Archive for November, 2009

What Exactly Are Gazing Balls?

Monday, November 30th, 2009

There are basically two different kinds of gazing balls. One of them is the lawn gazing ball, or a yard globe, and this is often confused with a crystal ball, which is entirely different. A gazing ball is a highly polished sphere, and reflects the surrounding area where you put it. In many cases, they are put on some kind of stand, in a yard or garden area. While they were originally made of glass, these days most are made of highly polished stainless steel.

However, there are many other materials gazing balls can be made from, not all of which have any kind of reflective surface. Some are made from different kinds of stone, and some are even decorated to provide an extra feature to your yard. There are some that even change colors. There is the Solar Color-Changing Gazing Ball for example. This clear ball is on a it’s own stand, and has the appearance of cracked glass. Inside there is a powerful LED light, with six different colors that rotate on a constant basis at night. The nice thing about this particular product is that it is solar powered, and the panel is on a 14′ cord, so you can put this gazing ball almost anywhere. It charges a Ni-Cad Battery pack, which stores the electricity, and runs at night. It is a very unique piece, and can be purchased for around $90.

Gazing balls come in a wide assortment of sizes, as well as many styles of stands. They don’t have to have a stand, but for a more impressive appearance, a stand should be used. They range in price from under one hundred dollars, to well over that, some even up to $500 or more, depending on materials, and what they do, like light up. A gazing ball can make a wonderful conversation piece to any yard.

There are many different ideas about how and when the gazing balls first came into being. Some can be traced to Venice in the 13th century, but they have been used for much longer than this. There are folklore tales about how using a gazing ball in your yard can ward of evil spirits, and bring good luck and prosperity. They were also known as Butler Balls, which were used by servants to see what was going on outside with their masters without actually looking at them. When they saw that they were needed, they would suddenly appear, and be thought of as having psychic powers.

Now gazing balls are not crystal balls, and should never be used for the purposes of scrying. These are made from quartz, or other materials, but quartz is the most common. People who gaze into these crystals are gazing into them to see insights on themselves and on others. Usually they are on a pewter stand of some kind, and these stands can be highly detailed with runes and other symbols. They can be used with candles behind them as well, and are also used in meditation. “Look into the crystal ball.” 😉

Gazing Ball

Gazing Ball

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Add Charm With a Squirrel Feeder

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

If you are thinking of adding something new and fun to you home and garden, you may consider a squirrel feeder. Having a squirrel feeder can have many advantages. For one, they provide hours upon hours of entertainment for anyone who wants to watch. Squirrels can be somewhat of a nuisance, but when you have squirrel food in feeders where you choose it can change their focus away from unwanted areas. So not only will you be able to turn a possible negative into a positive, you will be able to see your furry friends have fun. Squirrels are naturally very playful and can be very entertaining to watch.

There are several types of squirrel feeders that you can buy, or you can choose to be creative and make them yourself. Most squirrel feeder designs are easy and something your entire family can join in on. You can have an entire squirrel town if you like. The important part is just to have fun and make it fun for the squirrels. Squirrels like challenges and view getting to food as a great test of their master thieving skills. Making the feeders like a puzzle can be entertaining for both you and your squirrel friends. It is always a good idea to hang the feeders. This makes it more difficult for larger scavenger animals like raccoons to get to it, and it adds a certain amount of challenge for the squirrel to get to the feeder. Squirrels love to swing, jump, bounce, and they will make a game out of just about anything including gathering food. Although, squirrels sound like a bunch of goof offs they are extremely intelligent and can figure out most any puzzle put in front of them, however they have a very short attention span, so make sure it is not too difficult for your furry friend may loose interest. Squirrels are opportunistic eaters and will eat what is closest to them. Although squirrels welcome a challenge, they will move on to something else if they find that it is just not worth the trouble. Squirrel feeders, such as a feeder swing or one with a lid, allows the squirrel to come up with an attack strategy without making it too difficult.

When choosing to have squirrel feeders, it is good to consider all that is involved. Unless you wish to allow discarded seeds to grow, you will want to keep the area around the feeders clean. Another thing you want to be sure of is your friends food supply. It is good to be sure that the feeders have food in them, if you are trying to keep them from any unwanted scavenging. There are several different types of squirrel food you can use, ranging from squirrel feed to dried corn and peanuts. An adult squirrel can pack away as much as one pound of food a week. So, you may want to consider that as well. Remember, once you have invited them, you want to keep them occupied with good food and nice treats. These cute and fluffy squirrels can be destructive. However, with the right squirrel feeder and squirrel food, you can have friends for life and entertainment for the whole family. Your squirrels will not only thank you for giving them a squirrel feeder, they will erect a monument in your honor. 😉

Squirrel Feeder

Squirrel Feeder

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Why Should I Make A Compost Pile?

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

There is not one answer as to why you should make a compost pile. There are in fact several benefits of a compost pile – not only for yourself, but for your garden and the environment as a whole.

In terms of you and your garden, creating your own compost pile will provide you with enough fertilizer for your beloved vegetables and plants the whole year through. The fertilizers that you can buy are an expense that you could eliminate with composting. It is time to recycle your kitchen and garden waste into something worthwhile, if you don’t – your throwing away your money. Kitchen and garden waste are the main components of composting, a source of which will naturally decompose on your compost heap to provide you with an organic mulch and nutritious food for your soil.

Landfills are primarily filled with the household waste of you and everyone else on the planet. However, sending your waste off to landfill is going far off the ‘green’ trail. Organic gardening and green living is finally being understood and pursued for its benefits not only on your individual gardens but for the environment as a whole. Biodegradable produce such as grass cuttings, the leftovers of fruit and vegetables and so on are so very advantageous to our planet. The nutrients and matter that they have are the perfect food for all wildlife, especially plants, trees and flowers – sending them off to landfill is a waste of resources. Not only that, but if you choose to utilize manufactured fertilizer sprays – the chemicals within them are damaging the atmosphere.

I hope that the benefits of composting are starting to sink in. Creating your own compost pile is very simple and will not require much time or effort once it is set up. You might be thinking that your garden is not big enough to accommodate a compost pile – but you are wrong to do so, there is a size to fit all. What if you don’t grow anything in your garden? Well, consider helping out your neighbors or family by producing compost for their gardens. They will appreciate it no end!

The container for your compost is not really an issue – you could buy a plastic or wooden hold, build one by yourself or just leave it on the ground without any container. The importance lies in the actual compost pile – not it’s container.

The best way to create a compost heap is to have it in contact with the open ground. This allows for the organisms already living in your soil to access the heap with ease. Insects, worms and some fungi are the mechanics in turning your waste into a fine substance to use in the garden.

The other important factor and the only real work you will need to do is adding the right waste and turning it around on a regular basis. The right waste is basically anything that is decomposable. Synthetic fibers should not be dumped on the pile – such as plastic. Your compost pile will welcome all garden waste like fallen leaves, grass cuttings and weeds. Kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings, fruit cores and paper. For the organisms to carry out their job properly they require plenty of air circulation throughout the heap – so use a garden fork or spade to give it a good mix.

Once you have set up your compost heap and witnessed the benefits and improvements it has made to your garden, I guarantee there will be no turning back! 😉

Compost Pile

Compost Pile

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Which Is Best, Garden Clogs Or Garden Boots?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Unless you live in Hollywood, you won’t find anyone working in the garden wearing his or her Prada high heels. When working in the garden it is important to wear proper attire, including sturdy boots or clogs. While wearing your old pair of shoes works, your feet are not getting the support they need. Garden clogs and boots are built to withstand the muddiest – and dirtiest – of occasions. Whether you are digging a new hole, transplanting a bush, or pruning the leaves, clogs and boots are for you. The hard part is deciding on whether to purchase clogs or boots.

Typically, garden clogs are better suited for those who will be working with primarily dry terrain. Muddy circumstances are better suited for garden boots because of their solid build and durability. Garden clogs are great for working in the garden in the summer and dry months. The clogs come in a variety of styles, including strapless, strapped, and ventilated. Strapless clogs are great for doing light gardening, but can easily come off during everyday gardening activities. Strapped clogs provide a moderate amount of stability while ensuring that your clogs will stay on – nothing is worse than losing a shoe when you’re planting trees. Ventilated garden clogs are ideal for those in warmer parts of the world. Using ventilated clogs in the winter wouldn’t be nice for your chilly feet. They provide reasonable support while ensuring your feet can breathe, which helps avoid sweaty feet.

If your idea of gardening involves being covered in mud, working in muddy waters, or other crazy rigorous activities, garden boots are for you. In general, boots offer several shields of protection, ensuring your feet will be protected when you use a jackhammer, run the backhoe, or operate a rototiller. Gardening boots are almost a no-brainer if you will be operating any type of machinery. Your feet are the most susceptible to injury. Garden boots are the best solution for people who have preexisting podiatry conditions or require a great deal of ankle support. Additionally, garden boots stand the test of time, assuming your feet don’t grow or shrink. A good pair of boots can last up to five years, whereas garden clogs can only withstand so many “incidents.”

In summation, garden clogs are ideal for light gardening activities where you do not use heavy equipment or machinery, are not working in muddy conditions, and require little to no foot/ankle support. Garden boots are the best solution for those who do much more than gardening and aren’t afraid to get dirty head to toe. True gardeners aren’t afraid to get down and dirty – with the vegetables and roses! 😉

Garden Clogs

Garden Clogs

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How Do I Start My Kids Gardening?

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Many parents want to find some really exciting kids gardening ideas so they can spark their child’s interest in nature, plants and outdoor activities. It seems as though it is more difficult to get children interested in anything that isn’t part of a video game or computer. Even so, if you are patient, creative and enthusiastic you can select a kid garden project that everyone will enjoy.

If you want to get the kids gardening ball rolling you might suggest the idea of planting a “theme garden”. This means that you would select a particular idea (or theme) and then make sure that the seeds and plants that you select are connected. For instance your kid garden theme could be any one of the following suggestions.

Green Garden-all veggies or flowers would have to include the color green. You could include green beans, broccoli, zucchini, or a variety of herbs in the rows of this kids gardening project.

Chocolate Garde-the plants in this garden must all have a “chocolate connection”. You could use “Chocolate” mint or any vegetable or flower that had a brown color, a chocolate smell, or the word “chocolate” included in their names.

Pizza Garden-(need I say more) this is a top kid garden selection. Your plant choices would be any veggies or herbs that would be used as toppings for a pizza. Basil, oregano, bell peppers, hot peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes would all be appropriate.

Giant Garden-you would need to search for seeds that produce super-sized fruit, vegetables and flowers if you select this type of theme. Your kids will be thrilled with the produce that you can harvest from one of these gardens. Yard Long Beans, 100 pound cabbages, Japanese Imperial Foot Long Carrots, 15 pound onions are all great selections that will result in veggies that would be right at home in the garden of the Jolly Green Giant. If you and your kids want to see a 2 foot wide sunflower you will need to purchase some Grey Stripe Giant Sunflower seeds.

Peter Rabbit’s Grocery Store– what child would not be delighted to help create a kid garden for one of their favorite story book characters? Of course it is not Peter Rabbit who will be getting to sample the produce from this garden, but don’t spoil your child’s fun by mentioning this fact.

Of course in this themed garden you would want to include a variety of lettuce plants, carrots, spinach, turnips and radishes. You may also add any veggie that your child might considers tempting to lure a curious bunny into their garden.

Once you have settled on a theme, and chosen the appropriate seeds and plants it will be time to get started with the real work. You may want to purchase some pint sized kids gardening tools for them to use.  If you have small toddlers you can find some kid garden tools made from heavy plastic, but older children are able to handle tools that are almost identical to those adults use (except for the scaled down size).

You need to keep your sense of humor intact because there are bound to be mistakes that are made along the way. Most of those kids gardening mistakes that occur will not be that important. There is certainly no need to become overly excited about most of them.

For instance your kid may plant the bean seeds right where the carrot seeds were recently sown. Not a deal breaker. Just plant another row of carrot seeds. The only cause for real alarm is if your eager little helper decided to plant the rings you had removed prior to embarking on your new kids gardening project.  Of course you need to retrieve your jewelry as quickly as possible. But when your little one tells you he just wanted to “grow a bunch” of diamond rings for Mommy you just can’t be upset then, can you? 😉

Kids Gardening

Kids Gardening

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Where Do I Look For Garden Seeds?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

There are many different places to find garden seeds, seed kits, and all the different accessories any gardener could want. There are many different websites that specialize in all different kinds of seed and seed products, to common vegetables, to exotic flowers and plants. It really depends on what your want to plant, where you are going to garden, and how much work you want to put into it.

Let’s say for instance you want to have a flower garden, but are not sure what kinds of flowers to put in. Garden seeds for flower beds come in all varieties, but again if you are not sure, there are seeds that are specifically for people who have a problem deciding on which plants they want. There are packs and tins with a variety of different flowering plants, and all you have to do is scatter them in the area you want them to grow. Many people use these, and as they grow, they simply mark the ones they like the best. When the flowers turn to seed, they simply harvest the ones they like, and save them for the next growing season.

Garden seeds also come in complete seed kits, and some even have their own pots. People who want to grow an herb garden for example, can find kits with a variety of common herbs, or even kits that have certain herbs they are looking for. These kits come complete with small growing pots, soil, and all you have to do is water the soil, put the pots in a good sunny area like a kitchen window sill, and watch them grow. You will probably have to purchase larger pots as they get bigger, but this is not hard, since the soil is usually some kind of peat moss, making replanting a breeze.

When looking for garden seeds, especially for any kind of vegetable garden, it is a good idea to really shop around. While you can find many offerings online, there are a few draw backs. One of them is that you may have to pay shipping costs, and the seeds can be more expensive than if you were to just go into one of your local outlets and pick them up there. However, buying online is a good idea if you are looking for more exotic seeds, like orchids, or even Bonsai plants. Be sure that if you are looking at online dealers for garden seeds, or even seed kits, that they are a reputable company that has been in business for many years.

Some garden seed websites not only have seeds and kits, but also a number of other things you may find useful as well. Some may have online courses to teach you gardening techniques and methods for getting the most out of your garden, and should also have climate charts that tell you which kinds of flowers and vegetables may grow best in your area. They can also help you decide which time of the year is best for planting, depending on your individual growing zone. If they don’t have this information, you can also visit your local nursery, or lawn and garden store for these charts as well. 😉

Garden Seeds

Garden Seeds

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How Do I Keep Deer Out Of My Garden?

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play. Remember that song from long age? It truly does set up the vision of tranquility on the home front. The reality is that deer and backyard gardens do not mix. The deer look at your freshly planted garden as their personal garden spot. On their way back from their drinking hole, they think nothing of having a little bedtime snack of tender, green deer plants. Going out in the morning to tend your garden is often a nightmare. Is there anything that an avid gardener can use as a deer repellent?

A recent conversation with a garden supply professional, brought to light some possible solutions to this frustrating problem. Animals learn through the repetition of their surroundings. For example, deer have learned which lawns actually put out deer plants to encourage the deer in the area to come into their yard. Yes there are those who like the aesthetic value of being able to sit on their back porch and watch the deer. The problem with this is that deer do not know the property lines between your yard and your neighbors. So they figure if there is suitable food in one yard why not check the next. Unfortunately these well meaning people could be your neighbors. Deer are very inactive animals. They often use the same tried and true trails that have brought them positive food searches over time.

Commercial deer repellent can be found in most garden centers. They are usually very expensive and take a lot of labor to apply them according to manufacturers instructions. A simple web search can bring you up to speed on which ones are the most effective for your area. Deer repellent come in sprays, powders and pouches. Depending on your particular garden size and whether or not you live in a place that is heavily populated with deer, you may need a specific type of deer repellent. Check with your local garden professional to get the most up to date information.

For those who prefer less potent methods to keep deer from destroying the garden, some of the following suggestions could prove to be a less toxic form of deer repellent. Supposedly, deer are very opposed to the smell of rotten eggs. I don’t know who came up with this statement but there must be some truth to it as one of the commercial products has an essence of commercially made rotten egg smell. Another less putrid suggestion was to shave Irish Spring soap and spread those shavings in the garden.

Other tried and true methods include keeping pet cats around the property. The theory around this idea is that cats will dig in the garden and spread the smell of their urine around. Speaking of urine, one of the popular deer repellents out there is coyote urine. This can be found in hunting supply stores.

Regardless of which method of deer repellent you choose to keep the deer out of your garden, the experts agree that the methods need to be changed from year to year. This will prevent the deer from taking notes and coming up with another strategy to gain access to those tender deer plants they think you planted for them. 😉

Deer Resistant Plants

Deer Resistant Plants

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Grow Lights For Gardening

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Grow lights are a great way to grow plants indoors, or as an addition to greenhouse growing. A plant light can be as small or as large as you want, depending on what you are using it for. There are spot growing lamps, compact fluorescent bulbs, and high output T5 fluorescent tubes, fixtures and even grow light stands, with several levels of plants, all in one convenient and easy to move stand. For greenhouses, it is a great way to add light during the winter months, or even on days when the sun is obscured by clouds.

There are different kinds of grow lights. The spot lamp plant light is ideal for lighting up single plants, like exotics that need more illumination, or for growing an herb garden in your window sill. Many have clamps that can attach to a wall or window sill and be pointed in the right direction. 60watt spot grow lights are ideal for small areas, but if you need to cover a larger area, then the 150watt bulbs provide much better coverage.

For more full spectrum applications, there are many specialized fluorescent lights and fixtures that are ideal for totally enclosed spaces, and are available in a multitude of lengths and strengths. Many of the fixtures come with shades that focus the light better. The bulbs for grow lights can range in price from just under twenty dollars, to well into the fifties or even hundreds of dollars, depending on the size and color spectrum they provide.

Now when using grow lights as a way to give plant light to your indoor garden, remember that even though they may be a full spectrum light, they aren’t the sun, and need to be left on for at least ten hours a day. In order to save time and hassle, many people use a timer to automatically regulate how much light their plants have. You can buy all of your grow light needs at most lawn and garden stores locally, but there are many websites, that specialize in indoor growing products and accessories. Many of these sites have free shipping, and this is a something to consider, because ordering any kind of grow light system is pretty heavy.

When finding good grow lights for your plants, it is important to shop around, so you can get the best prices. You should always try to go for the kind of lights that are the most energy efficient, so it doesn’t put a strain on your lighting bill. If you are just starting out, you should talk to one of the sales people at your local nursery, and let them know what you are going to use the grow lights for, so they can give you the best ideas.

Now there are many people who use grow lights for legitimate reasons, but some people are just plain dumb and may try to use plant light for illegal growing operations, like marijuana. Those of you that are using grow lights for illegal purposes be warned, there are many ways that the police can find out that you are growing pot, and if you think this article is going to show you how, think again. 😉

Table Top Grow Light

Table Top Grow Light

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