Roses – Of Course
How to grow roses
Peaches Ripening on Tree
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What You Missed
Darwin Tulips
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Roses, Corn & Peaches
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Under the Grape Arbor
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My Garden Journal
Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Cut Flowers
Bird Feeders & Roses
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Heaven on Earth Rose
Chives, Sage & Roses
Corn & Peach Trees
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Day Lilies
Cut Zinnias
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Potted Snapdragons
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Archive for April, 2012

Cheap Gardening – Beautiful Flowers Don’t Have To Cost A Fortune

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Cosmos grown from seed

When we bought our house 2 years ago, we removed almost all of the lawn, leaving only the parking strip in the front and a small patch of lawn on each side of the front walkway. That left a lot of empty space to fill. Even allowing for the future deck, grape arbor, raised vegetable beds, fruit trees and garden paths, there were still a lot of empty flower beds.

Since plants cost so much, especially perennials and shrubs, we had to figure out the least expensive ways to get the plants we wanted.

We planted some of our perennials from seeds, like Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea), Foxglove (Digitalis), Canterbury Bells (Campanula) and Delphiniums. It takes longer to get mature plants and blooms, but you sure get a lot of plants for your money. All of these did really well and come back each year.

Most of our flower beds are filled with roses and perennials, the majority of which were bought this time of year (Sep. & Oct.) when they had been marked down 50-75% because it’s near the end of the growing season and merchants want to get rid of them.

Some of the ones we bought looked pretty sad after a long, hot summer in a pot, but because they were perennials, it didn’t matter. I knew that if we got them in the ground and took good care of them that next Spring they would come back out and be beautiful.

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Echinacea grown from seed

So check out the garden centers and nurseries, don’t forget to check grocery stores that carry plants. Online nurseries also have some great deals because they are also trying to get rid of their stock before winter. It doesn’t matter if the plant is a little ratty looking, as long as it’s alive. This only applies to perennials, not annuals, which will die at the end of the season anyway.

A good source of free plants is from friends who have mature plants that need dividing. This is such a good source of plants because if a plant needs to be divided then you know that it grows well in your area.

Taking cuttings from plants and rooting, then potting them, is another good source of free plants.

Have an idea of the size of the space you’re trying to fill and read the plant labels to see if it’s a good fit. Perennials look good in groups of 3, 5 or 7 plants.

Use markers with the plants’ names and stick them in the ground where you plant them, because when they die down in the winter it might be hard to remember what you planted and where.

Not doing that is why I have some mystery plants in my garden that I hope to learn the name of one day.

Until your shrubs and perennials mature and reach their full size you’ll have room to plant annual seeds such as Zinnias, Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons and Marigolds. I’ve used these to fill in the spaces and they make great cutting flowers. Save the seeds from these and you’ll never have to buy seeds again.

You can have such a wonderful yard and not spend much money, just track down those bargains, don’t be afraid to plant seeds and make some good gardening friends who like to share.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6575025

10 Myths About Feeding Birds

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Blue Jay

1. If you feed birds, they won’t migrate and will be caught in the winter cold.

Birds know when to migrate based on sunlight, weather and their natural instincts, that give the urge to migrate. It doesn’t matter how much food is available to them, in the bird feeders or where ever, when it’s time for them to go, they go. Migrating birds do need to eat though, especially during migration, and if you keep your feeders well stocked, you will get a bigger variety of birds at your feeders during migration.

2. Birds will starve if you stop feeding them in the winter, so once you start, you can’t stop.

It is best to keep your bird feeders well stocked in the winter for the hungry birds. You’ll want them to think of your yard and garden as a place for food, so they will hang around all year. Birds in the garden are very beneficial and aren’t just pretty things to look at. They eat a lot of bugs and larvae that would be eating your garden. So attracting birds to your yard year round is a good thing. If you suddenly had to go away, though, they would find food somewhere. They can range far and wide in search of food, they may have to work harder for it, but they will find something to eat. If you know you will be away though, it is better to arrange for a neighbor to refill your feeders for you. If not, then you may have to be patient and lure them back to your yard.

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Goldfinch on Finch feeder

3. Feeding the birds is really good (or bad) for the birds.

In reality, birds do not need for us to feed them. They are perfectly capable of finding food on their own. So is it good to feed the birds? Well, it certainly is for us, since we get to enjoy watching them and listening to them, not to mention all the good they do in our gardens. Feeding them is also good for them, because they get a better variety of food at the bird feeders than they would normally get during the winter, and it’s more accessible to them. It’s not “bad” for the birds because birds eat what they like. If the food you put into the feeders for them gets spoiled or ruined, they will avoid it. If you put food they don’t like, they will avoid it and go somewhere else to eat. That’s a very good reason to use good bird seed mixes in your bird feeders.

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7 hummingbirds at feeder

4. The bags of mixed seed found at the grocery stores are bad for the birds.

Actually, it’s bad for your pocketbook, not the birds, because the birds will just toss out the seeds they won’t eat. Bags of cheap bird seed, whether it’s from the grocery store or not, usually has so much filler seed in it that the birds won’t touch, or it has red milo, wheat and other things in they don’t eat and it will have none of the good stuff like, millet, black-oil sunflower seeds, broken peanuts, safflower or sunflower hearts. So it’s a waste of money. However, even the grocery stores are beginning to carry higher quality birdseed, with very good combinations of seed, fruit and nuts that appeal to many kinds of birds. Buying bird food at feed/hardware stores or specialty bird shops is usually best, but high quality mixes can be found other places as well.

5. Squirrels and blackbirds won’t eat safflower seed.

Many people who feed birds will use lots of safflower seed in their mix, believing that it deters the squirrels and blackbirds from feeding at their feeders. If that was ever true, it doesn’t seem to be true any longer. Many people report that any bird (including blackbirds) or mammal (including squirrels) that will eat sunflower seed, will also eat safflower seed.

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One of 10 birdfeeders in the garden.

6. Only one species of hummingbird is found east of the Rocky Mountains.

I’m not sure of where this myth came from and if it were ever true, but it certainly isn’t true now. There is a wide variety of beautiful hummers at hummingbird feeders all over the east, north and south.

7. Birds won’t eat milo.

I’ve always considered milo to be one of the filler seed in the cheap bags of bird food, but I’ve recently learned that in the southwest it is a favorite of doves and quail and some other birds. So whether this myth is true or not depends on where you live.

8. Hummingbird food with red dye in it is bad for the hummers.

The truth about this myth is that we really and truly don’t know. There is no proof that it’s harmful to the birds, but there is no proof that it isn’t either. If you buy hummingbird food ready mixed, then it will probably be red. If you mix your own (1 part sugar dissolved in 4 parts hot water and cooled) then you don’t need to add the food color. The red food color really isn’t necessary because the red that attracts the hummingbirds is usually found on the feeder.

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Cardinal enjoying lunch

9. There is a bird feeder that is 100% squirrel proof.

I’ve bought enough “squirrel proof” bird feeders to know the fallacy of this myth. Squirrels are ingenious, resourceful creatures and when there is a large population of them, and they are hungry, they will find a way. It may take them a while, but they WILL succeed.

10. Hummingbird feeders shouldn’t have perches because it is bad for the hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds can feed while hovering, and they can feed while stationary on a perch. There is no proof that the perches are either good or bad. I have feeders of both kinds in my yard and the hummers seem to stay longer at the feeders with perches (I don’t blame them, I’d rather sit to eat as well) and the other hummingbirds linger nearby awaiting their turn.

So, in reality, there is no good reason not to feed the birds, yet there are lots of really good reasons why we should. Watching the different species of birds that show up at our feeders and watching how they interact with each other can be so amusing and enjoyable. If the birds come to think of your yard as a haven with available food, they will stick around and come back season after season, year after year. This is a good thing for you, because it means you will have less bugs and creepy crawlies in your yard, eating on you and your garden. If you are lucky enough to have songbirds in your area, then you will have added reason to feed the birds.

For more information on feeding the birds and what foods to use to attract them to your yard have a look at this site: http://www.ourgardengate.com/2011/10/31/10-best-foods-for-birds-in-the-winter-2/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6662151

Now Is The Time For Training Young Fruit Trees

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Limb spreaders in the plum tree

Newly planted fruit trees tend to want to grow with the limbs going straight up. To create good scaffolding and to open up the center so that sunlight can get in, the tree must be trained. There are many methods of doing this, such as hanging 2 liter bottles, that contain a little water, from the limb. This pulls it away from the vertical growth and away from the other limbs.

An easier way are by the use of long plastic sticks with notched ends so that it is easy to wedge between the limbs. These can be ordered online (I got mine from Starke Bro) and they come in different lengths for different sized limbs. It is also possible to use long wooden sticks that you can just cut notches into.

The idea though, is to create a good shape to the tree, with good support so that later, when it is loaded with fruit it will be able to withstand the weight without having the limbs break.

Clematis Are Blooming

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Early Clematis in bloom on iron gate of grape arbor

One of the earliest signs that Spring is really here, is the early Clematis bursting with blooms. I have a lot of Clematis and unfortunately I bought most of them before I understood the different blooming/pruning patterns completely.

After a season of the quick, early bloomers and then a season of the last all summer and into fall bloomers, well I thought I’d really made some poor choices of some of my Clematis. But, now when the early ones are blooming so beautifully, when most other plants are just setting buds for blooms, I’m thinking the early ones do have their advantages. After a long winter (and this one wasn’t all that bad) it’s so nice to again see some color in the garden…the earlier the better,

Growing Lots of Veggies in Small Spaces – It’s Time To Build Your Raised Beds

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Raised vegetable bed ready for planting

Since our yard is less than 1/4 acre, and there were so many things we really wanted in the yard, we didn’t have a lot of space to grow vegetables…and we really wanted to grow vegetables. So, we tried the raised bed method and it has been a great success.

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Raised vegetable bed with tomatoes and corn

The raised beds not only grow vegetables in abundance, but they look neater in the yard and make it easier to take care of the plants.

You will be amazed at the variety of vegetables that can be grown in raised beds. Last year we even tried corn. We did the ‘3 sisters’ thing of growing green beans to climb the stalks and the squash to grow all underneath.  We’ve also grown lots and lots of sugar snap peas and English peas, Swiss chard, lettuce, beets, okra, rutabagas, cucumbers, collards, turnips, spinach, bok choy, carrots, kale, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini.

Stepping outside to pick fresh vegetables for dinner is so much more fun than running to the grocery store.

We only have three raised beds which measure 16′ by 4′ and they don’t take up a lot of our yard space. If you’re interested in learning how to build your own raised beds (yes, there is a right way and a wrong way), Click Here!

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Raised Bed Vegetable Garden and grapes growing on the fence behind it.

Since spring and summer come late here, we have to wait till mid-May to plant a lot of things, but our peas, lettuce and Swiss chard are all coming up now. Many of the cool weather veggies will finish early in the summer and can then be planted again in the late summer or early fall for a later crop.

 

It won’t be long before I can say goodby to the produce isle at the supermarket.

 

Gardening Perks

 

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Yellow lilies in front yard

An unexpected thing I enjoy about our garden is getting to talk to so many people as they pass by, some strolling, some on bikes and many in cars. We live on a corner just off Main Street in our little town of about 40,000 and so it feels like we live in Mayberry, with so many friendly people. Anyway, one day a man walking his dog stopped to talk and was telling me how much he appreciated me putting the names by the plants so passersby could know what they were. I told him I hadn’t thought about the people passing by, I was just trying to remember the names of plants and what was planted where.

I moved out here to the West almost 3 years ago and even though I’d gardened for such a long time in the south (zones 7 & 8), there were so many plants out here (zone 5b/6a and elevation ca.5000′) that I’d never heard of and didn’t recognize. Really, there were very few of the ones I was use to growing that would grow out here. So if you think you have to know a lot to be a gardener, then I’m living proof that you don’t. I started reading a lot, I now have 154 gardening books (I just counted out of curiosity), almost all second hand. I like to be able to look up anything I need to know about. I do use the internet a lot but I get a lot of help from books.

Back to the names on the plants…I use metal wire stakes with a metal plate to write on. They work great for helping me to remember the plant name and to mark the spot where it’s planted so in the spring when I’m looking for places to put new plants I’ll know that place is reserved for something that will be coming up soon.

When I have spaces to fill I like to plant annuals that have plenty of blooms to use and share, like Cosmos and Zinnias, which can grow quite tall if they’re happy. Last year I had a profusion of blooms along the sidewalk outside the picket fence on the South side  of our yard (our house faces West) and large areas covered in blooms inside the fence.I try to get everyone to come and cut bouquets from the zinnias and cosmos because it encourages more blooms and it makes people happy.

One afternoon as I was sitting on a little stool weeding by the front sidewalk a little girl, about 8 years old, came riding by on her bike and stopped to talk. She gave me one of my favorite compliments when she said, “Your yard looks like a flower forest.”

How could I not like that?

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Cosmos by sidewalk on south side of house

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Lavender and daisies in front yard by grape vines.

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by Eliza Osborn

We Are Growing Bamboo in Our Garden – Are We Crazy?

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Using bamboo in the landscape

My husband and I both love bamboo, it is so tropical looking and beautiful. Last year we started talking about bamboo and the idea of trying to grow it in our climate. I didn’t think that we could because of our harsh winters. With some research though, I was happy to see that there are some kinds of bamboo that will grow here.

I don’t claim to be an expert on bamboo, but I have done some research on it and I’m just sharing with you some of the things that I’ve found out about it. Besides being beautiful, bamboo is really amazing. It is fast growing, yet easy to control if you understand how it grows (more on that later), is an unusual plant that can provide a privacy screen or a focal point in your landscape.

Since bamboo is a grass, it needs high nitrogen fertilizers, just like you lawn. It needs sunshine and a constant supply of moisture. It shouldn’t be allowed to dry out but it can’t grow in standing water either. The soil should be well drained and rich in organic matter. Mulching helps to keep the moisture in and the weeds down so there will be not competition for the roots.

Not all bamboo is alike, it comes in a variety of colors and growth patterns. It can grow 6′ tall, 15′ or 25′. Some can get 70′ feet tall in the right environment, but in the home garden, most will probably be less tall than their maximum height.

There are basically two kinds of bamboo, clumping and running. The beautiful, exotic bamboo shown here, are all running types of bamboo. The clumping bamboo won’t get big and gorgeous like these, it has a shrubby, weedy look to me.

Bamboo has a bad reputation for being very invasive and aggressive. It takes a few years to get established but when it does, it can be very fast growing (up, as well as out). As I understand it, the plant only sends up shoots for a couple of months in the spring. After that time, no more shoots will come up till the next spring. When the shoots come up outside the area you want the bamboo to grow, just let them get a few inches to a foot tall and then just kick them over. They are very tender during this time and easily removed. What’s more, another shoot won’t come up in that spot. Also, all bamboo are edible and so the shoots that are kicked over can be eaten (especially good in oriental cooking).

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Beautiful gray bamboo in bamboo forest in China

You can also keep the area mowed (or use a weed eater) to keep the shoots from growing.

A barrier can be put down around the area as well. Since bamboo roots are pretty shallow, only going to about 12″-15″, a 2′ barrier would prevent the spread of the roots and shoots. Remember, this is a plant, not a monster that can’t be controlled.

We found a great place to get our bamboo, with very reasonable prices and a wide choices of plants. We actually went there ourselves and toured the extensive bamboo gardens. I fell in love with bamboo and I can’t wait to have ours growing tall and magnificent in our garden.

The bamboo nursery we found is called Steve Ray’s Bamboo Garden and is in Alabama.

It is found online at: http://www.thebamboogardens.com/

The types of bamboo we picked out for our garden are all hardy in our zone. Click on the “Zone Map” button above to see the temperatures for your zone. We chose Phyllostachys aureosulcata – Yellow Groove Bamboo with is hardy to -10′; P. humilis – which is hardy to 0′ and p. nigra “Henon” – Giant Gray Bamboo, hardy to 0′. This one the stalks can get 4″ thick. Can’t wait to see that.

Just thought you might like to consider something new for your garden and landscape.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider clicking on the “Plus 1” button, and any of the social media buttons. Thanks so much.

 

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Unusual joints in bamboo stalks.

 

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Bamboo, an unusual and beautiful landscape plant

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by Eliza Osborn

Where to start? – How To Plan a Garden, How To Plant a Garden – How To Be a Gardener

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Back yard in 2009, before garden planted, arbor and deck built

I’m trying to decide whether to began at the end or the beginning. Maybe I’ll just jump back and forth.

I mentioned in “About Us” that in 2009 we’d bought a very old home in the Rocky Mountains (zone 5b-6a) and had taken up most of our lawn. I didn’t mention that we also took down four huge trees and many large, old shrubs. You can imagine what a mess our yard looked. But…we had a plan.

Here is a picture of our yard when we began laying it out. The big crater is where a large stump was ground out and where the Queen Elizabeth roses now stand beside the deck. You can see 2 of the 5 little peach trees planted early that spring. The small one on the end is stunted because deer ate the top out of it when it first put on leaves.

Peach trees, Queen Elizabeth roses, hyacinth bean tower

Peach trees, Queen Elizabeth roses, hyacinth bean tower

I think the neighbors were a little worried about the nut jobs that had moved in next door. It did look pretty bad but we did put up a privacy fence to protect their eyes. Of course the picket fence in the front yard didn’t hide very much and the front yard looked this bad too.

 

 

 

 

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by Eliza Osborn

Limelight Hydrangeas and Japanese Anemone – How To Grow Perennials, When to Plant & How To Use In Landscape Gardens

Shady flower bed

Dogwood, Japanese Anemonies, Limelight Hydrangeas, Lamium and Sweet Woodruff by front porch.

When we bought our house a couple of years ago there was a small varigated Dogwood Tree beside the front porch with Sweet Woodruff and Lamium growing thickly under it. Late in the summer some pretty foliage started coming up. It only grew to be about a foot high and since I didn’t know what it was I just let it grow there. Since the foliage was so pretty and was coming up in little sprigs all through the Lamium I decided to move some of it around the yard. Most of these sprigs soon looked dead and I regretted moving them.

Since the Lamium is a low grower I planted Limelight Hydrangeas in front of the Dogwood. In September the little plant I didn’t recognize began to bloom and were beautiful. Well the next year those little plants, which I finally identified as Japanese Anemonies, grew huge and practically covered up the Hydrangeas.

The ones I had moved the year before had been just playing possum and they began to grow too. Now I’ve moved sprigs all over the garden. It’s a beautiful plant and still tries to outgrow the Hydrangeas but I’ve decided it’s survival of the fittest because I don’t want to move either of them. That next year too there were pink ones where there had just been white ones the first year. By the way, there is a Hydrangea behind that mass of white blooms.

I’ve since learned that they can be considered invasive but they are such a hardy plant and so pretty and best of all bloom in the fall when

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Perennial garden in back yard

almost everything else is finished up. I hope they invade my whole garden. Maybe I’d better be careful what I wish for.

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by Eliza Osborn

Herbs I’ve Grown and Loved

 

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Growing favorite herbs in the herb garden for cooking

I started growing herbs when my Aunt Pearl, who lives in Georgia and is also a gardener, gave me a large pot planted with herbs. I’ve been growing them ever since. I like to mix them in among other perennials, although I have had beds with just herbs in them. Herbs are so easy to grow and since you need to keep pinching them back to make the plant fuller and to prevent blooming, you have plenty to use in cooking and you’ll have plenty to share, since it really is good for the plant to get pinched back. In most cases it would be hard to use that much of any herb. When I prune them back I put the clippings I’m not going to use in a basket on my kitchen counter. The smell is wonderful.

Put the ones you are planning on using in a glass with water in the fridge and they will stay fresh until  you need them. When using fresh herbs in recipes you’ll need to use a larger amount (about 2-3 times as much) because measurements are usually for dried herbs, which have much less volume. Fresh herbs make such a difference in foods. For example, potato salad is a whole different dish when prepared with fresh oregano, thyme, parsley and chives. The flavors are so fresh and wonderful.

Some can be grown from seeds and some can’t. Some can be dried and used, some frozen. If you’re interested in planting herbs, now is a good time for planting the hardy ones. Depending on where you live, Rosemary is iffy, and basil surely can’t take the cold but most others are pretty hardy. I’ll talk more about herbs later, but for now you really should consider herbs for your garden. You’ll fall in love.

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by Eliza Osborn

 

 

How To Start a Garden

hyssop, sedum, phlox and rhubarb

2011 - Agastache, Sedum, Phlox and Rhubarb

This question comes up a lot and I think the best place to start a garden is not with a shovel and dirt but with pencil and paper.

Gardening is a growing interest and a lot of people, even though they want to garden, just don’t know how to get started. Even a small bed can produce a great amount of flowers or vegetables.
Here is a link to an article I’d written that might be of some help. Check it out.

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Start-a-Garden-In-5-Easy-Steps&id=6559034

before deck was built

2009 - Newly planted Agastache and sedum

 

potted plum tree and flowers by back door

2011 - Deck with potted plum tree and flowers.

 

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by Eliza Osborn

Growing Your Own Food Is Easy With a Vegetable Garden

 

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Raised vegetable bed ready for planting

Vegetable gardens are popping up all over the place. Next summer, notice how many people are carving out a little portion of their yard to start a garden to grow some of their own food. I remember back in the 40’s and 50’s small kitchen gardens were the norm, along with a few fruit trees.

It really doesn’t take much space to grow a few vegetables, vegetables that tastes so much better than anything you can buy in the store. The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of know how either. A little research on the things you want to grow, and you will be a gardener before you know it. If you happen to live where there really is no room for a garden, then grow some things in containers. The containers don’t have to be fancy, they just have to be big enough that the roots will have plenty of room and big enough that there is plenty of soil so that it doesn’t need watering every hour. Good drainage is a must. Boards nailed together to make grow boxes, or barrels cut in half and holes drilled in the bottom will work. See this page for some ideas of some vegetables to grow in containers:  http://wp.me/P1OXDF-1bc

Growing your own vegetables can be a fun family project. Let the kids choose vegetables to plant and help them to learn how to take care of their own plants. I noticed that my children ate vegetables out of the garden so much better than ones from the freezer. I think it was because they had part in planting, weeding, watering and harvesting them.

Times are tough for a lot of families right  now and buying a few packets of seeds might be a really good investment. As the winter months drag on and we plan for the spring and summer, consider giving the vegetable garden a shot.

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Raised beds in in front of grape vines on fence in August

Even though I’ve been gardening for so many years, it still amazes me that we can take a little seed, put it in the dirt, and it will make food for us. Isn’t that just amazing?

 

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Fresh Grown Vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While On Vacation…

While we are away visiting grandchildren, I am re-posting some of the more popular posts of the past. We’ll be back soon tending the garden.  The asparagus was already coming up and the tulips, hyacinth and daffodils were blooming. LOVE being in the garden in  Springtime, but love being with  grandkids more.

 

10 Reasons to Garden

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Ripe tomatoes ready for bottling.

Everybody enjoys looking at a garden or being in a garden, but not everybody actually enjoys getting in and getting their hands dirty and their backs tired. The rewards are so great though, it’s worth the effort, time and money.

Here are just 10 very good reasons to garden.

 

 

 

  1.  I want a beautiful yard and can’t afford a gardener.
  2. I need the exercise.
  3. It keeps me out of the house so I don’t have to see that it needs cleaning.
  4. I get fresh fruits and vegetables that are way too expensive in the store.
  5. I get a sense of accomplishment.
  6. I get an opportunity to talk to neighbors and passers-by that I would miss cooped up inside.
  7. I can take my frustration out on the weeds instead of my sweet husband.
  8. It creates beautiful, relaxing places to spend time with family and friends.
  9. It gives me a great reason to get out of bed in the morning.
  10. It’s in my blood and I just can’t help it!

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by Eliza Osborn

Our Garden Gate
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