Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category

What Kind Of Gardening Gift Is A Worm Bin?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Almost anyone who has an organic garden will set up a worm bin sooner or later. A worm bin is simply a compost bin

How A Worm Bin Works

A worm bin or vermicompost pile as it is called works simply. Instead of just allowing the food from your kitchen to decay on its own, you put it in a bin where you have placed worms. The worms eat the vegetable and fruit matter and when they eliminate waste you have compost.

Building a worm bin is simple. You can use any material such as rubber, wood, plastic or galvanized tubs. Most serious worm compost users like wooden bins because wood breathes better and absorbs excess moisture.

How to Make a Worm Bin

Build a wooden box twice the size you want for composting and put a removable divider down the middle. Drill holes about 1/8 of an inch apart in the bottom four inches of the box to provide ventilation. Make two lids the right size for each half of the box from tops or other material that will help block out rain. This will keep excess moisture out.

Preparing the Bin

Now you need to prepare your bin the day before placing your worms inside. You do this by filling the bin with thin strips of shredded newspaper, straw or dry grass, and then putting a light covering of dirt on top of it. Water, the dirt lightly but thoroughly. Let it sit for 24 hours before adding your worms.

Ordering Your Worms

There are many places where you can order your worms from. The best worms to use are red wigglers or European Night crawlers. You will need 1 lb of worms for every square foot of surface area on your compost pile. Add the worms to your bin and then add some fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen.

Maintaining Your Worm Bin

In order to maintain your worm bin, simply add more fruit and vegetable scraps at least once a week and sprinkle with water every other day. Keep your worm bin covered unless it becomes overly damp.

When the worms begin making compost the height of your newspaper or dry scraps will lower when the bin looks to be about ½ full then add more newspapers or dry grass.

Harvesting Your compost

In order to harvest your compost you need to separate the compost that is not completely decomposed and the worms from the compost. To do this prepare the unused side of your bin as you did the first side. Remove the divider and then take the lid off the side with your compost and worms in it. Since worms like the dark, the worms will begin to move to the side of the compost bin that is dark, this takes about two or three weeks. Replace the divider and use the compost.

Since your worms will be reproducing, grab a handful and take the afternoon off to fish. Who knows not only can these worms help you grow prize winning vegetables, but they may help you catch that prize winning fish you have been after as well. 😉

Gardening Gift Worm Bin

Gardening Gift Worm Bin

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All About the Christmas Poinsettia

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

There is just something about the poinsettia that makes you think Christmas.  With its vibrant reds and lush greens, there is no questions as to its beauty.  It also makes an outstanding gardening gift.  While they are the most popular of Christmas greenery, making up 85% of holiday potted plant sales, most people know surprisingly little about the poinsettia.  Let’s take a look at some of the common misconceptions and set the record straight.

Myth:  Poinsettias are native to the United States

Fact:   Native to Mexico  poinsettias were used by the Aztecs to make a dye from the bracts (the red part) that was a reddish purple color.   They were introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett.  Commercially, poinsettias are grown in every state in the union with California leading the pack as the top producer (California ranch, The Paul Ecke Ranch, is credited with growing more than 80 percent of the U.S. poinsettias to supply to the wholesale market.  This is also where about 90% of all flowering poinsettias worldwide originate.).  In fact, 90% of all poinsettias sold nowadays are exported from the United States.

Myth:  The colored part of the poinsettia is a flower.

Fact:   The colored part of the plant is actually not a flower, but leaves that have been modified.  These leaves are also  known as bracts.  The flower part of the poinsettia is actually located in the center of the bracts.  Very little, if any, pollen is visible on the flowers.  Once the poinsettia has shed its pollen, it will also soon shed its colorful bracts.

Myth:  All poinsettias are expensive.

Fact:   While some poinsettias can get pricey, they are actually priced by how many blooms each plant has.  The more expensive plants have more blooms.  This makes the poinsettia a versatile gardening gift.

Myth:  Poinsettias are Poisonous.

Fact:   Ohio State University conducted a study to determine the toxicity of the poinsettia.  The conclusion was that if a child weighing 50 pounds were to eat 500 bracts, they may get a slight stomach ache.  However, the poinsettia sap can be irritating to some people who have a sensitivity to it.  It can also cause an upset stomach if too much is consumed.

Myth:  There is only one type of poinsettia.

Fact:   There are more than one hundred different varieties of poinsettias from which you can choose.  They also come in different colors, red which is the most popular, white which comes in at second place and pink which comes in last.

Myth:  All poinsettias are small plants.

Fact:   When found in nature, poinsettias grow as shrubs that can get as tall as ten feet in height.  However, they are a perennial which makes them a great gardening gift that keeps on giving.

You can’t go wrong if you give these lovely gardening gifts to your favorite green thumb.  They are pretty hardy and are highly adaptable to many different climates.  Because they can be grown anywhere in the United States, you don’t have to worry about the region of your gift recipient.  You can give this beautiful gift of holiday cheer and know that every time they look at their poinsettia they will think of you. 😉

Christmas Poinsettia

Christmas Poinsettia

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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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Are Plants Still Good Gardening Gifts?

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Gifts are not only guaranteed to surprise, but they are bound to make your loved one feel even more special than they already are.  Gardening gifts are always in season and with more and more people “going green”, that makes giving plants a great gift.  It has been shown that many  customers prefer their living plants over cut flowers because they last much longer.  If you are looking for unique gardening gifts that will keep on growing and giving for many years – look no further.

Plants are fantastic gardening gifts for any person who is a nature lover. Plant gifts can be of various types, which include bonsais, anthuriums, orchids, chrysanthemums, bromeliad, etc. Gardenia bonsai are an example for indoors plants. They can also be kept places where it obtains filtered sunlight.  Other gardening gifts include clay or ceramic pots with saucers to put them on, so as not to spill any water.  The gifting of plants is quite common in the professional world as well.  For instance, if you were a real estate agent, sending plants as gardening gifts to your client says thanks – and helps them remember you.

When choosing plants for gardening gifts, it is important to keep in mind a few things. This will ensure that you make the perfect choice for home or office.  First, find a plant that is easy to care for. Houseplants are wonderful gardening gifts, but if they require dedicated maintenance, there is every chance that the gift will not be as appreciated as you intended.  Next, try to see how the recipient might use the plant.  Is it to brighten up a room?  Will it stand out by itself as a symbol of importance? Does it hang in the bathroom?  I think you get the idea.  Purchasing plants with the ability to brighten a room or highlight specific features will ensure that your gardening gifts will be appreciated for years to come.

Smaller trays for the windowsill or porch are quite popular gardening gifts and attractive too.  If you’re purchasing for someone who doesn’t quite have the “green thumb” yet, you may consider bamboo as caring for the plant is very easy.  One word about cats: many common and beautiful plants are deadly to them.  Before you bring home a floral arrangement, plant a border of day lilies, or send gardening gifts off to your friends, make sure you know what to avoid.  Lilies, including Easter lilies, tiger lilies, stargazer, rub-rum or Japanese showy lilies and day lilies – are particularly toxic to cats.  Let’s keep our pets healthy.

For the gardener who seems to have everything, gift certificates for compost or quarter-10 gravel (for improving drainage and for mulching) will be much appreciated.  You can even make your own coupon to be used for a day of work in the garden, a day of garden tours (you pay the admission and gas) and lunch.  If you have a truck, you could offer a trip to the dumps.  But, far and away, the easiest gardening gifts are certificates to a nursery. You could enclose it with a card and attach it to a plant catalog as well.  😉

Gardening Gifts

Gardening Gifts

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