Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Spaghetti Garden

One of the delightful pleasures of life are herbs. Besides adding beauty to your garden they make foods taste better and provide a pleasant scent to the air we breathe. In George Washington days everyone had a herb garden that they used for culinary, teas and medicinal purposes. That practice is slowly coming back.

A spaghetti garden is one of the most popular kitchen gardens. Anyone that has a sunny patch of ground or a window-box can grow these herbs of parsley, garlic, basil, bay laurel and oregano. A small garden space can easily yield all the herbs that you’ll need for delicious Italian meals. They are even easy to grow in a sunny window for your year-round use.

Let us take a closer look at the spaghetti garden herbs:

+Oregano is a perennial ground cover plant. Oregano is a prolific grower that can send out shoots that grow to six feet in a single season. If pruned and bunched, oregano can grow into a small border plant. It would rather have light, thin soil and lots of sun, so keep it on the south side of your garden. When the plants reach 4-5 inches harvesting can start. Pinch off the top 1/3 of the plant, just above a leaf intersection. The young leaves are actually stronger dried than fresh and are the most flavorful part of the plant. To dry, lay the leaves on newspaper or a drying screen in the sun until the leaves crumble easily. It will retain its flavor for months.

+Bay leaves add a favorable hint of spice to stews, soups and spaghetti sauce. The bay laurel is a small tree that grows about a foot per year, this makes it suitable for growing in a container. If you live in a mild climate zone leave the container outside, but if temperatures go below 25 degrees keep the tree in a pot and bring it indoors during the winter.

+Basil seeds itself so easily that you may never have to purchase another plant after the first year. There are many different kinds of basil, but all grow rapidly and require frequent pinching back to prevent them from growing tall and leggy. When the plants have reached about 6-8 inches tall, you can begin harvesting. Pinch off the top 1/3 of the plant, just above a leaf intersection. Pinch off any flower buds before they go to seed. Six to eight plants will provide enough basil for the entire neighborhood.

+Garlic is probably the easiest plant to grow. Break apart a clove of garlic, and plant the cloves about four inches apart, two to four inches deep in a light soil. Lightly water and watch them grow. You may harvest when tips of the leaves turn brown but do not let them flower. Just dig up the bulbs, and use them. To keep a fresh supply take one or two cloves from each bulb and replant them.

+Parsley is probably the most used herb in the world. You will find both flat (Italian) and curly types. They complement the flavor of everything from sauces to hearty stews. It is used as a garnish on plates, or cut up and added to soups, dressings and salads. Parsley adds vitamins and color, and quietly brings
out the flavor of other ingredients in the dish. Parsley is a biennial, flowering in its second season. It prefers a little shade on a hot sunny day, and should be kept watered to avoid wilting and drying. Pinch back older stems to the base, allowing new leaves and branches to grow.

Grow your own tomatoes and you are well on your way to becoming a Italian chef

How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Creating a Mood With Scents

Have you ever noticed how the warm scent of a candle wafting through the air can be uplifting, energizing, or make you cozy? Or maybe there's a certain body spray, soap, or perfume that just keeps you going through the day. Did you wonder why maybe that Key Lime candle smeeled yummy but also energized you or even motivated you to clean? Or why that Apple Pie scent really helped you appreciate fall? Wonder no longer, study after study has shown that scents do affect your mood! Take a look below of some scents that can really enhance your moods:

1. Citrus Scent - Energy
Need a pick-me-up? Grab a cup of java and light a citrus candle, citrus scents enhance energy and boost mood; so look for candles with lemon, lime, grapefruit, verbena, or orange scents.

2. Lavender Scent - Relaxation
When it's time to wind down try burning a lavender candle. In studies, lavender has been found to correlate with slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and lower arterial pressure. It has also been found to decrease muscle tension. Other scents that have been found to have relaxing effects are bergamot and sandalwood.

3. Citris, Minty, and Pine Scents - Uplifting, Clean
If you want to create a cheerful, clean environment in your home, choose candles scented with citrus, mint, or pine. Often these scents can be not only uplifting and motivating, but just give that "clean" feel. When you or your guests walk in, these scents will be a fresh breeze to welcome anyone.

4. Lavender, Vanilla, Pumpkin Pie, Jasmine, Gardenia, Sandalwood, and Rose Scents
- Romantic
Studies indicate that lavender, vanilla, and pumpkin pie scents are the most desire enhancing. Many also believe there's romance in the air if you're burning scents such as floral and woody scents, they give that wistful, romantic feel to a room.

5. Season Enhancing Scents

Delve into the season with your favorite candles scents! Autumn's a great time for burning pumpkin spice candles, as well as other baked good candle scents, as is winter. To create that cozy winter environment, choose cinnamon, apple, berry, and pine candles. Fresh candle scents such as cucumber melon are great for spring, as well as fresh cut grass candles which carry into summer. Nothing says summer like a nice citrus, like a lemonade candle scent drifting through the air.

If you love a certain candle, soap, or body spray - whatever the scent may be - don't do what I too often do, which is save it until that scent runs out! Light it and enjoy, it's sure to affect you in a positive way!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Garden Delights For Midsummer

We have almost reached the wonderful magical time of midsummer,
when the garden is aglow with sensational blooms and a fantastic
array of colors. Many of these wonderful blooms fill the air with
their tantalising perfume.

I often pause for awhile especially at twilight when the scent
from the blooms are at their stongest, and feel extremely proud
of the effort that I have put into my garden.

This is when I really appreciate how worthwhile it has all been.

No doubt your garden is looking really special as well, but if by
any chance you feel there are any gaps, or plants that you think
could be doing better, might I suggest that you take some
inspiration from some of these wonderful blooms which I find
truly magnificent.

In my opinion these are some of the blooms that will enhance any
garden and delight the senses with their combined scents.

Rose eglanteria - This sweet briar rose is valued for the strong
apple aroma which comes from the leaves, but there is also much
more than a pink flower in summer, it is followed by a deep red
in the autumn.
I think that it is an extremely handsome bush, and it also makes
an impenetrable hedge.

Agastache faoeniculum (anise hyssop) - This is a stately herbaceous
perennial, whose silver green leaves release a liquorice aniseed
fragrance. The rich violet blue color flowers are particularly
loved by bees, butterflies and goldfinches among others.
I find the rich beautiful color delightful when it bursts into my
garden in the late summer, and lasts right through to autumn.

Cytisus battandeiri (Moroccan Broom) - When planted around the walls
of the house or around the patio, the crushed pineapple aroma which
comes from the cones of the yellow blossom will pervade the air.

It truly excites the senses on the warm still days of June and July,
with its wonderful aroma wafting into the house or patio area.
It should be encouraged to flower freely so that you get the most
from this absolutely wonderful flower.

Magnolia grandiflora - The large chalices are a joy in late summer
with a wonderful lemon zest aroma. It should be helped to bloom when
young by espalier-training the shoots against a warm sunny wall.
Train them horizontally, and shorten new shoots to five leaves in

Dianthus (Brymton Red) - These lovely old fashioned dianthus have a
lingering clove fragrance and the "Brymton red" is a true peacock
among them. They yield a brilliant display of single deep red flowers
laced with darker markings, and are just scintillating in June. Be sure
to deadhead flowers weekly to channel your plants energy into
producing more shoots and blooms.

Eucryphia nymansay - This elegant evergreen is famous for its summer
and autumn display of large honey scented white flowers. The flower is coveted by nectar seeking bees. It needs a warm and sunny location.
I absolutely adore these.

Ferdinand Pitchard - This is an old fashioned rose with the beckoning
smell of fresh picked raspberries. The globular pink blooms striped
with crimson and purple will be your reward for planting this fantastic
rose. It thrives on humis rich soil in full sunlight, and it will bring
color to the summer season most beautifully.

Other Flowers To Bring A Fesival Of Color And Delight.

Gladiolus communis - Until recently people looked down their noses at
gladiolus but they do make really good border flowers. They are
excellent at cramming the other colors, and they barely take any space
at ground level.

Scabiosa "Ace of Spades" - This is one for the chocoholics, "Ace of
Spades" is a mass of velvet and maroon with little white pins that have
a pincushion effect. What a beautiful flower this is, nestle them amongthe green foliage of alchemilla for contemporary color scheming. Allow the last flowers to self-sow.

Delphinium Belladonna Group - If you are looking for grace and charm then Belladonna hybrids are for you. They are ideal for summoning
a romantic effect, look wonderful around cottages, and bring an English type of charm to your garden.
For a full season of color grow with peonies, poppies and dahlias.
Cut down the first spikes once they have flowered for a second
flush of blooms.

Papaver " Lady Frederick Moore" - A charming peach poppy is much softer on the eye than the traditional pillar box red oriental, and is easier to blend with the pastels of early summer. Grow in the sun and
hope for gentle weather to prolong this tissue paper like flower.

Monarda "Capricorn" - Think magenta, think hardy geranium? Why not try an unusual monarda instead, with its beautiful aromatic foliage and spidery petals, totally adored by bees. The stunning color and shapes make it a good contender with spikes of lythrum and veronica.
It is best planted in the sun where the soil does not get too dry nor the space too crowded.

LLathyrus latifolius - A delightful sweet pea that is everlasting but
without the sweet scent I am afraid,,so you can never quite have it all can you.
However, with the strong aromas from the flowers above this pretty flower,I do think that it is worth having in your garden.
The flowers are much bigger than the annual L.odoratus,with iridescent
shells for petals, and twining tendrils that obliginly twirlup small trees or wires on sunny fences. Give them the occasional folier feed and cut down last years foliage in the winter.

Acunthus mallis - Most perennials have unremarkable leaves, but not this stunning bear's breeches. Acunthus makes a versatile backdrop
for classic herbaceous borders or jungle style foliage. The dark
glossy leaves and spikes of dusky hooded flowers will make a show
all summer long. Water well in dry summers.

Achillea "Walther Funcke" - If pastels are not your bag, spice things up instead with paprika shades of "Walter Funcke"! Add a scattering
of yellow day lilies and mix in the wispy blonde leaves of ponytail grass, (Stipa tenuissima), for good measure. It makes a compact drought tolerant mix for a sunny border where space is tight.

Thalictrum delavayi - Verbena bonariensis is not the only see-through plant. The tall meadow rue is wonderful airy for the front of a border, with perenial ferny foliage and clouds of tiny, fluffy flowers on skinny purple stems.
Grow on the cool side of the garden where the soil does not get too
dry in summer.

These are just a few of my favorite wonderfully scented flowers and plants that I think will add a soft to dramatic color to your garden.

So why not let your imagination and flair for color work magic on your own garden.
I can tell you that I feel like a true artist when my garden is in full bloom.Dramm ColorStorm Premium Soaker Garden Hose 25-Foot by 5/8-Inch Diameter - Black #17020

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Give the Gardening Gift This Season

Trying to think of the perfect holiday gift for that special someone on your list? Gardening and lawn care accessories make great gift ideas for the holidays, and in the spirit of the season, here are 12 gardening gift ideas to get you started:

1. Spruce up your loved one’s garden with some metal plant markers/identification tags.

2. How about a tasteful vase so your gardeners can bring the fruits of their labors indoors?

3. Decorate the lawn of someone on your list with a beautiful piece of yard art.

4. How about a spring tune-up kit? John Deere offers a maintenance kit that includes two quarts of oil, an oil filter, a new spark plug and a new air filter. If you don’t know what to get, just tell a dealer the model number of your mower or tractor and let them assemble the package.

5. Replace some of those “old favorite” tools that have been around for decades. Maybe a new garden trowel to replace the one with the bent handle. Or how about a pair of sharp pruning shears, or even a new mower blade? (They’ll never guess what that is sitting under the tree).

6. Bring someone’s garden inside this winter with some indoor bulbs.

7. Upgrade with a power tool -- a garden tiller, backpack blower or even a new string trimmer. Hand tools and power equipment improve every year, so for gardeners there’s always something new under the sun.

8. Commemorate a special occasion by purchasing a new tree or shrub that a family could plant and grow together.

9. Surprise your well-equipped gardener with a useful attachment for his/her lawn tractor -- an aerator, dethatcher to remove dead grass, or a utility cart that’s perfect for hauling compost and fertilizer.

10. How about something a little out of the ordinary? Consider a sturdy plastic gasoline can that won’t rust or build up a charge of static electricity.

11. If your lawn care enthusiast truly does have everything, stuff a gift certificate to a local gardening or home improvement store in their stocking.

12. Or give your loved one the ultimate gift -- a new riding lawn tractor! Visit your local dealership or home improvement store for the latest models.

And if none of these ideas is truly a perfect match, visit your local gardening or lawn care shop -- they will have plenty of ideas to help you find gifts for everyone on your list.

For more information, AllThoseArticles

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to Coax Fresh Vegetables From the Garden All Winter Long

Autumn typically signals the end of home grown vegetables from the garden, but with a little ingenuity you can harvest garden fresh produce well into the winter months. My Central Pennsylvania garden continues to supply fresh vegetables during the fall and winter when most gardeners in my growing region are content to dream about next summer’s bounty. Read on to discover simple tricks that will fortify your garden against the onslaught of frigid weather.

Fall often delivers brief cold spells with a few frost filled mornings, sandwiched between weeks of milder, frost-free conditions. The problem is that a single touch of frost can wipe out every tender annual growing in the garden. Fortunately, a little protection will enable frost sensitive vegetables and herbs to survive a cold snap, and reward the resourceful gardener with an opportunity to enjoy extended harvests.

Something as simple as the transparent, fleecy, floating row covers used to shield plants from harmful insects can also prevent frost damage. Row covers trap the warmth that radiates up from the earth much like the way that a cloud cover holds temperatures and prevents frost from forming. Row covers offer a few degrees of protection, keeping tender annuals safe from light frost. Use the thicker grade covers for maximum benefit.

Late summer is the ideal time to sow cold tolerant vegetables that will flourish in the fall and endure cold weather without complaint. Examples of hardy vegetables for fall gardening include: kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, cabbages, oriental greens, rutabagas, and some varieties of lettuce.

Once freezing conditions arrive, even cold hardy crops will appreciate some protection if they remain in the garden. Cardboard boxes and fruit baskets can provide shelter to individual plants, while old sheets, blankets, and heavy plastic tarps will protect entire rows or beds of plants. Apply the coverings in the evening when freezes are forecast and remove them the following morning after the sun warms the air.

Another effective solution is to use a commercial variety of cloche, or to set up a portable cold frame over the garden bed. Cloches include the heavy glass, bell shaped jars, or variously styled and shaped rigid plastic devices.

One style of cold frame consists of a tubular frame covered by a woven poly material with flaps for venting. You can also obtain sturdier cold frames made with aluminum framing and twin wall polycarbonate panels that lift up for venting. Regardless of the type of protection used to cover your plants you must remove it or provide venting during the day as temperatures rise.

Resourceful gardeners can combine a few discarded window sashes and bales of straw to create a simple makeshift cold frame. Just arrange the straw bales into a rectangular shape around a garden bed and lay the windows across the top to form an enclosed and insulated growing area. This setup will work great to keep a bed of leafy greens growing further into the winter.

Oddly enough, water can protect and insulate plants from the cold. Commercial orchards actually spray water and mist onto their trees to prevent frost damage.
In the home garden you can employ plastic gallon jugs filled with water to provide protection. Place the containers around plants, under floating row covers or tarps, and inside of your cold frames.

The water will absorb and store heat during the day and release it at night to provide warmth for your plants. You’ll get the best results by painting the jugs black so that they’ll absorb more energy from the sun during the day. Incredibly, even if the water in the container freezes, it will continue to release a significant amount of heat energy into the surrounding area.

Certain vegetables will survive on their own in the garden through bitterly cold conditions. Leeks, kale, and collards frequently withstand harsh winters without any protection. Fall planted garlic and shallots will develop strong root systems in the fall, spend the winter underground, and then spring up at the earliest signs of the arrival of spring.

Many root crops including beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips can be left in the garden protected with a thick layer of shredded leaves or straw. You can then continue harvesting as needed, provided that the ground doesn’t freeze and prevent digging. Complete your harvesting before spring arrives though, since quality will degrade once the roots resume growing and switch into seed production mode.

With proper planning and a little extra care you can easily grow and harvest vegetables beyond the normal spring and summer seasons. Simply implement a few of the ideas presented in this article and you’ll soon enjoy your own home grown, fresh produce much longer than usual, possibly even year-round.


Monday, June 8, 2009

How To Plan A Garden Right

Gardening is a hobby that brings joy, entertainment, and a
better quality of life. It is a creative activity, the
result of which is a more aesthetically appealing home.

Thoughtful planning of a garden starts with the type of
garden you would like to have. Deciding on a type of garden
is essential defore choosing which design elements to
include. Will your garden be just a place to plant a bunch
of flowers, which will blossom only during the growing
season? Or would you rather have a thoughtfully-chosen herb
garden? Or maybe just a vegetable plot?

Another issue to consider is the climate in your location.
It can be surprising how little we know about the facts,
figures and statistics of the weather where we live. You may
want to consult an online map to get statistical data
regarding climate elements like rainfall per month or
average temperatures.

The next step, after having decided about the type of garden
and after investigating the local climate, is to figure out
the plants that you would like to grow in your garden. Think
of plants that are suitable for the duration of the growing
season in your location and that will survive the changes in
temperature, typical for your location.

The thoughtful planning of a garden involves one more factor
to consider - how much shade is necessary for each of the
plants. You need to make sure that there is enough light all
over the places you plan to plant your garden.

When you have finished with planning in theory, it is time
to start planning the plots in your garden. Again, think for
a good plan - one that brings joy, is easy to keep to, and
at the same time efficiently uses the available space.

Think about where to place plants that require a lot of
sunlight. The best place for such plants is away from
buildings and taller trees because these block the light at

Deciding which plants to grow near the house, and which
should be in the open also requires some thought. If you
prefer the sunshine streaming through your windows, then you
are best not to have bulky trees or bushes near the house,
where they will block the sunlight.

If you have decided that you will be growing herbs and
vegetables, the best place for them is near the house. When
they are near the house, it is more likely that you will be
using them for cooking. Besides convenience, you should also
think about the location of vegetables as far as their needs
for sunlight are concerned. This is especially true if yours
is mainly a vegetable garden.

Last, but not least, take into account your personal
preferences, when designing a garden. If there are
particular extras you would like to have, for instance
winding pathways or gazebos, include them in the initial
design of the garden. Your outdoor garden is constrained
only by the limits of your creativity and the growing season
in your location.

About the author:
David Kurshel is the webmaster of
BIO Gardening -- a
popular and extensive resource including articles and
a newsletter about gardening.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

5 Pieces of Equipment Gardeners Can’t Live Without

Gardening is fun and rewarding and may be considered a hobby, talent or both and sometimes it’s just luck. Gardening is not as easy as it looks and involves dedication, time and consistency and many trials and errors. There are many aspects to maintaining a healthy garden, but some aspects are more important than others. An individual who likes to garden can have the knowledge to produce the best garden in the world, but without the right equipment and materials it just wouldn’t be possible.

Below you will find a list of the top 5 pieces of equipment which gardeners simply cannot live without:

1. Trowel – A trowel is a shovel-like piece of equipment which is used to dig up dirt and set small plants. There are many styles to choose from and type of handle on your trowel will determine how well it works. Easy grip, non-slide and non-slip grips are the best form of handle to choose. These will be easier to use and will require less work than any other form of trowel. A trowel with no grip will be difficult to use and could end up ruining your garden. Try one out in your hand first to ensure it feels comfortable. There’s nothing like having your hand cramp or the trowel slip while using it to dig in a beautiful, new plant.

2. Pitchfork – A pitchfork is a gardening tool which has 2-6 prongs and a long handle. The sizes of pitchforks vary, depending on what they are being used for. The space between each prong varies as well. Pitchforks are used to separate, lift and throw loose pieces of material such as dirt and leaves.

3. Spade – A gardening spade has a long, thick handle and a heavy flat blade. This tool is used to dig up and move pieces of dirt from one place to another. It can also be used to pack down dirt once the flower has been planted.

4. Pruning Shears – Pruning shears are tools which have a long handles and blades. This type of gardening equipment is used to allow gardeners to precisely prune rose bushes and other plants and unruly vines, etc. It can also be used to cut the grass at the edges of walkways and garden beds, in those hard to reach places. It is also used to trim the edges and remove dead leaves or wood on flowers. There is no other piece of gardening equipment which can do the same job as pruning shears. Without the use of this piece of equipment, your garden will end up looking messy and disorganized. Always, always, always invest in good quality pruning shears. Good ones have a lifetime guarantee and low-end ones will make shrapnel of your heritage rose.

5. Wheelbarrow – A wheelbarrow is one of the larger pieces of garden equipment. It is a cart with a handle and at least one wheel which is designed for easy transportation of materials from one place to another. Purchasing a wheelbarrow will save you a lot of time and effort, especially if you are off to the compost heap, and will make for a pleasant gardening experience. Another option is the 4-wheeled gardening cart.

There are many pieces of gardening equipment which will make this hobby easier and more efficient, however the ones listed above are recognized as the most important. These pieces of equipment will likely last a very long time.

About the author:
Colin Smith is a freelance writer


Saturday, June 6, 2009

5 Most Popular Flowers for Your Garden

When planting a garden there are many questions which you must ask yourself before you begin. Where are you going to plant it, do you have the garden equipment to do so and how big do you want your garden to be? When do flowers bloom and what are their heights? These are all very important questions, however they mean very little if you have not yet decided which types of flowers you want to plant. There are many to choose from and don’t le anybody tell you which ones you can and can’t plant. Gardens are unique and fascinating to look at because each one is unique it its own way.

There are endless possibilities of flowers to choose from but if you are unsure of which types of flowers are known to look best in gardens, keep reading and you will find out. The following is a list of the five most popular types of garden flowers chosen by gardeners from all over the United States:

1. Cosmos - These flowers have the ability to grow anywhere from 12 inches to 4 feet tall. Cosmos are perfect for cutting gardens and are often picked out of gardens and used in flower arrangements.

2. Marigold – Marigolds can be found in yellow, orange, red or a combination of all colors. This type of flower blooms in 45 to 50 days from sowing and very rarely requires additional water than what the rain provides.

3. Morning Glory – Morning glories have heart shaped leaves and are available in a variety of colors including white, blue, red, pink and lavender. This type of flower has the capability to become more than ten feet high.

4. Zinnia – Zinnias are traditional, old fashioned flowers which are constantly blooming all season. If there is not a lot of rain, this type of flower will require watering on a consistent basis but try to get water on the foliage (leaves) as this can cause mold which can potentially cause the plant to die.

5. Sunflowers – There’s no better flower for your garden than the sunflower. Sunflowers have yellowish-orange petal with a black circle in the middle. These flowers can grow to be as tall as 6 feet or possibly even higher depending on the flower itself.

In order for your garden to flourish successfully, you will have to maintain it and keep it healthy on a daily basis. Watering cans, pruning shears, gloves and spades are all types of gardening equipment which will assist you in keeping your garden in good condition. These pieces of equipment are very important and are relatively inexpensive.

The types of flowers you choose will have a large impact on the overall outcome of your garden. The list above was provided as a guideline for novice gardeners who area unsure of which flowers may be most adaptable to a garden atmosphere.

Which flowers you choose will ultimately be your choice and regardless of the kinds or colors of your flowers, your garden will be a wonderful piece of work for everyone to admire.

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