If you've ever walked down the garden section of The Home Depot and were amazed at the amount of garden tools you're not alone. For such a simple pastime, gardening has become increasingly complex in recent decades. From small, gas-powered cultivators to electric grass shears, the tranquil art of gardening has been commercialized with all of the latest technology. If you're just keeping a small flower or vegetable garden, there's no need for all the gadgetry. Our ancestors made due for thousands of years with simple tools. Here are the five utilitarian tools that will prove useful in your garden today.
Grow bags are a great way to have a moveable garden and to isolate large plants that would otherwise take up too much space in your raised beds. Gardener’s Supply Company (gardeners.com) sells attractive, heavy duty fabric bags in several colors and sizes that will allow you to expand your vegetable garden easily and conveniently. They are fun and easy to use and can be used for many years. They even fold flat if you empty them after the growing season is over. Potato grow bags are a clever and fun way to grow potatoes and the kids love to dig for them in the fall. Suggestion: buy seed potatoes at farm supply stores no later than April, as they sell out quickly. You do need to use seed potatoes, as regular grocery store potatoes are treated and won’t grow as well. Another effective to grow large vegetable plants, such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, is to use self-watering containers. Such containers can be obtained from Gardener’s Supply or you can purchase Grow Boxes at A Garden Patch (www.agardenpatch.com). The latter supplies a slow-release fertilizer patch that covers the soil for each container. In each case, the rectangular plastic container has a deep well on the bottom and it’s only a matter of keeping the well full, eliminating the need to water daily. The roots of the plants reach down into the well and, combined with the fertilizer on the top of the soil, happily thrive in a sunny location. The grow boxes are sturdy and can be reused from year to year. You only need to buy new Grow Patches for each new season. This is a highly successful method to raise all the produce you will need and then some. Your neighbors and family will thank you, as you will be surprised at the bounty of vegetables you will reap. One final note: don’t forget to water the containers each day, as they dry out more quickly than in ground gardens.
A vegetable garden is the perfect addition to your landscape adding color and texture to your yard. It is wonderful to grow and harvest your own fresh vegetables. If you are considering adding a garden to your landscape or you already have one, here are some tips you may find helpful. Location: Choosing the correct location for a vegetable garden is key. You want to ensure the optimal growing conditions while complimenting your yard at the same time. Stay away from the family's high traffic areas, avoid your children's favorite places to play, and be aware of the path the dog takes when running through the yard. Raised beds and container gardens can compliment many areas of the yard as well as the deck and patio. Sunlight: Find an area in your yard that gets the maximum amount of direct sunlight. Eight hours of sunlight per day is optimal, however many plants will still thrive with less. Gardens that encounter partial shade during the day can be planted according to the need of each plant. Just keep in mind, the more sunlight the better. Planting: When choosing what to plant in your garden, you will need to take into consideration the length of the growing season, the amount of space you have to work with, and the potential yield of each plant. Purchasing small, well established plants is a great way to get started, however sowing seeds directly in the garden soil is preferred for some vegetables such as carrots, and radishes. Be sure to leave the appropriate amount of space between plants to allow them to grow to their full potential. Be sure to provide the proper support for plants that grow vertical such as beans, peas and cucumbers, and stakes for your tomatoes. The professionals at your local garden center can help guide you to the plants that will best meet your needs. Feed and Water: As with every living thing, your garden plants will need food and water to grow. Be sure the garden soil is kept loose at the base of the plants so the water will be absorbed. It is most beneficial to your plants to water in the early morning or later in the evening. There is a wide range of plant food available, organic fertilizer is always a great option. Be sure to read labels carefully, and always use as directed. Maintenance: To ensure your garden grows to its full potential you will need to keep the weeds under control. Pull out the weeds and loosen the soil with a hand scratcher or cultivator to inhibit re-growth. Grass clippings, straw, and other organic matter can be placed around the plants to keep the soil cool and moist and keep weeds from growing. There is also a variety of garden cloth and plastic sheeting for weed control available at your local garden center. A vegetable garden is a wonderful addition to any yard. There is nothing better than being able to pick your own fresh produce. The more time you have to put into your garden the better your harvest will be.
Flowers, if properly planted add color, style and allure to the look of the home. They are a cost effective way of giving your home and yard that desired face lift. However, to optimize the benefits that flowers provide, there are a few basics that should be understood in order to give the flowers what they need. Sun is fundamental Planting and growing flowers requires some hard work and consistent maintenance. However, it is important to recognize that the energy from the sun is the key element in keeping flowering plants in full bloom. The recommended sunlight exposure to plants requiring full sun is between 6 to 8 hours daily. Shade tolerant plants do not have the same sun requirement, therefore it is important to know the needs of your flowers prior to planting. Good Soil Is Critical The quality of the soil is very important as this is where the success of your plant lies. It should be rich in organic matter to increase the mineral availability and the diversity of other microbes. The texture of the soil will vary depending on where you live. Your goal is to provide a rich, PH balanced soil for your plants that will allow for easy expansion of their root systems. Healthy soil is equally as important to vegetable and flower gardens. Feeding your garden soil is an ongoing process. Annuals and Perennials As far as planting is concerned, this needs to be taken into consideration as these are the two major types of plants. For annuals, their entire life cycle is in a single growing season. The plant sprouts, grows leaves and roots, produces flowers, and dies at the end of the season. Some gardeners prefer them because if properly taken care of, they will bloom all season. Perennials are flowers that stay alive all season and come up every year. Even when the part above the soil dies back, the root systems stay alive and sprout again the next growing season. Most perennials spread and multiply making them a gardener's delight. However, spring and fall transplanting is often required to maintain a well manicured perennial garden. Which is preferable? The choice of which type of plant to use in the garden is relative as they all serve a different purpose. If you desire lots of flowers, annuals are great, however, they will require lots of care and watering to keep them alive. Be ready to replace them after one year. For perennials, they provide a steady structure for the look of the garden. Depending on your preference, you can go for either. For perennials, whether they are bought as plants or seeds, they may require up to a year or more to get established and bloom. If you desire flowers right away, annuals are recommended, however, some gardeners combine perennials and annuals to ensure full color throughout the season. Seed or Plant Annuals and perennials can be sown directly from seed. It will take time for them to sprout and develop. The duration for this depends largely on the plant variety and environmental factors. You need to provide the optimal growing conditions in order to produce healthy plants. The other option is to purchase plants from a greenhouse that were grown by a professional. Choose plants that are strong and healthy looking and hardy to your area. Selecting a plant that is in the budding stage will typically provide a longer flowering season than one that is already in full bloom. Cost of Labor Taking care of flowers requires a commitment to regular watering and fertilizing. Plants that produce flowers throughout the season require a lot of nutrients, water, as well as sun light. Perennials are not totally carefree either, depending on the season, they may require some measure of attention. However, perennials tend to need the least amount of basic maintenance. Here is a list of 5 annuals that can be grown from the seed.