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.

Tips For a Healthy Garden

garden tips

 

Gardening can be tremendously therapeutic and good for the soul.  However, it is natural that problems will arise. You could be putting in love, time, and money, but still end up seeing your beloved plants suffer.  Check out our other gardening tips for a healthy garden.  Here are a few signs that your garden might be suffering and solutions:

The birds aren’t coming

Many of us enjoy casual birdwatching.  So, it can be troubling when the birds don’t come. One of the most common causes of birds refusing to come to your garden is that they don’t feel safe.  Do you have a cat or dog?  Or does your neighbor?  Try to place your feeder higher from the ground and out of reach of any ground-dwelling animals.  You should soon see them start to come back into your yard to feed.

 

garden tips

 

The bees aren’t coming

If your garden plants are flowering, but the fruit never seems to materialize, it probably means the bees aren’t coming. We need bees to move from flower to flower.  When they do, they are taking the pollen with them.  As a result, the plants can repopulate.  If doesn’t happen then the plant doesn’t fruit. The best way to counteract this problem is by adding more flowers. The more flowers you have, the most bees will be attracted to your garden, it’s as simple as that!

The trees don’t look right

Trees, just like humans, are susceptible to diseases.  Some are easily treated with fungicides, but others will need more professional intervention by people such as http://www.treeservicefortworth.org/tree-disease. They will be able to diagnose the problem and suggest treatment. Tell-tale signs include spots on the leaves, swellings and knots in the bark, changes in the rate of growth, and unseasonal color changes. If you have any concerns, it’s always best to speak to a professional for advice.

The moss is taking over

Moss can be a great addition to a garden for covering unattractive sections, and making it feel more natural and wild. But if moss seems to be taking over in areas where you don’t want it, it could be due to the soil.  Your soil could be too acidic. This is an easy one to solve. All you need to do is include some wood ash into the soil.  It will balance its pH, making it less hospitable for moss

The plants are struggling

In actual fact, the pH of the soil can have serious effects on all the plants.  So, it’s a good idea before you start doing any serious yard work to use one of the home testing kits to check the pH of your soil. This will allow you to neutralize it effectively, without harming your plants. When soil is too acidic or too alkaline, your plants will struggle to grow and could even die.

Gardens are open to the elements, so it’s easy to see why problems arise. As long as you keep your eye out for changes and react to them effectively, you should have a healthy and beautiful garden.  We hope you enjoyed our tips for a healthy garden.

Container Gardening Is the New Black

gardening, flower gardens, container gardens

 

First, container gardening can bring outdoor spaces to life.  Furthermore, they can bring life to decks, patios, front porches and borders.  I enjoy seeking out plants on clearance or plants on the brink of death and nursing them back to health.  The best way to save money is to start seedlings and plant them in containers in the spring.  Check out my other gardening tips too.

However, the best bargains can be found at Lowes, Home Depot and Wal-mart clearance stands.  Creeping Jenny, a Spike and French Marigolds fill the container below.  I companion plant marigolds with my tomatoes and peppers in my vegetable garden every year too.  I purchased a few extra pots of marigolds on clearance and decided to incorporate them into the containers on my deck.  Spikes are my most expensive plant during the summer.  Unfortunately, I have never seen them on sale or on clearance.

You should know, the Creeping Jenny is an invasive plant.  Planting it in containers is a great way to control it. When I planted the Creeping Jenny initially, I wasn’t expecting it to return year after year.  This is the third year that it has returned in this pot. The contrasting color of the Creeping Jenny, and it’s ability to hang over the pot’s edge makes the pot come to life.  You can see a few purple Petunias hanging over the edge on the right side.

 

container gardening, outdoor living spaces, gardening

 

I carried on the French Marigold and Spike theme on the other side of the deck.  Since I only planted the Creeping Jenny in the one pot, I planted a Sweet Potato Vine in this one.  Planting the Sweet Potato Vine on the side of the pot allows it to cascade down to the floor of the deck.  I’ll be planting this trailing vine again next year.  Sweet Potato vines can be pricey, so I’m going to try growing my own from an actual sweet potato next season.  Stay tuned for that post.

 

container gardening, gardening, outdoor living spaces

 

gardening, container gardening, outdoor spaces

 

Additionally, Moss Roses fill this pot along with a Spike, which give the plant some height.  This plant is easy to grow, and can take hot, sunny spaces.  This plant returns year after year and produces beautiful flowers in a variety of colors.  White, pink, yellow, and red flowers brighten this spot.

window boxes, container gardens, flower gardens

 

Finally, my window boxes that I use on my deck railing.  Petunias find a spot on my deck each year.  Purple, red and white are the usual colors.  Occasionally, I add in pink.  Additionally, I add Vinca to the boxes to create a trailing effect as well.  Normally, I plant 4 Vinca per pot.  This year I decided to add more Petunias instead.  Actually, I found the Petunias on clearance, and cut the cost of filling my window boxes in half without the additional 3 Vinca plants.

I love mixing various plants in containers and watching them come to life. Head out to your local flea market, yard sale or clearance isle and grab a few pots for next year.  When the weather breaks next spring, hit the clearance isle on your local garden center and start creating you garden containers.

 

 

Golden Rules of Organic Gardening

gardening, vegetable gardens

 

Organic gardening has been becoming more and more popular and for a good reason. Whether we are aware of it or not, many gardeners are already working on some form of organic gardening. Organic gardening is the actual practice of growing lawns, vegetables, fruits, shrubs and more without manmade chemicals. It’s also about feeding the soil by tilling compost or manure into the soil.  Check out these gardening tips too.

It is getting harder and harder to do organic gardening since there are many toxins out there that get in the way. However, if you follow these golden rules below you will be able to start a really good organic garden for you and your family:

  • Invest some time and energy to build up your soil with a nice, high amount of organic matter that would be able to support a better quantity of beneficial soil microbes and fungi. Healthy soil will help grow healthy plants.
  • Ensure you have properly placed plants in a location where they will be thriving instead of dying. This is one very important part of expert gardening and landscaping that will help make your plants vigorous and healthy.  Healthy plants will be harder to succumb to disease and pests and they will be less stressed by bad weather.
  • When a disease and pest problem is fist noticed, you will need to take action right away. This will be a lot easier to work with during the early stages of an infestation, so avoid delays when you work on garden maintenance and landscaping.
  • There are many benefits of organic gardening you can enjoy, such as the lack of harmful chemicals in your homegrown food, less overall harm to the land around you, preservation of wetland areas and groundwater in general and more.
  • You can feel a lot better knowing you are actually doing something to change things. We can use compost or composted manure for fertilizer and mulch, not to mention we can use it in a really safe way. Leaves and straw as well as tree bark would make for excellent mulching choices when you need it. Natural-based and organic fertilizers instead of chemically derived ones will also be a major part of your gardening efforts.
  • You can learn to apply the right techniques to make growing healthy plants an easier job, avoiding diseases and pests in the process. A healthy plant will be much more resistant to stress and more, so make sure you keep it that way.
  • You can use beneficial enemies for the pest insect species in your garden.  Such as how ladybugs are enemies of nematodes and aphids.  Additionally, as other species combinations that would be a good solution.

Use natural deterrents and insecticides.  For example, insecticidal soap sprays, copper, sulfur, neem oil and more to solve your disease issues. Use the chance to remove any weeds that are too big for weed killer or work by hand. It will be harder, but it will be worth the efforts.

Ella Andrews is a content writer. She has a passion for home maintenance, healthy living and gardening  projects. She is presently focused on writing and enjoying every opportunity to share tips and advice with her readers.

 

 

 

Why You Should Winter Sow Seeds

 

winter sow seeds

 

I started my winter sowing this week-end, and I started about 25 tomato plants indoors.  I’m hoping to get my garden in early this year and possibly get some plants in the garden twice.  I’ve found that I’ve just about depleted my stash of canned tomatoes, sauce, corn, green beans, peppers and herbs.

Also, I may expand my garden this year.  My grandchildren love my tomato sauce and my sister and daughter enjoy the fresh vegetables as well.  After taking inventory, I realized that I needed to replenish my stock.  So, I’m going to winter sow some vegetable seeds and plant others under the grow lights for my garden.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

Continuing, if you don’t winter sow you should.  Here’s a few good reasons why you try it:

1. Cost Effective –  Winter sowing can be done cheaply.  For example, plastic containers, duct tape, a utility knife, seed starting mix and outdoor space is basically all you need.  A single plant at a garden center will cost $2.00  –  $4.00Things can get expensive if you’re trying to plant a garden to feed a family over the winter at that price.  

2.  Saves Indoor Space Indoor germination requires space.  Once the seedlings germinate they require a warm space with proper lighting.  Many gardeners don’t have space inside their homes for this endeavor.  As a result, they resort to direct sowing in the garden or purchasing expensive plants at the garden center.  Furthermore, you can use your deck, shrubbery beds, backyard tables, backyard benches, your garden, the options are limitless.  I don’t recommend concrete areas unless you have a bedding of straw.  Your plants won’t appreciate a cold bottom from the concrete.

3.  Nature Does The Work Once you place your containers outdoors, you let nature take its course.  The rain, snow, light and moderation of the temperature will help germinate the seed and cause the plant to grow at the right time.  Once spring arrives, you will have to take the top off the plants and give them water, separate or thin them and prepare them for spring/summer planting. How easy is that!

4.  Doesn’t Require A Light System Nature will provide all the light that your plants will need when you use the winter sowing method.  Indoor sowing requires grow lights or some type of fluorescent lighting system.  I have an indoor system and it works great; however, if you have to spend money to set up a system why not go the free route.

5. Doesn’t Require Hardening Off The rigid, mild, and warm temperatures prepare seedlings for movement to the garden.  When you sow seeds indoors you will have to get your plants adjusted to being outside. This requires you to harden off your plants.  Gradually expose your plants to shade, sun and nights before transplanting them in the garden will be necessary.

Once I complete my outdoor sowing, I will be posting a list of seeds you can outdoor sow successfully too.  Start gathering your jugs and containers, you will have plenty of time to start your winter sowing too.  You may also like My Winter Sow Seed List.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Easy to Grow Indoor Houseplants

 

First, it’s hard to admit this, but I am terrible at growing indoor houseplants.  The list of greens that have met their doom under my thumb is rather extensive.  The knowledge of my innate ability to either drown a flower or deprive it of necessary nutrients is a subject of shame.  Especially, when I look my mother-in-law’s garden, which is full of blooms worthy of Eden.
Furthermore, this admission has driven my husband to find me houseplants that are nearly impossible to kill. I believe the tags on these hardy specimens  even say that they are plants of steel.
Needless to say, not everyone is born with a glowing  thumb of green. In fact, many like me are born with a special talent for destroying beauty.  Also, there have been a few lucky houseplants that have survived. It’s these that I highly recommend.  I also recommend them for all of the benefits – like added color to the interior and improved air quality.
 
1.  Ponytail  Palm – This  mini-tree houses a head of long green leaves that are arranged in a way that is reminiscent of elementary school pigtails.  It is easy to care for with  just a cup of water a week.  I think I can handle that – it can grow up to 3  feet tall.
2.   Aloe Vera – Both attractive and  functional, aloe vera is a modern-looking plant with incredible healing properties. Break off one of the shoots and apply the ooze inside to sunburns  for instant relief.
3.  Autograph  Plant – This is by  far one of the coolest indoor plant options. The Clusia rosea is known as the  autograph tree.  The plant’s leaves act as the perfect host for keeping special memories. Simply sketch in your name or draw a picture and it stays  there forever – or at least as long as you keep it alive.
4.   Peace Lily – A perfect plant if you’re fighting a lot. Really,  though, there are few better plants that help clear the air. Known for its great oxidizing attributes, the peace lily – with its white-flag flower – is exceptionally easy to grow and does well in low-lit areas.
5.   Spider Plant – Noteworthy, and another no-fail green. This plant is available in variegated shades as well as monochromatic green.  It has shoots of leaves that spit out from the base like the legs of a spider. 
6.   Pothos – My parents were given one of these as a housewarming gift, and it flourished  under their care, which is somewhat of a miracle considering the horticultural thumb of death runs in my family. Seriously, though: You can start with a small pot of pothos, and before you know it, a blazing trail of green starts to take over.
7.   English Ivy – This is the perfect choice for ridding your home of  litter air. English  Ivy can help break down and reduce the amount of fecal matter in the air left  behind by your beloved furballs. It is, however, toxic to animals and kids; so keep it out of their reach.
Last, try out these seven indoor houseplant options, and may the Gods shine upon them – and your thumb – with favor.  Before you leave, check out other gardening tips on Mother 2 Mother.

 

BIO: Ali is a “Jill of all trades.” She writes about  gardening, home advice and healthy living on her blog Homey Improvements and is a  princess for hire at kids’ parties. Follow her on Twitter @DIYfolks.

Kitchen Garden Sowing Schedule

 

gardening, garden schedules, planting a garden


Organization is key when I’m planning my kitchen garden.
I have a short growing season, so it’s imperative that I sow my seeds timely to ensure that I give my plants adequate time to germinate, be transplanted and grow in my containers or garden.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips before you leave.

I designed this kitchen garden sowing schedule to help keep me on track with sowing my seeds.  You can start sowing your seeds too,  so I thought I would share it with you.  I live in Zone 6B, so I work in my garden from mid-May until October. I can produce quite a few crops in that time period if I stay organized and on track. It also serves as a Check List and keeps me focused on what I will be planting during the season.

If you are a beginner gardener, check the planting zone for your area. You may be able to sow earlier than my schedule and you may have a longer growing season.  Adjust the schedule according to your zone.  

I’m more of a summer gardener than spring.  However, I do plant leaf lettuce which is a cool weather crop. I’m thinking of sowing my lettuce in containers this season.  I’m also going to try collard greens and cauliflower.  These are cool weather crops.  Instead of planting out in the spring, I’ll be planting these out for a fall crop.  I like to have fresh collard greens to serve at Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays.  And I love cauliflower in a cheese sauce.  Yum!

My work starts in mid-March when I set-up my grow lights and sow my tomatoes, peppers, herbs, melons, squash, and zucchini inside. Indoor sowing gives me a head start on the growing season.  Starting my plants from seed also saves me money.  As you can imagine, purchasing plants from a garden center can get expensive.  My goal is to grow fresh produce at a bargain price.

Seeds should be sown indoors 6 – 8 weeks before the growing season begins.  You don’t want to start them too soon.  Your plants could start blooming and you don’t want to plant them if that happens.  I will also be starting my sunflowers using the winter sowing method in the next few weeks.  You can see how I winter sow my sunflowers here.

If you have questions let me know or send your questions to The Mailbox using rhonda@mother2motherblog.com

Home Grown Cantaloupes

 

cantaloupes


My second favorite item in the garden is home grown cantaloupes. My garden is winding down and I’m feeling a little sad.  So, I sooth myself when I’m closing the garden for the year by planning my garden for the next season.  I spend months deciding what I want to plant and that usually cheers me up. Yesterday, I pulled my last squash and cantaloupes. I have tons of tomatoes and green beans left.  As a result, I will can and freeze those next week-end.  I see tomato sauce and salsa on the horizon too.  Great way to use some of my garlic, basil and oregano too.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips before you leave.

Back to my harvest, this was my first year planting cantaloupes, and I’m so glad that I did.  These are Hale’s Best, which is an Heirloom seed, and they are delicious.  I’ll be having fresh cantaloupes for the next few days.  I started the cantaloupe plants under grow lights in mid-March and moved them into the garden in June.  However, you can direct the seeds when the soil warms up.  I mulched around the plants and left about 6 feet of space for them to spread. I harvested eight cantaloupe from 2 plants. Not bad for a pack of $1.00 seeds. I’ll be saving seed from these melons to plant next year.

 

I’m a frugal gardener, I put my garden in for pennies by purchasing Heirloom seeds and than saving the seed from year to year. Purchasing plants from garden centers can get expensive.  I choose what I want to splurge on, and groceries is not one of those things. If you plan to save seed from your garden, make sure you don’t purchase or use Hybrid seeds or plants.  You want the same characteristics of the parent plant versus inbreeding/cross breeding. Heirlooms are the way to go.

I planted Belle peppers, which performed nicely.  After picking them off the plants, I chop and freeze my peppers. I like to get them into freezer bags as soon as I pick them off the vines. The sooner you lock in the freshness the better. Did you know that orange, red, and yellow peppers are green before they turn into these beautiful colors.

Yep, they start out green.  Patience is a must if you want then to reach the red, yellow or orange stage.  Additionally, there are also male and female peppers.  Check out how to determine and use male and female peppers here.

My Kitchen Garden Is Thriving


I spent some time in  my kitchen garden checking on my babies and pulling weeds.  The only negative that find in gardening is weeds.  In the above picture are Sugar Baby watermelons, cantaloupe, and a yellow watermelon which I have never grown before.


I cut down on my peppers this year.  I have an orange, red and green belle.  I lost my white belle. I have a Tabasco and a jalapeno planted as well.  


My Blue Lake pole beans are starting to climb.  Hopefully I will have a good crop.  I did remove the weeds and laid a path of newspaper and leaves to help keep the weeds down.


My sunflowers are getting huge.  I started these in bottles during the winter.  You can see my post on Greenhouse Bottles here.


I have a small bed of lettuce, which is looking good.  I have a shady spot, that receives some sun, so I’m going to start another bed this week. Homegrown lettuce taste so much better than store brought.  

 



My cucumbers are starting to climb.  A few have latched onto my make-shift trellis, but it looks like I will have to train one.  I used left over rabbit fencing for my trellis staked with 2 fence posts. Last year I used a bamboo trellis, it didn’t work very well.  I have Marketmore, Lemon, Boston Pickling and Salt and Peppers cukes in this area.  

 


This is garlic, which I will be digging up in another 1 – 2 weeks.  This is the first season that I was able to grow it successfully.  The first season I planted in the spring, and it did not do well.  I planted this crop last fall and it has done great.  The leaves are starting to dead back, so it’s getting close to  harvest time.  I can’t wait to use fresh garlic in my recipes this summer and into the winter.  


Stay tuned for a future post on the other veggies in the garden.  I’ll be starting my seeds for my fall crops, cauliflower, kale, spinach, and collards.  What’s growing in your garden?  Leave a comment and I’ll stop by to check out what’s thriving.  

How To Freeze Fresh Corn

 

 

freezing fresh corn

 

Fresh corn will be on the market soon and I can’t wait.  I love it grilled, in soup, in chowder, boiled, you name it.  My favorite is Silver Queen. It’s a late corn, but so worth the wait.  Freezing fresh corn is a yearly ritual for me, but shucking it is another issue.  But, I found a solution and worry no more  The microwave is a life saver when freezing fresh corn.  Continue reading ad you will find out how.  Be sure to check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

I shucked, boiled, cut and froze about 100 ears last year.  Preparing corn for the freezer is easy and so worth it.  I purchase my corn from a local farmer.  He sells it at a bargain rate. He removes the corn from the stalks the day before he picks it.  So, it doesn’t get any fresher than this. Purchasing it this way saves space in my garden for other goodies too.

 

freezing fresh corn

Once I get it home, the work begins.  I shuck and remove all silk from the corn.  In about batches of 10 – 15, I boil them for about a minute or two in a large stock pot.

 

blanching corn, canning vegetables, vegetable gardening, preserving corn


You will need to prepare an ice batch for these babies.  This should be completed before you start the boiling process.  An ice bath is imperative in your preparation of the corn for the freezer.  You need to remove the cobs from the boiling water after 2 minutes and immediately place them in the ice water.

The ice water will stop the cooking process.  This is important because you don’t want to cook it as if you’re preparing it to eat.  Although I do leave a few cobs in the boiling water, because I do want to eat them, lol.

 

blanching corn, freezer foods, freezer vegetables, freezing corn for freezer


Once the corn has cooled down about 5 – 10 minutes, cut the corn off the cob in a large bowl.  I use an extra large bowl and a chef’s knife to remove the kernels. I also use the corn holders on one end, it makes it easier to handle the corn while removing the kernels.

Once I have the kernels removed from the cob, I pack quart freezer bags.  Buy quality bags and make sure the bags are sealed properly.  I don’t bother to date the bags because they will be gone by spring.  I’m thinking of purchasing a vacuum sealer this year. If you have one, this would be a perfect time to use it.


Image-Removing-Corn-From-Cob

Quart bags are perfect for my household.  I can just pull out a bag for soup, mix with green beans, fry it or however I want to use it.  It’s as fresh as it was the day I purchased it.  Put a few bags in your freezer to use this winter.  You won’t regret it.  Stay tuned for my post on blanching tomatoes and green beans.  
 Image-Freezing-Fresh-Corn
We hope that you have found our tips on freezing fresh corn beneficial.  You may also like our tips on How to Shuck Corn in the Microwave too.