03 May

Best Specimen Plants to Grow in Your Garden

Specimen plants are usually grown in gardens and landscapes to create focal points. These plants are often characterized by unusual form, bold colors, attractive flowers, or lovely foliage. Best specimen plants have year-round foliage, compact growth and low maintenance needs. When grown indoor, small specimen plants can be used to brighten up small spaces by creating focal points or create dramatic effects by placing these plants at strategic spots. When grown outdoors, large specimen plants can be used to fill spaces or create permanent displays.

Some of the best specimen plants that are always at the top of my list include:

Colocasia esculenta – A nice specimen plant grown for its large, attractive foliage.

Taro, Best Specimen Plants

Pennisetum setaceum – Commonly known as ‘purple fountain grass’ is a beautiful specimen plant for growing outdoors.

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum'

Pennisetum Setaceum ‘Rubrum’, Image by Matt Lavin

Miscanthus sinensis is a bold, upright and attractive grass.

Miscanthus Sinensis Grass

Miscanthus Sinensis, Image via Wikipedia

Acer palmatum or ‘Japanese Maple’ is a small tree with interesting and colorful foliage.

 

Dioscorea elephantipes is a beautiful specimen plan known for its unusual form.

Best Specimen Plant - Dioscorea elephantipes

Pachypodium lamerei or the ‘Madagascar Palm’ is another beautiful specimen plant for growing outdoors.

unusual plant pachypodium lamerei

 

27 Apr

Top Tips for Keeping Your Indoor Plants Healthy

Keeping your indoor plants healthy and fresh all through the year is not difficult at all. Whether you are growing an exotic orchid, a tropical foliage plant, a miniature succulent or large specimen plant, general rules for keeping your indoor plants healthy and fresh are simple and universal.

Keeping Your Indoor Plants Healthy

Select the Right Spot

Provide your indoor plants with the right spot. Not at all plants have same requirements. Some like prolonged exposure to the sun, some like indirect light. Some indoor plants can thrive in low lights whereas some benefit seasonal outdoor exposure. Make sure that you understand light, moisture and temperature needs of your plants and then provide them with the right indoor spot. Do not change location of indoor plants frequently. Plants that are moved frequently spend most of their energy adjusting to their new spot.

Protect Indoor Plants from Direct Exposures

Most indoor plants do not like direct exposure to harsh sunlight in the summer season. Do not put them on windowsill or near a window with direct sunlight during most part of the day. Avoid placing your indoor plants near radiators, heaters or air conditioners. Extreme and frequent change in environment is not good for indoor plants.

Monitor Temperature and Moisture Level

Use a temperature and moisture gauge to keep a check on indoor temperature and moisture level especially when you are using humidifiers, heaters or dehumidifiers.

STARRICH Portable Mini LCD Digital Thermometer Hygrometer Air Temperature and Humidity Meter Moisture Mete for Household

You can buy a quality device like STARRICH Thermometer, Air Temperature and Humidity meter to keep a check on indoor climate. Most indoor plants do not prefer extremely dry or moist conditions. If you are growing plants that prefer moisture, you can group them together to raise moisture level around them. It is a good practice to group plants with similar moisture and temperature requirements.

Provide Your Indoor Plants with the Right Pot

Repot your indoor plants into larger pots every two year or so. This will ensure that plants get enough room to grow their roots.

Water Your Indoor Plants Carefully

Indoor plants usually require less watering. A good practice is to allow the soil to dry completely before each watering. Water generously before next watering. Make sure that your pots have sufficient drainage at the bottom. This will prevent the soil from bogging and keep the roots properly aerated.

Act in Time

Keep a close eye on your plants and do not procrastinate if you notice something unusual such as pests, falling buds, or withering leaves. Be proactive and solve the problem as early as possible. If a plant infested with pests, immediately separate the affected plants. Natural and organic pesticides are better than chemicals and are safe for children and pets. Some organic insect killers such as EcoSmart Botanical Insect Killer can be purchased online.

 EcoSmart Botanical Insect Killer

Allow Your Indoor Plants to Rest

Allow your indoor plants to rest during the dormant months of winter. During this time, reduce watering and move your indoor plants to a little cooler place. Do not fertilize or repot them during dormant months.

17 Apr

How often do I need a pest inspection?

If you see pests in your lawn or on the plants in your garden, start inspecting your home for pest infestation. Similarly, if your home is infested with pests, they will likely creep into your garden and on to your plants. There are so many ways your home or garden can get infested with pests – soil, small animals, transferring indoor plants from outside etc. However with proper pest inspection, it is easy to protect your house from pest infestation.

Home Pest Inspection

There are many contributing factors that determine how long you can responsibly wait between inspecting your home for pests. As a general rule of thumb, you should always consider the effort involved in performing regular pest inspections versus the effort required to eradicate a large infestation. It will always be quicker and more cost efficient to exterminate a small number of pests in the early stages of an infestation. There are many precautions you can take to ensure your home will not see a full blown infestation. To maintain a pest free home you must know the major contributing factors for an infestation, which include: the environment in which you live, the abundance of wildlife in the community, and a history of repeated infestations. Learn more here about your free home inspection.

The environment in which you live can play a huge role in how often your home is ransacked by small pests. In colder environments, many pests will come into your home searching for warmth and a dry shelter. This is a natural behavior for the animals to survive the conditions. However, these are not harmless animals. Many rodents coming into your home carry dangerous diseases that can be transmitted to humans and our pets. If you live near a heavily wooded park or forest, you may need to check your home more often for rodents. If you live in an environment that is cold or near a lush greenbelt, you should perform a regular inspection of your home at least once every other month.

The single greatest factor for infestations is the abundance of pests in the area. As stated above, if you live near a greenbelt, you will most likely see more small rodents than other communities. This is because many rodents can live in the foliage with minimal predators and reproduce very quickly.  Similarly, there are pests that thrive in desert communities, such as: termites, scorpions, bees, spiders, and cockroaches. Cockroaches can be especially abundant in warm climates because they can reproduce at a very quick rate. A cockroach will lay up to 50 eggs in their ootheca, or better known as their egg sac. If you live in a community with a high abundance of pests, you should perform an inspection of your home once a month so you can quickly take care of any problem that arises.

If your home has a history of being infested with pests, there may be small spaces on your home you need to board up. A mouse can enter your home from a hole the size of a nickel, so this should be your benchmark for determining if a hole needs to be filled. Many rodents enter your home from appliances with hoses that lead to the outside of your home. You should fill all the gaps in these holes with caulking, and install metal mesh coverings to cover all vents. If your home has a history of pest infestation, then you should regularly check your home every month just to be safe.

12 Apr

9 Examples of a Beautiful Sunroom Garden

A sunroom also known as a solarium is an extension of a house that provides protection from weather yet allows good exposure to the sun and the landscape outside. Mostly popular in colder climates, a sunroom serves multiple purposes:

  • As a warm place on sunny days, you can use your sunroom as a patio for enjoying breakfasts
  • During freezing months in winter, you can bring plants from your garden inside the sunroom and protect them from frost and freezing
  • You can also use a sunroom to grow plants that cannot be grown outside in the garden during the winter season
Sunroom or Solarium Garden

 

With introduction of many durable, cheaper and better materials, it is not expensive to build a solarium or sunroom. Modern materials are cheaper as compared to traditional sunrooms made of glass and aluminum. Sunrooms made with modern materials and techniques also address issues of leakage and climate control. You can easily provide ventilation, control moisture level, and temperature and maintain an ideal climate for growing almost all types of indoor and outdoor plants traditionally grown outside in the garden.

Useful Link: How to Build a Successful Sunroom by Steve Maxwell

Examples of Beautiful and Practical Sunroom Gardens

This design by Dominick Tringali Architects that shows how practical a beautiful a sunroom garden can be. 
A solarium can be a tropical garden too. Photo by CKA PARIS 
Sunroom can be used to grow almost any type of plant in colder climates – Photo by Reliance Design Build
You can even make a zen garden in your solarium – Photo by Flavin Architects
A solarium can be as useful as a living room – Photo by Conservatory Craftsmen
Call it a patio, a living room or an indoor garden – Photo by B. Jane Gardens 
Grow your favorite plants all year round in a solarium garden – Photo by Jonathan Miller Architecture & Design
A lovely solarium garden. Photo by Elsie Interiors 
A solarium can be built to practically utilize unused outdoor space – Photo by Tych & Walker Architects
10 Dec

3 Reasons to Visit a Farm Shop During Christmastime

Most people associate fruits and vegetables with the sunny days of spring, summer, and fall. However, local farm shops are bustling during the winter as well, with a variety of fresh crops and products suited to make your home more hospitable over the holiday season. The aromas and flavours of Christmas are upon us, with the scent of pine and pumpkin permeating the air of many homes. Shopping local not only gives you access to the freshest and healthiest produce, it also helps support local farmers and families who participate in the cultivation and harvesting of those crops. Here are three reasons why Christmastime is one of the best times of year to visit a local farm shop:

1. Fresh Winter Crops Abound

Never underestimate the sheer deliciousness of commonly overlooked winter crops like kale, chard, leeks, savoy cabbage, spinach, Brussel sprouts, artichokes, sprouting broccoli, and cauliflower. In fact, many of these crops are at their finest during the winter because the cold temperatures have a ripening effect on most plants. Plus, wintertime crops are often sweeter and more colourful than their summertime counterparts. Of course, the cold weather also has a way of preserving flavours and freshness via natural refrigeration, so you stand to find some of the crispiest and juiciest greens during the late and early months of the year.

Farm Shop

2. Christmas Trees and Wreaths

From later November onwards you can typically find a variety of Christmas trees and wreaths at your local farm shop, garden centre, or nursery. There’s nothing like the smell of a freshly cut tree to bring the authentic smell of the holiday season alive in your home. Carpenters Nursery carries a range of firs and spruces that exhibit a variety of aromas, statures, and growing characteristics. If you prefer to bring the tree inside in early December you’d be wise to choose a Nordmann Fir, whereas the Norway Spruce is better left outside until December 15th due to its tendency to shed needles in warm temperatures.

3. Recipe Ideas, Desserts, Breads, Essential Oils, Candles, and Other Natural Products

Visiting a farm shop during Christmastime is sure to inspire you to bring your culinary creations to the next level. Oftentimes you’ll find artisan, locally crafted products that you can’t get anywhere else. These items are not only healthier for you as an individual, they also help promote the local economy and build a stronger, more self-sufficient society. Instead of spending your money with the larger brands and getting an inferior dining or home décor experience, why not help the citizens of your region by opting for higher quality products that will benefit the community as a whole.

A Unique and Friendly Shopping Experience

All other perks aside, the staff at a local farm shop is likely to greet you with a warmer welcome than the average clerk at a national grocery chain store. Christmas is a festive time of year so it would make more sense to put yourself in places where your business and presence is appreciated.

07 Oct

Weekly Magazine: Garden Dispatch # 10

Welcome to the latest issue of Garden Dispatch. The Garden Dispatch is a weekly compilation of landscape and garden design resources. In this issue, explore:

How to Grow Figs in Your Home Garden

Besides its delicious and nutritious fruit,  I like the Fig tree for its unusual and attractive foliage. The large green leaves of the fig tree make it a nice accent plant for gardens.  The tree does not require much maintenance except annual pruning to keep it in shape and size. For tips on growing your own fig tree, follow this complete guide on growing figs by Debbie Wolfe.
Figs

Plant of the Week: Senecio rowleyanus

Senecio rowleyanus (Buy online) is a beautiful trailing succulent that can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Commonly known as String of Pearls, this lovely  succulent grows fast and can be multiplied easily from cuttings. When provided with moderate watering and a sunny spot, Senecio rowleyanus flourishes very well in an ordinary cactus mix. See these useful tips on growing Senecio rowleyanus by Nell Foster.

Senecio rowleyanus

Image via flickr by Clatiek

Halloween Inspired Garden Designs

It’s time of the year… and there are so many inspiring examples of Halloween inspired garden designs to follow.

Halloween garden

 

04 Sep

Best Flowering Shrub to Grow in Your Garden

Flowering shrubs make excellent ornaments in a garden or landscape design. They come in all sizes and shapes and offer a wide variety of foliage, flowers, colors, texture and structure. Besides their ornamental value, flowering shrubs are utility plants that can be used to make hedges, privacy screens, wind breakers, and interesting espalier or topiary designs.

Most flowering shrubs require little maintenance and make excellent choice for designing low-maintenance landscapes.

Following is a list of best flowering shrubs you can grow in your garden or landscape.

Best Evergreen Flowering Shrub

Tibouchina urvilleana

Tibouchina is a genus of excellent bloomers from tropical and sub-tropical climates, majorly from Brazil and Mexico. Most species are evergreen and produce attractive flowers of pink and purple colors. Tibouchina urvilleana is a nice evergreen flowering shrub that can grow up to 10 feet in its native climate. It is known for its silvery-green foliage and beautiful purple flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Purple (summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 12 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Neutral to Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11
  • Special Care: Protect from frost and extreme cold
  • Other Names: Princess Flower, Glory Flower

Tibouchina urvilleana makes an excellent evergreen flowering shrub. It does not require much maintenance and blooms profusely in mid-summer. If you are looking for other options, I would recommend the following evergreen flowering shrubs:

Polygala myrtifolia 

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Purple (all year)
  • Water: Drought tolerant; water when the soil is dry
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 6 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Neutral
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11
  • Special Care: Do not over water
  • Other Names: September Bush

Loropetalum chinense (Buy online)

  • Foliage: Evergreen; Colorful in winter
  • Flowers: Pink (early spring)
  • Water: Regular
  • Light: Full to partial sun; also grows in shaded spots
  • Size: Up to 6 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 7 to 10
  • Special Care: Do not over water
  • Other Names: Chinese fringe-flower

Streptosolen jamesonii (Buy online)

  • Foliage: Evergreen; Colorful in winter
  • Flowers: Orange (spring/summer)
  • Water: Regular
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 6 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Neutral
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11
  • Special Care: Do not over water
  • Other Names: Marmalade Bush

Best Flowering Shrub for Colorful Foliage

Breynia disticha (Buy online)

Breynia disticha is a nice flowering shrub better known for its colorful foliage. Originally from the tropical climates, Breynia disticha can be grown in colder climates when protected from frost and freeze. This attractive flowering shrub is characterized by wavy, red stem and variegated foliage of white and pink hues. Breynia disticha makes an excellent plant for containers, garden borders as well as a ground cover in landscape designs.

Best flowering shrub for colorful foliage: Breynia disticha

Breynia disticha/ Image by Forest & Kim Starr

  • Foliage: Evergreen colorful foliage
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 6 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly alkaline
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11
  • Special Care: Protect from frost and extreme cold
  • Other Names: Snow Bush

Other flowering shrubs for colorful foliage include:

Coprosma repens

Coprosma 'Tequila Sunburst'

Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunburst’/ Image by Leonora Enking

  • Foliage: Evergreen colorful foliage
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 5 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 10b
  • Special Care: Protect from frost and extreme cold
  • Other Names: Mirror Bush

Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’

Aucuba Japonica, The Gold Dust Plant

Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’, Image by Kaustav Bhattacharya

  • Foliage: Evergreen colorful foliage
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous late winter flowers
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 10 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 6a to 10b
  • Special Care: Protect from frost and extreme cold
  • Other Names: Gold Dust

Iresine herbstii

Iresine Herbstii, The Bloodleaf Plant

Iresine Herbstii, The Bloodleaf Plant, Image by Leonora Enking (flickr)

  • Foliage: Evergreen colorful foliage
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 6 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly alkaline
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11
  • Special Care: Protect from frost and extreme cold
  • Other Names: Snow Bush

Euonymus japonica

Euonymus Japonica, Evergreen Shrub

Euonymus Japonica, Spindle Tree, Image by John (Puzzler4879@flickr)

  • Foliage: Evergreen colorful foliage
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 6 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly alkaline
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11
  • Special Care: Protect from frost and extreme cold
  • Other Names: Snow Bush

Dodonaea Viscosa ‘Purpurea’

Dodonaea Viscosa Purpurea

Dodonaea Viscosa ‘Purpurea’, Image by Suzette Hosken

  • Foliage: Evergreen colorful foliage
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 6 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly alkaline
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11
  • Special Care: Protect from frost and extreme cold
  • Other Names: Snow Bush

Best Low-maintenance Flowering Shrub

Bougainvillea

Bougainville is a widely grown flowering shrub in many parts of the world. It is known for its attractive and colorful bracts. It is a hardy shrub that survives a range of climatic conditions and growing environment. A large number of varieties of Bougainville are commercially offered and are liked because of their colorful bracts and variegated foliage. Most varieties originate from four major species. Bougainville spectabilis (purple or rose-purple bracts), Bougainville glabra (magenta bracts and oblong, bright green leaves), Bougainville peruviana (smaller, mauve-pink bracts, yellowish flowers and large, smooth leaves), and Bougainville formosa (large clusters of pale magenta-pink flowers, usually bears variegated leaves).

Best low maintenance flowering shrub, Bougainvillea

Image by Tushar Pokle

  • Foliage: Evergreen colorful foliage
  • Flowers: Bracts of Red, Orange, Purple, Pink, Magenta, Apricot (Spring/ Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 6 feet
  • Propagation: Hardwood cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Other low-maintenance flowering shrubs you should consider include:

Weigela florida

Weigela florida

Weigela florida

  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Flowers:  Pink, Mauve (Spring / Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Size: Up to 12 feet
  • Propagation: Hardwood cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 5a to 8b

Pimelea ferruginea

Pimelea Ferruginea, Flowering Shrub

Pimelea Ferruginea, Image by Barry Michael

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: White (Spring / Early Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Partial Sun
  • Size: Up to 15 cm
  • Propagation: Hardwood cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Tecoma capensis

Tecomaria capensis

Tecomaria capensis/ Image by James Gaither

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Red, Orange (Late Summer / Early Fall)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial Sun
  • Size: Up to 8 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings, Layering
  • Soil pH: Neutral
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Lagerstroemia indica

Lagerstroemia Speciosa

  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Flowers: Pink, Magenta, Purple (Spring/ Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial Sun
  • Size: Up to 12 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Neutral
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Best Shrubs for Attractive Flowers

Chaenomeles speciosa

Chaenomeles speciosa

Chaenomeles speciosa/ Image by Etringita (flickr)

  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Flowers: Pink, Red, White (Winter/ Early Spring)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial Sun
  • Size: Up to 10 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings, layering
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 5a to 8b

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis/ Image via flickr by Dinesh Valke

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: White (Summer / Fragrant flowers)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full to partial Sun
  • Size: Up to 12 feet
  • Propagation: Cuttings
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Melaleuca

Melaleuca

Melaleuca tree/ Image by Tatiana Gerus

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Cream (Fragrant flowers)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Size: Up to 40 feet
  • Propagation: Seeds
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Holmskioldia sanguinea

Holmskioldia sanguinea

Holmskioldia sanguinea, Image by Douglas Sprott

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Red, orange, yellow (Spring/ Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full Sun to partial Sun
  • Size: Up to 10 feet
  • Propagation: Cutting, layering
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Best Flowering Shrub for Unusual Flowers

Clianthus puniceus

Clianthus puniceus

Clianthus puniceus/ Image by Tony Rodd

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Red, pink (Spring/ Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full Sun to partial Sun
  • Size: Up to 10 feet
  • Propagation: Cutting, seeds
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Leonotis leonurus

Leonotis leonurus

Leonotis leonurus, the Lion’s tail/ Image by Andy Carvin

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Red, pink (Spring/ Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full Sun to partial Sun
  • Size: Up to 10 feet
  • Propagation: Cutting, seeds
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 9a to 11

Crotalaria agatiflora

Crotalaria agatiflora

Crotalaria agatiflora/ Bird Bush/ Image by Erick Lux

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Yellow (Spring/ Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Size: Up to 4 feet
  • Propagation: Seeds
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 8a to 11

Justicia brandegeana

Justicia brandegeana, The Shrimp Plant

Justicia brandegeana, The Shrimp Plant

  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Flowers: Pink(Spring/ Summer)
  • Water: Regular; do not over water
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Size: Up to 5 feet
  • Propagation: Cutting
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic
  • USDA Zone: 8a to 11
03 Jul

Growing Herbs and Vegetables in Containers

Every day I hear something from the news or on social media talking about the benefits of fresh herbs and vegetables – even if it’s just that using them makes food taste better. But what if you don’t have the space for a big garden, or a convenient farmer’s market? Container gardens are becoming more and more popular, allowing you to grow fresh herbs and veggies on your porch or deck, so that the freshest produce is right outside your door!

Benefits of Container Gardening

The benefits of container gardening are many and varied, including convenience, soil to kitchen control over the produce you serve your family, enhancing your outdoor space and the cost-effectiveness of growing your own produce compared with buying it at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. In addition, growing your garden in containers allows you the ultimate flexibility in positioning for the best sunlight for any given time of year and creates an environment where any potential problems, like fungi and other plant diseases will not spread to the rest of your garden.

Aloe Test Garden

Challenges of Container Gardening

Container gardens can be a bit of a challenge because they rely on the gardener for all nutrients – meaning you’re responsible for making sure each container is getting the proper amount of nutrients, water and sunlight that the plant inside it requires, which can vary significantly. You may need to water certain plants twice a day in the hotter summer months, but that much water could kill the plant in a different container. But as long as you understand the differences in what the plants in your garden need, this is a challenge easily overcome. There are several great resources that can tell you about the care your specific herbs and vegetables will need. My favorites are the Garden Guides and AZ Master Gardener Manual pages.

Do Your Research

Since there are some significant differences in how you care for in-ground plants compared to container plants, it’s important to do your research when looking to grow any particular vegetable or herb in a container. For example, one of the most significant differences is root temperature – in-ground roots will never warm up as much as roots in containers can, so to grow plants that need cooler roots you may need to use a larger, light-colored container to minimize the effect of the sun. Mother Earth News has a great article for the beginner container gardener, including container-friendly plants and information on everything from the best buckets, soil and fertilizer to use to using your containers as design elements on your deck.

For added benefit from your container garden, choose acceptable pots and decorate them to fit your personal style, or keep track of your potted garden with this great idea from Martha Stewart.

17 Jun

Top Tips on Growing Tomatoes in Your Garden

Growing your own vegetables and fruits is an exciting experience and it is not difficult to grow them in your own backyard or kitchen garden. Today, we are sharing expert tips from the folks at Carpenter’s Nursery on growing tomatoes in your own garden.

Growing Tomatoes at Home

First Crop / Image via Flickr

Growing Tomatoes

Tomatoes can be grown effectively in grow bags, hanging baskets (variety – Tumbler), pots, greenhouses or the ground. Despite being subtropical plants they are surprisingly resilient and versatile. For best results though the greenhouse provides the best crop – but if you don’t have one don’t let that discourage you.

If growing from seed, sow in early Spring indoors in seed trays. Seed sowing compost is the ideal germination nutrient. Once the seeds reach an inch in height transplant them into individual pots. Once they reach 6-8 inches transplant them into larger pots, grow bags or tubs etc.

Fertilizing Your Tomatoes

For best results add some long lasting feed or organic fertiliser to a good compost. You can buy it or use your compost heap – dark rich compost will give you the very best results. If you start with nice healthy plants and great compost you are 95% of the way there to getting the perfect results and a huge crop.

Once you have planted the tomatoes water only sparingly initially – then as the flowers come up you can water more. This will mean your tomato plants have a stronger root system.

Taking Care of Your Tomatoes

Tomatoes like warm and moist conditions and you should not let them outside until the weather has significantly warmed and the nights a frost-free unless you are putting them into a greenhouse. At night you can wrap tomato plants in fleece if they are staying outside or just bring them in each night until the weather warms.

Once established tomatoes are fairly easy to maintain. They require regular water (in evenings to avoid evaporation) and should be checked regularly for pests and diseases. Feed every one to two weeks once the plants are producing fruit. The most important issue to look for is Blight – which appears as a brown black fungus that quickly destroys plants. The only real way to protect from this is to grow in a greenhouse or buy disease resistant variety. Other common issues are viruses which will destroy leafs and eventually plants. If your tomatoes start to mottle or leafs die trip them off carefully.

Best Growing Tomato Plants

Carpenter’s Nursery recommends these varieties:

Sungold (Buy seeds online– A popular sweet tomato variety bursting with flavors. Yellow and orange and easy to grow.

Gardener’s Delight (Buy seeds online) – Large cherry tomatoes full of juice and incredibly succulent.

Alicante (Buy seeds online) – A classic variety of tomato and ever popular this is an English classic and always produces exceptional crop yields.

Shirley F1 (Buy seeds online) – Remains one of the most popular varieties for cultivating in cold or slightly heated greenhouses. This early maturing tomato has become an exhibitor’s favorite for its heavy crops of excellent quality fruit.

16 Jun

Weekly Magazine: Garden Dispatch # 9

Welcome to the latest issue of Garden Dispatch.

The Garden Dispatch is a weekly compilation of landscape and garden design resources. In this issue, explore:

5 Tips: How to Make Most of Small Garden Spaces

Small Space Garden Design Tips

Growing all of your favorite plants in a small space is challenging but with a little planning and creativity, you can turn your small space garden into a dream garden. Brook Klausing shares his five tips for making most of small spaces.

  1. Pick the spot with the best view, where you’d want to sit, and build your garden retreat from there.
  2. Wall off the outside world with vine-covered trellises or thin, sculpted trees such as hornbeams.
  3. Use a fountain or firebowl to create a focal point—and offer distraction.
  4. Plant scented flowers or herbs such as lavender or thyme for added distraction.
  5. Keep furniture to a minimum—try a picnic benches, for example, instead of multiple chairs.

Also See: 9 Examples of Beautiful, Small Space Gardens

Plant of the Week: Stipa ichru

Stipa ichru

I am a big fan of ornamental grasses. They are versatile and come in all sizes, colors and textures. Most ornamental grasses are hardy and can grow under tough conditions. You can also put them to many uses. They are good ground covers, they can fill empty landscape spaces, some of them make nice accent plants, and some can be mixed with other plants to add a unique texture and color. The ornamental grass featured today is Stipa ichur. See details here.

Also See: 9 Ornamental Grasses for Your Garden Landscape Design

How To: Get High Yield from Your Kitchen Garden

High Yield Vegetable Garden

If you grow your own vegetables, this is a must read. Stephanie Rose shares her secret of getting high yield from a small vegetable garden. See details here.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas: Gifts for Green Thumb Dads

Father's Day Gift Idea

It is time of the year. If your dad is into gardening, here is a nice selection of plants you can buy him on this Father’s Day.

Home & Garden Decor: How to Decorate Your Home with Container Gardens

Decorating with Container Garden

Another great article by Stephanie Rose on decorating your home with container garden. You will love these wonderful ideas.

Garden Visits: Highlights from Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Chelsea Flower Show 2016

One of my favorite garden shows. If you have not been there, here are highlights from this year’s show.