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.

Growing Beautiful Flowers From Bulbs

Growing Beautiful Flowers From Bulbs
Growing Beautiful Flowers From Bulbs

When most people think of bulbs they often think of daffodils or other similar flowers. However, the bulbous variey of flowers goes well beyond that.

While tulips, hyacinths and snowdrops also belong with the ‘true’ bulb family, there are many flowers that have corms, rhizomes or tubers. These include agapanthus and hippeastrums, dahlias, cannas and other lilies, irises, begonias, anemones and amaryllis, to name just a few.

Not only do bulbs do the work of reproducing the plant, they store food for those months when the leaves die and the plant is dormant. Thus, when the conditions are right the new plant has all it needs to thrust new shoots up into the sunlight.

Most bulbs need moist, rich, free draining soil and a sunny position to grow happily. Many flower in the spring, but such is their diversity, it is possible to have bulbs flowering in every month of the year.

To grow bulbs such as tulips in a temperate region, keep them in the refrigerator for four to eight weeks before planting out at the coldest time of year. In cold ares, plant in late autumn. Tulips like warm, dry summers alkaline soil. They may be affected by aphids, or a fungal condition called ‘tulip fire’ if there is too much moisture about. Their vibrant colors make them well worth a place in the garden.

Bulbs will usually do well if their natural habitat is approximated in the garden. For instance, daffodils are meadow flowers, so like plenty of sun. They will naturalize successfully in the lawn and flower early before the grass becomes too competitive. It’s best not to mow for at least six weeks after the flowers die, because the leaves provide food to the bulb for next years’ growth.

Woodland bulbs like bluebells and snowdrops will do better in a semi-shaded or a dappled sun position. They do well under deciduous trees. Spring-flowering bulbs may be planted near a well-used path or where they can be seen from a window to save trekking over soggy lawns to admire them.

Most bulbs can be grown successfully in containers, but need at least four inches ((10 cm)) of soil below them and 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) above. It’s a good idea to plant bulbs in a pot and bury it in the garden to prevent them from being accidentally hoed during a weeding session. If you have trouble with rodents eating your bulbs, plant them inside a wire cage buried in the garden.

Many bulbous varieties grow easily and are quite tolerant. Do your research, however. Some of the more unusual ones can be found via mail order or on the internet, so take the time to look for them. You’ll be pleased with the result.

Equipment You Need for a More Productive Greenhouse

Equipment You Need for a More Productive Greenhouse
Equipment You Need for a More Productive Greenhouse

Ever wondered how higher altitude places can grow crops in their location? Plants need enough heat and sun’s energy to grow. However, for places that are located in the northern portion of the globe, this requirement may be difficult to attain because of the nature of their weather. Thus, farmers in these places use the greenhouse method to be able to still successfully to grow good quality crops.

A greenhouse is an enclosed structure where plants are being cultivated. This building is usually made of glass or plastic to trap the sun’s electromagnetic radiation to warm the plants and soil inside. Having a greenhouse needs proper maintenance for a more productive crop growing. Different supplies are needed by greenhouse farmers to make this happen.

Greenhouse Supplies
There are different materials and equipment needed for a greenhouse planting to be effective. Here are some examples of the supplies you will need in case you are planning to build a greenhouse:

1. Heating and cooling thermostats. Since temperature is crucial to the efficiency of greenhouse structures, a thermostat is needed to be placed inside the building. The best location to mount it is near the middle of the greenhouse and at plant height. Also, it would be best if both the cooling and heating thermostats are protected from direct contact with water and sunlight.

2. Vents. Greenhouse temperature and humidity should be controlled to attain perfect growing conditions. Thus, vents are needed to be able to get in more air for proper ventilation during warm seasons, or seal out air in colder times of the year.

3. Exhaust fans. For plants to grow healthier in your greenhouse, circulation fans are needed. These fans even out the distribution of fresh air and heat inside the greenhouse.

4. Plant watering systems. Of course, aside from heat and fresh air, plants also need water to grow. You can always do the watering on your own by having water hoses long enough to reach all parts of the greenhouse. Moreover, it would be best if you just have an automatic watering system so you don’t have to worry not having to water your plants when you are out. This watering system should be placed on a shelf above the plants then connect the dipper’s to the circulation tubing.

5. Benches and shelving. These pieces of garden furniture are needed to be able to place more plants in lesser space. They are ideal for greenhouse owners doing gardening as a hobby. Also, a good-sized working bench is needed for potting and re-potting of plants.

6. Lighting system. Having a good lighting system helps increase the speed of growth of plants as it provides plenty of light for longer periods of time.

7. Thermometers. To properly maintain the ideal conditions inside the greenhouse, you will need to monitor the different factors affecting your plantsí growth. Different thermometers are needed for you to be able to track changes occurring inside the structure. Examples of these thermometers are the regular thermometer, humidity gauge, soil thermometer and the light intensity meter.

8. Ground cover. Since weeds are known to grow anywhere, it is best to protect your soil from these weeds that carry pests and diseases to plants. To do this, you can have a ground cover as a floor to your greenhouse or cover it with soil, sand, brick and gravel.

9. Cycle timers. To be able to automate the equipment’s you use in your greenhouse, you can also put a cycle timer which can accurately cycle the equipments on and off time. This is ideal for ventilation controls, irrigation, and misting. With this timer, you do not have to worry going in and out of your greenhouse to turn the machines on and off.

10. Greenhouse books and reading materials. Continuous learning is essential for anything we do. Same goes with maintaining greenhouses. You need to be well equipped with all the necessary requirements of having more productive plant cultivation in your greenhouse. These books and magazines will also keep you updated of the latest news and recent technology releases about greenhouses.

These are just some of the main supplies you need to have a well-maintained greenhouse. There are several items available online or at your favorite garden supplies shop. Take a look at them and determine which ones will be useful to your greenhouse.

Geraniums Galore – A Container Garden Delight

Geraniums Galore - A Container Garden Delight
Geraniums Galore – A Container Garden Delight

All over the country, geraniums flaunt their red and scarlet, rose, pink, and white blooms with a gay abandon that few other plants can rival. In boxes on city fire escapes and rooftops, in window boxes on suburban and country houses, in tubs and pots on terraces and patios, and in hanging baskets of the porches of summer cottages, they are beloved and cherished plants

It needs sun to bloom; it tolerates shade, where it is usually handled as a foliage plant. What it resents is too much moisture and a rich diet. Kept too wet, the leaves turn yellow; given a heavy soil, one high in nitrogen plants go to foliage and flower sparingly.

Even if you choose no other plants, you could have a varied potted garden of single and double zonal, fancy-leaved or variegated, scented-leaved, ivy and Lady or Martha Washington geraniums (also called show or fancy geraniums), not to mention a few oddities of cactus and climbing types.

The zonal geranium is characterized by dark circular markings on the rounded green leaves. Double types dominate the trade and are offered by florists in the spring for planting in gardens and window boxes.

Variegated geraniums, with leaves that are often brilliantly colored, are attractive even out of bloom. Set among green-leaved geraniums and other foliage plants, pots of the variegated plants add color and pattern.

The trailing, ivy-leaved geraniums are among the most profuse flowering when grown under favorable conditions. They dislike shade and high humidity and thrive best in climates with warm days and cool nights, as in California.

Lady Washingtonís, considered the handsomest of geraniums, are not so easy to grow. Like the ivy-leaved, they prefer cool nights and warm, sunny days, preferring shelter from wind and all-day sun.

If you are a geranium gardener, you may want to spark your pot plant collection with some cactus and climbing geraniums. They will give you bizarre and fascinating forms and flowers and are certain to arouse comment.

Geraniums flourish and look well in pots, boxes, and planters. They thrive in various soil mixtures if drainage is good. For abundant bloom, however, supply a special preparation, not high in nitrogen, or lush foliage and few blooms will result. I have success with good garden soil and a sprinkling of a 5-10-5 fertilizer and bone meal. During the growing season, plants respond to a low-nitrogen fertilizer in liquid form.

When potting, be generous with drainage material to insure free passage of water. As with any plant, always water with care, since too much or not enough can be harmful. The best rule is to water when the surface of the soil feels dry. Then soak the soil well and do not water again until plants need it. If soil is kept too wet, leaves will turn yellow; if too dry they wilt and discolor.

To maintain even plant growth, turn containers from time to time. Remove yellow leaves and faded blossoms which are especially distracting on plants at doorways or any other key spots. If rain rots and disfigures the center florets of the heads, pull them off with your fingers, leaving the unmarred outer florets and buds.

If you want plants for next spring, take two- to four-inch cuttings in August or early September. Look for mature stems (with leaves spaced close together) that break easily like a snap bean. Woody growth is hard to root and succulent tips tend to rot. Before planting spread out cuttings in a shady place for several hours so leaves will lose excess moisture.

When ready to plant, cut off the lower leaves, allowing but two or three to each cutting. Also pull off the little wings on the stem, since they are inclined to rot. Dip stem ends in hydrated lime to prevent decay and then insert about halfway, in a flat or large pot of pure sand or a mixture of sand and peat moss. With geraniums, rooting powders are hardly necessary. When cuttings develop inch-long roots, they are ready for spacing out in another flat or for separate planting in 2Ω-inch pots. Fill with a mixture of three parts sandy loam and one part peat moss or leaf mold. After planting, keep in the shade for the first few days, and bring indoors before cold weather.

When the separated cuttings have developed strong root systems, shift to 3Ω- or 4-inch pots. Use the same potting mixture as before, with bone meal added. Later as established plants begin to grow, feed periodically with a high phosphorous fertilizer, as 5-10-5 or 4-12-8.

To keep plants bushy and to encourage branching, pinch while small, starting when they are three to four inches high. Provide sunny windows, and keep turning pots to prevent lopsided growth. Water regularly, but allow soil to dry out just a little between applications

Plants may be wintered in cool cellars with little light. Remember only that the less light, the cooler the temperatures should be. This is because too much warmth and insufficient light cause lanky growth that undermines a healthy plant.

Gardeners with cellars or sheds when temperatures remain above freezing, can winter geraniums hanging upside down from the ceiling. The dead-looking sticks, set out in pots or in the garden in warm weather, will astound you when they develop into glorious flowering plants.

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.

Organic Gardening In The 21st Century

Organic Gardening In The 21st Century
Organic Gardening In The 21st Century

Over the course of the past decade, a significant number of men and women from different parts of the world have taken up gardening. In this regard, these people have found themselves interested both in creating magnificent flower gardens as well as in cultivating thriving vegetable gardens.

A majority of gardeners still rely on what might be considered “mainstream methods” when it comes to the care and maintenance of either their flower or vegetable gardens. In other words, these gardeners tend to rely upon various commercially availabable chemical treatments and products to care for their gardens. Various types of garden-related chemicals — from pesticides to fertilizers — are available readily at garden supply shops and discount retail stores. More often than not, these basic products can be obtained for a fairly reasonable cost.

As a person becomes more involved in the care and maintenance of his or her garden, such an individual tends to become more conscious and aware of how the materials he or she utilizes to tend a garden space actually effects the environment and the plants being grown (particularly vegetables). Consequently, many experienced gardeners (and, in reality, an ever growing number of novices) have turned to organic gardening practices.

Organic gardening practices actually have been around and utilized by people since certain ancient tribes gave up hunting and gathering and settled down to grow their own crops and to maintain their own domesticated animals. In their most basic form, organic gardening practices consists of the use of naturally occuring materials (organic materials) in the care and treatment of a garden patch — vegetable or floral. No man made chemicals or any type are utilized in true organic gardening regimens.

For example, when it comes to providing nutrients for an organic gardening, two resources normally are relied upon: compost and manure. Likewise, when it comes to the issue of pest control, natural steps are taken to rid a garden of offensive bugs and insects. In this regard, benign insects that do not damage plants but who prey upon bugs that harm foilage are placed in a garden or patch to deal with a harmful infestation problem or situation.

In the final analysis, people who espouse organic gardening practices and techniques maintain that the goal or such natural programs is to nourish and protect the soil well into the future rather than providing a quick, seasonal fix for one planting period. Through organic gardening, soil and water contamination is reduced significantly. Additionally, when it comes to the production of vegetables, the food generated from an organic garden is free of harmful chemicals and deemed to be far healthier for human consumption.

Learn About The Different Types Of Roses

Learn About The Different Types Of Roses
Learn About The Different Types Of Roses

A rose is a rose, is a rose, right? Actually, roses come in several distinct varieties and each has its pros and cons. Before you shop for roses for your new rose garden, you should know which types of roses there are.

If you love the way roses look climbing over an arbor, then you may want to take a close look at climbing roses. While most people call any rose that shoots up fast a climbing rose, some of these roses are actually sprawling roses. However, they all basically are roses with vigorously growing canes, small flowers that bloom profusely during the rose’s blooming season, and rather wicked thorns. As climbing roses become well established, some gardeners replace their pruning shears with a tree saw to hack these plants down to a manageable size. These roses are usually quite disease resistant.

When you plant a climbing rose, you should cut down all but three of the strongest, most powerful canes. This gives the rose plenty of energy to put into growing stronger, more vigorous vines. Tie the three canes gently into place to guide them in the direction youíd like them to grow.

If you prefer lush, fragrant blooms, you will want to take a close look at the tea rose. These roses bloom several times a year. The flowers are large, especially if you pinch off the side buds so that the center bud on each stem can get all of the nutrients and energy.

The floribunda rose blooms in groups of flowers. The flower in the middle of each group matures faster than the other flowers, so rose fanciers often pinch that flower off so that the entire group, or spray, opens at the same time.

Once flowering roses are those roses that bloom just one time each year. These roses are absolutely wonderful and are literally packed with blossoms when they do bloom, which is why they are still quite popular.

Shrub roses are incredibly hardy, thorny roses that are fairly low growing. The blossoms on these roses are rarely spectacular, but there are so many that the bushes are quite colorful, even from a distance.

Finally, you may want to consider miniature roses. These tiny roses are the perfect way to edge a garden border with color. Many of these roses are a bit delicate and susceptible to disease, but others are very hardy and grow so vigorously that, eventually, the only thing tiny about them is the size of their leaves.