Backyard Garden Tips That Will Make You Look Up

 

backyard gardening tips

 

I don’t know about you, but when I am busy in my garden, I am usually looking down.  After all, that’s where all the plants and flowers are, right! But I’ve just realized that it could actually be worth looking up while you are gardening. Here are a few backyard garden tips and reasons why:

Check Your Trees

It’s not just the plants and flowers in the ground that are susceptible to various diseases and pests. The trees in your gardens are as well. So, how do you know if you need to contact a tree surgeon such as http://www.arboristusa.com/? Well, the first sign of a fungal tree disease will always be noticeable in the leaves. More often than not, they will be very discolored. Your tree might also start losing leaves at an excessive rate. Next time you are out in your garden, look up to make sure your trees are in good health!

Think About Lights And Lamps

Would you like to spend your summer evenings sitting outside enjoying your garden? If so, you might want to add some lights and lamps to brighten up the outside of your property. Look up to see the best places you could put your lights. Usually, most homeowners like to place outdoor lights on the side of their property and garden shed. Another nice idea is to wrap some fairy lights around the top of your fences and any railings that you have in your garden. Just make sure that they are safe to use outside: http://www.screwfix.com/c/electrical-lighting/weatherproof-switches-sockets/cat830538.

Look Out For Birds

When you look up, you might notice a few birds flying around and nesting in your garden. Don’t notice many? If not, you can always encourage more birds to come to your garden by adding a bird feeder. Make sure it is always filled with bird feed so you can to attract a wide variety of birds. You might want to also include a bird bath in your garden, as this will encourage birds to visit your property for a bath as well!

Hanging Baskets

If you want to add some more dimensions to your garden, it could be worth adding some hanging baskets. You can hang these from the side of your property and wooden fences. These will increase the amount of flowers in your garden, and will give you a chance to add even more bursts of color. You will be able to find a wide variety of hanging baskets in your local garden center. Or you could try making your own from flower pots.  If you don’t find hanging baskets appealing, you could install raised flower beds. This is another great way to add some dimension to your garden!

So, next time you are working in the garden, don’t just focus on the ground below your feet. Look up and see the rest of your garden!  We hope that you enjoyed our backyard garden tips.

 

 

5 Things Beginner Gardeners Overlook

beginner gardeners

 

Gardening is becoming an increasingly popular activity.  And it’s not hard to see why. It offers a great source of light exercise, provides fresh air, and adds a new dimension to your property. Frankly, what’s not to love?

So,  this time of year many inexperienced gardeners embrace their growing love of using their outdoor spaces. However, many of them will limit their success due to basic errors. Here are five common issues that you must look out for:

Wasting money:  Let’s face it, your list of potential garden upgrades is as long as your arm. With this in mind, cost-efficiency should be at the top of the agenda. Remove the middleman by doing some of the work yourself. For example, investing in chainsaws and other garden tools.  Having your own tools will enable you to complete most jobs without the need of an expert.  Furthermore, it’s imperative to remember the right safety gear too. Some challenges may still require a professional touch.  However, keeping those to a minimum can be good for your finances. In return, make additional improvements with the savings.

Being short-sighted: When completing any garden overhaul, it’s easy to get carried away. Yet, it’s equally important to consider the long-term benefits. Reducing the maintenance with artificial lawns and other time-saving gestures will aid the cause. After all, keeping the space in great health is probably the hardest challenge.  Besides, it’ll leave you with more time to enjoy the gardening tasks that are actually fun and rewarding.

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Ignoring the potential:  First and foremost, we want our gardens to look nice. However, the outdoor space is also a great resource for making life a little more comfortable. Growing fruit and veg is a fantastic way to actively encourage your love of gardening while gaining huge rewards. Meanwhile, you shouldn’t overlook the benefits of having a BBQ.  Comfortable garden furniture is good too.  After all, the more time spent in this area the better. If nothing else, it will provide another incentive to keep up the good work.

Overlooking personal needs:  No two gardeners are identical.  So, dealing with your unique situation is key. Not everyone has the mobility to bend down to flower beds.  Also, hanging baskets and raised flower beds can be very beneficial. Unfortunately, if your gardening tasks are causing pain you may give up.  Find ways to add comfort to your tasks.  Your passion will remain far more enjoyable.

Focusing solely on the garden: Your love of nature doesn’t have to be limited to the backyard. The front garden is often a great place to add a little natural beauty. Moreover, indoor houseplants can inject a new sense of energy to the property. You could even grow herbs in the kitchen to further enhance your bid for practicality.

Maintaining Garden Equipment and Replacing It

garden equipment

 

Gardening equipment is undoubtedly an expense.  As a result, we have a few tips on maintaining garden equipment. Without the proper equipment, maintaining your garden can feel like a chore.  Most equipment is designed to last many years without the need for replacement.  Check out other gardening tips before you leave.  Here’s a few basic gardening essentials:

  • Lawnmower –  An essential, really.  There’s no way a garden can look good if the grass is overgrown.  Furthermore, this tends to be the most expensive piece of garden equipment that people own.  The average lifespan of a mower is 10 years – though this can vary.  If you’re considering making a purchase, consult Lawn Mower Lane. They have reviews on Hand Reels, Riding Mowers and Tractors, Robotic Mowers and Walk Behinds.
  • Rake –  Those leaves aren’t going to jump into the pile.  Your kids need something to play into this fall. A leaf rake will be called into use!
  • Hoe –  Using a hoe is the easiest way to weed. Hoes are generally inexpensive and can take quite a bit of use.
  • Hand fork/trowel –  These are essentials for planting seedlings and getting rid of weeds that have taken up residence deeper in the soil.
  • Wheelbarrow –  There’s more uses for a wheelbarrow than you can count.  A few are moving grass cuttings to helping transport newly potted plants to their desired location.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it is a basic one.  If you have owned any of the above items for over five years, it might be worth checking them out for issues.  Maintaining garden equipment before you dive into the new gardening season is a must. Poor equipment can equal a poor finish on any work that you do.  Here’s a few signs of what to look out for:

Rust

If there’s rust on any parts of any of these tools, then you have two options. You can try rust removal.  The success removing the rust can vary.  Or you can simply replace the tools. Rust isn’t inherently dangerous – it’s just a chemical reaction after all – but it can make results unpredictable.

Mechanical Problems

Obviously this is specifically for lawnmowers. Don’t assume that just because the mower does its job that it’s in good condition.  There could be hidden issues. Take it for a tune up at a repair shop. While you’re there, have it checked for other issues that may not be obvious and other safety concerns.

Weakness

Specifically for rakes and hoes.  After years of use, tools can begin to weaken.  Handles can crack or pieces fall off.  Given these items are generally inexpensive, it might be more efficient to just purchase new one.

We hope that you have found our tips on maintaining garden equipment helpful.  Be sure to check your equipment each gardening season.

Grow Your Own: 13 Money Saving Fruits and Vegetables

garden tips, gardening, money saving tips

Each season I select the top money saving fruits and vegetables that I need to plant in my kitchen gardening. Budgeting and doing things in the most efficient and frugal way is my motto. I plant vegetables that I can preserve for meals and herbs for seasoning sauces and other dishes. Additionally, I also plant a few fruits that I can enjoy in the summer.  Because I grow my own, I don’t have to purchase from the grocery store.  

 


Here’s my top 13 money saving fruits and vegetables:  

 

  1. Tomatoes – I plant and harvest enough to preserve whole or quartered for soup.  I also make sauces for spaghetti and other pasta dishes, chili, and salsa. I also grow cherry tomatoes for salads and snacking. 
  2. Peppers – I pickle and freeze them. Great in dishes, sandwiches, and on top of nachos and cheese.
  3. Zucchini – I make fresh muffins and zucchini bread, but I also freeze it to make these items during the winter.  
  4. Greenbeans – I freeze these for soup and for side dishes during the winter. 
  5. Onions – A majority of my dishes call for onions, so I preserve these for using during the winter. 
  6. Garlic – Fresh garlic is great in salsa and sauces. 
  7. Herbs – I dry my herbs for winter use.  
  8. Potatoes – Red and Yukon Gold potatoes get plenty of use in my house.  
  9. Cucumbers – Great for salads and homemade pickles.
  10. Lettuce – I grow leaf lettuce for sandwiches and salads during the summer.
  11. Strawberries – Great for jam. 
  12. Watermelon – I love fresh watermelon on a hot summer day. I grow Sugar Babies.
  13. Cantaloupe –  Great breakfast fruit.  
 
What does your family eat most from your kitchen garden or containers?  These are the veggies that you should plant. You will save money on your grocery store bill and they will taste much better. 
 
 

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How To Make Newspaper Seedling Pots

gardening tips

 

Last week I posted a seed sowing schedule that I use to help organize and keep me on track with sowing my kitchen garden seeds and suggested that you use it to help organize your kitchen garden too.  I hope you found it beneficial. I had also mentioned taking inventory of your peat pots, you will need them to sow your seeds indoors if you want to get a jump on the growing season.

To help cut down on the expense, I make newspaper seedling pots to sow my seeds indoors if I miss the boat on finding peat pots on clearance at the Dollar Store or Big Lots. I thought I would show you how to make the pots to cut down on your expense too.  If you have children that can handle making the pots, let them spend the afternoon making them for you.   

What you will need:

  • Newspaper (single sheets folded in half)
  • Pint jar 
  • Duct or scotch tape

In the above picture, I’m using 1 single sheet of newspaper folded in half.  You will want to fold the paper across not length wise. Next,  I used a pint size canning jar, leaving about a 1/4 inch of the mouth of the jar out of the newspaper as shown below. Roll the jar until all of the newspaper is used. Make sure the newspaper is rolled evenly.  Tape the ends of the newspaper together.  I actually used scotch tape, but duct tape will work too.    

 

Turn the jar upside down. The opening of the jar should be face down.  Fold the bottom of the newspaper as if you’re wrapping Christmas gift.  Tape the folds down. 

 

 

Remove the jar from the newspaper, and you have a newspaper pot.  These are great for starting herbs, tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, melons etc. Fill the pot with seed starter mix (I use Miracle Gro) and you’re ready to plant your seeds according to the package. Don’t use potting soil to start your seeds indoors.  The soil is to heavy for the plant to emerge through.

Once the seed has germinated and has grown 2 – 3 inches tall, I transplant them into plastic cups to give them more room to grow.  You can leave them in these newspaper pots if you’re leery of transplanting.  If you leave them in, I recommend removing the newspaper before you place them in your garden or containers. I’ll discuss transplanting seedlings in a later post.  

When you start your seeds you will want to water from the bottom up so you won’t displace your seeds.  I also recommend planting 2 or 3 seeds in your pot.  You have better odds of germination using 2 or 3 seeds.  Once the plant(s) has grown 2 – 3 inches, you can leave the strongest seedling and discard the other plants.  

Just pinch off those you don’t want and discard them.  If you’re feel brave transplant all of them.  Sometimes plants will suffer transplant shock when you pull them apart at the root so don’t be disappointed if all don’t survive. 

I use a tray to hold and water my seedlings.  You can purchase the trays at your local dollar store.  They usually come with cells of 72, but I remove the cells and just use the trays to hold my water and seedling pots.  

I don’t like the cells because they are so small and you will definitely have to transplant if you use them.  I prefer to let the plant have room to form a nice root ball in a newspaper or peat pot, and if I’m short on time I don’t have to worry about transplanting. Efficient and cost effective is my goal.  

 

I germinate my seeds on heat pads under grow lights.  You can start them on top of your refrigerator if you don’t have heat pads or in your laundry room on a shelf. Seedlings really don’t need light to germinate, they need warmth and moisture. Once they germinate, you will need to place them under a grow light immediately. The light should be no more than 2 inches above your seedlings or they will get leggy. You must raise the light as they get taller.

 

This is a picture of my tomato and pepper plants that I started last season in peat pots and the watering tray that you will need. See how the pots are soaking up the water from the bottom. Fill the tray half way with water and allow your pots to absorb it. If you need to add more water add a little at a time. You don’t want your pots sitting for days in a water filled tray I cover my peat pots with Saran Wrap to help keep in the moisture when I’m germinating the seed. Rubber bands are used to keep the Saran Wrap nice and tight. This step is not necessary, but I find it helps with germination.  I remove the Saran Wrap immediately once the seeds have germinated.  Unfortunately, I can’t use this method with the newspaper pots.
 
You will need to check your pots several times a day. You can have no germination in the morning and sometime during the day they may germinate. As soon as I see green stating to come through, I remove the Saran Wrap. Tomatoes have a tendency to jump up, so you may want to remember that if you have them covered with the Saran Wrap. I also use plant markers so I will know what I’ve planted.  Stay tuned I will show you how to make your own markers to cut down on expense.
Now start making those newspaper pots or your peat pots so you will be ready to sow your seeds and remain on schedule with your kitchen garden. If you have small pots that your purchased flowers in last year, you can use those too.  You will need to clean them in a bleach solution before using.
 
If you have questions about this post or other gardening questions feel free to send an email to The Mail Box using rhonda@mother2motherblog.com and I will respond.  I may share your questions with other readers, but I won’t use your name or email address.  They may have the same question or find the information useful too.
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