tiny sucking thrips. After dusting, store corms in a dry place at 45 to 55 degrees F for future planting.

Gloxinias, another Summer-flowering plant and tender with large, tubular blooms of red, pink, lavender, purple, or white, and broad velvety rosettes of leaves. Start tubers indoors and don’t take outside until weather is warm. Since the leaves are easily broken or injured by wind or rain, put plants in a sheltered spot. The low broad eaves of contemporary houses, with restricted sun, offer an appropriate setting for rows of pots or window boxes filled with gay gloxinias.

Now you have some great ideas for your container garden design. It’s time now to start planting your flower bulbs.

Happy Container Gardening!

Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

How To Grow And Handle Fresh Herbs From Your Garden Beds Or Your Container Garden

How To Grow And Handle Fresh Herbs From Your Garden Beds Or Your Container Garden
How To Grow And Handle Fresh Herbs From Your Garden Beds Or Your Container Garden

In any recipe calling for herbs, use fresh herbs. Preparing the herbs for your dish is easy. The more tender herbs like mint, parsley, basil and cilantro can be gathered in a bowl and snipped with scissors. This is the fastest and safest way to chop the herbs. If your recipe calls for the more hardy herbs like oregano, rosemary, or thyme you should use the stripping method. Hold a branch of the herb upright in your fingers and run the fingers of your other hand down the stalk stripping the tiny leaves free. The flavor will be more intense if you have gathered the herbs from your herb gardens or container gardens because they will be absolutely the freshest herbs available.

The best way to have fresh herbs is to plant and grow them yourself. No longer is there a designated herb garden. They can be found in your flower beds, along walkways or in pots on your porch. Many ambitious gardeners are finding new ways to incorporate herbs into their garden beds and their container gardens.

Many gardeners are unaware of the beauty of flowering herbs and never consider planting them within their flower beds. Some herbs that have beautiful flowers are purple coneflower, catmint, bee balm, yarrow, pinks, lavender, pot marigold, borage, feverfew, and nasturtium which is particularly lovely in fresh salads.. Many other herbs, such as parsley are excellent next to flowers of all sorts because of their spectacular foliage. When planting red or blue flowers, place purple basil around them for an artful arrangement.

Another area to consider is to use herbs as ground cover. The herbs that are suitable to this are the low growing oregano, chamomile, woolly and other creeping thyme, mint, and rosemary. Not only will it look pretty but it will be absolutely fragrant. Just be careful of the mint family, they tend to take over everything.

One of the best ways I have grown herbs is in containers. In fact, I like container gardening so much I wrote my eBook Container Gardening Secrets (available at ContainerGardeningSecrets.com), so everyone could enjoy this type of gardening. The beauty of a container garden is that it is portable and can be changed at a moment’s whim. When there is no more room in your garden, start a container garden which you can place on your door step or patio. Use them to fill in bare spots that come up during the gardening season or put them on a sunny window sill in your home for easy harvesting. Best of all you can bring your herb containers inside over the winter months and continue to harvest for months to add to your tasty meals or to be used for medicinal purposes.

Another way to employ pots in your garden is to plant invasive herbs such as mint into a pot and then plant pot and all into the ground. This is an easy trick to keep those creepers from taking over your garden beds.

Plant a container garden near your door with the cherry pie scented blue flower heliotrope and other fragrant herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil. Every time you walk by you will be greeted with there delicious scent.

Some herbs that have grown on rocky hillsides over the centuries such as thyme, oregano and lavender are perfect for cracks in flag stone paths or walls and rock gardens. They thrive in hot dry areas with good drainage. Some believe that those herbs grown in these conditions produce much better flavor.

Now is the time to plant your herbs, whether it is in a garden bed, a cracked wall or a container garden. Use your imagination. Consider color height and texture when planting your gardens. Not only will it be visually pleasing but your cooking will improve too!

Happy Gardening!

Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

Window Box Gardening Tips And Techniques

window box
window box

In this country, window box gardening offers apartment dwellers the enjoyment of container gardening from within or without. If you live in just one room or on a very small property, you, too, can have a window box garden filled in spring with pansies and primroses, in summer with petunias or fuchsias, and in fall with chrysanthemums. In winter, greens and berries, like bittersweet or California pepper berries with pine, give colour. English Ivy will provide trailing green all winter if kept out of the wind.

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