Garden Gnomes Inspire Cult Following Worldwide


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Garden gnomes have inspired an enthusiastic and devoted cult following, both in the real world and in cyberspace. Perhaps nowhere is the garden gnome’s cult status more apparent than in North Devon, England at The Gnome Reserve and Wildflower Garden.

This unique attraction is fun for everyone, with a reserve where garden gnomes can run free, a wildflower meadow, a stream and pond and woodlands. The natural beauty of the English countryside can only be enhanced in one way, gnomes! This unique park does it best, with over 1,000 gentle gnomes in residence. Non-conformists are discouraged, so tall, pointy hats and fishing poles are handed out to visitors so they’ll feel more at home with the gnomes.

Special exhibits walk the visitor through the manufacture and painting of gnomes, and a gnome museum documents the history of this fascinating race. It is rumored that at night, the small army of gnomes on site plants and tends the wildflower reserve and fishes in the pond.

While the Gnome Reserve is perhaps the largest gnome home in the world, garden gnomes are celebrated elsewhere as well, especially on the web. A very cute site called nigelthegnome.com chronicles a Florida gnome’s travels across the United States in pictures. Websites selling garden gnomes abound, most selling traditional gnomes and others selling specialty gnomes.

One of the most interesting gnome websites is a storefront that sells garden gnomes who look suspiciously like George W. Bush! We aren’t sure if they’re illegitimate offspring or relatives, but the resemblance is uncanny. See for yourself at www.bushgnome.com.

Another gnome place in cyberspace is thenaughtygnome.com, a specialty site that features gnomes with a special appreciation for the moon.


As with any minority population, garden gnomes are not accepted and loved by everyone. There are a lot of gnome hate sites out there with a lot of really negative, hateful postings. We can only hope that someday, garden gnomes can also make their dream of a better world where they can live free from prejudice a reality. Certainly garden gnome cult following is a sign that the times, they are a’changing.

Care And Repair Of Garden Tools


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Knowing how to properly use and maintain garden tools will increase their life, help prevent personal injury, and increase your gardening enjoyment. For example, properly uncoiling a hose will prevent you from tripping or catching your foot in the coil. The points of an upturned rake can inflict painful and sometimes serious puncture wounds when stepped on, to say nothing about the possibility of the handle flying up and striking you in the face. Tools must not be left where their edges or point may be hidden by grass, leaves, or other material. Keep your fingers away from the blades of the lawn mower: merely striking your hand against the blades can lead to a brutal injury. A small, slight crack in a wooden handle can be repaired by wrapping the handle with tape. A glass filament tape is particularly useful for such a job.

Splinters in wooden handles of rakes, hoes, and shovels can be cured by sanding the surface until it becomes smooth again; this not only protects your hands, but keeps the cracks from spreading and causing the handle to break. A good way to preserve a wood handle is to apply several coats of quality varnish or to paint it. The metal parts of the tool may be painted, with a primer coat, and two coats of exterior paint. However, any metal part which goes into the ground should not be painted.

Aside from preservation by paint, the tools are easier to find when their handles are of a color which makes them conspicuous if left lying on the grass: The color, therefore, should not be green or brown, but a bright contrast to the grass such as red. yellow, blue, or white. The metal edges of shovels, hoes, rakes or other garden tools may become nicked. These may be smoothed with a metal file. Any rough surfaces should be gone over with steel wool or other abrasive which is good for metal. Dents may be straightened out by hammering with a mallet. A wheelbarrow break, in the wood or metal parts, should be repaired at once. Painting the wheelbarrow helps preserve the wood. The moving parts need occasional oiling, to run smoothly. For winter storage, keep tools in a dry spot as dampness could be harmful. Wipe all tools clean of any dirt or grass before being stored. The metal parts should be coated with a mixture of petroleum jelly and light oil, to prevent rust.

Caring for your garden tools will help them last year after year!




Chives Allium Schoenoprasum


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Known as common garden chives, Allium schoenoprasum, can be grown indoors and out. Chives are rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium. They are grown for the flavour of their leaves, which is reminiscent of onion, although much milder. Both the stems and light purple flowers are used in cooking and the snipped leaves are an addition to many dishes. Chives lose their flavour with long cooking so it is best to add them to dishes at the last minute. For chopping stems, a pair of scissors is the best tool.

Chives can be frozen or dried. They are less flavourful when dried rather that frozen, so they are best used when fresh and snipped, or snipped and frozen. In both cases sort them carefully, removing any yellowing leaves and shoots, and keep only the plump green ones. It is possible to place chives in non-iodized salt, keep them there for several weeks, remove the leaves, and then bottle the ‘chive salt’ for use in flavouring.

Chives are a perennial in the garden and grow approximately 12 inches (30 cm) tall. They are extremely easy to grow, are drought tolerant, rarely suffer from disease or pest problems, and don’t require fertilizer. Cultivation requirements for growing chives: full sun, will tolerate light shade; grow best in well-drained, organic, fertile soil; keep soil moist – use mulch, and water during periods of drought. Chives tend to get overcrowded so dig and divide every three to four years.

Chives are easily grown from seed or can be brought indoors at the end of the growing season. If you are bringing chives indoors, divide a clump, and pot up in good houseplant soil. Leave your chive plant outdoors for a month or so after the first frost to provide a short period of dormancy. Bring them indoors and provide the requirements needed for them to start growing again. To harvest, snip leaves 2 inches (5cm) from the base of the plant. Cut flower stalks off at the soil line once they have finished blooming. This prevents the plant form forming seed and keeps it more productive.

Chives require at least five to eight hours of sunlight a day. Grow them on a southern or eastern exposure to the light. If you are growing them on a windowsill, turn regularly to ensure every side receives light. If you are unable to provide this amount of light, they also grow well under fluorescent lights. Hang lights 6 inches above the plants and leave lights on for 14 hours per day.

In the garden, plant chives with carrots. They are good companion plantings for tomatoes and fruit trees. Chives or garlic planted between rows of peas or lettuce control pashas and are reported to control the incidence of aphids when planted between roses. In the kitchen, use chives in omelets, scrambled eggs, casseroles, rice, dips, gravies, butter, meat, and seafood. Chives can be added to soft cheese, salads, sandwiches, sour cream, vinegar, and bake potatoes. Chive blossoms can be used for garnishing and are particularly attractive in salads. Chive stems can be used for tying up little bundles of vegetables for appetizers.

Preparing The Garden For Winter


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Are you like me? Sad to see the summer end but at the same time relieved that there is one less task to tend to. Weeding, watering, pruning, and more weeding is over for this year and with a few more chores the outdoor gardening year draws to a close. Most of what needs to be completed is a matter of cleaning up and covering up. Practical steps to preparing your outdoor garden for winter involve:

1. Protecting plants. There are different opinions concerning whether to cut down or leave plants standing through the winter. Here on the prairies most people leave their perennials standing for a variety of reasons. In particular, trapping the snow cover is important for protection of plants and retaining moisture. Snow cover acts the same as good mulch by insulating the soil. Many perennial stems and seed heads are also very attractive for winter interest and provide food for the birds. After the ground freezes, mulch perennials and shrub beds with pine needles, compost, peat moss, or chopped leaves. This protects the soil and plant roots and moderates the effects of extreme temperature changes during winter periods of freezes and thaws. 

2. Cleaning-up the garden. Harvest warm-season crops such as tomatoes even though they are still green. Lie out on windowsills; or layer in boxes with newspapers between the layers of tomatoes. They will slowly ripen or you can use green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes or various green tomato recipes. Pull out any remaining crops or spent annuals; clean up remaining debris and weeds to decrease the possibility of disease problems in the spring. 

3. Evaluating your garden design. Before you start winterizing your garden, take a few minutes to review what worked and what didn’t and make note of any areas that you would like to change in the spring.

4. Prepare the soil for early spring seeding. Turn over the garden soil late in the season while amending with organic matter such as leaves, compost, or well-rotted manure. In the spring, a light raking is all that is needed.

5. Caring for trees and lawns. Protect the tender bark of young trees from rabbits and gnawing critters by wrapping stems or trunks with chicken wire or commercial tree-guard products. To prevent rodents from nesting near buildings and trees, trim tall grass, and remove weeds. Deeply water trees and shrubs so that they go into winter well hydrated. Don’t prune shrubs and trees as it may stimulate new growth just before the harsh weather. Cut lawns and fertilise if you wish with a low nitrogen ‘winter’ blend. Use grass clippings for mulch or compost. Never send them to the landfill, as they are excellent fertiliser left on the lawn (if they are not too long) and/or make terrific compost/mulch dug straight into the garden or used for pathways. Once rotted on garden pathways, dig into the garden and replace with new grass clippings.

6. Planting before winter. Now is the time to plant bulbs. Garden centres carry many varieties suitable for the prairies. Remember: buy good quality as cheap is not better – the larger the bulb – the larger the bloom. Look for plumpness, firmness, clean skin, and surface. Directions for planting are included with the package.

7. Composting. Compost dead plant debris including leaves. Leaves are a valuable natural resource. Rather than a nuisance, they are the best soil amendment as well as terrific mulches. Leaves take very little effort to recycle into a wonderful soil conditioner – leaf mould – for the yard and garden. You can make leaf mould by the same process nature does. Pile up moist leaves and wait for them to decompose or shred the leaves into smaller pieces before piling them up. If you wish, you can enclose the pile with chicken wire, snow fencing, or something similar. In the spring, I rake up dry leaves and dig them straight into the vegetable garden. 

8. Cleaning your tools. Clean the soil from all your gardening tools, oil any wooden handles and moving parts, sharpen any blades, and then store them in a dry place for the winter. 

9. Water Gardening. Bring in pumps, drain, clean, refill (if necessary) and store tender water plants prior to freezing.

10. Bringing in your indoor plants. Before bringing in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors, examine them for critters, wash them, and spray with soapy water or insecticidal soap. Use sterilised potting soil purchased from garden centres or shopping malls if re-potting your plants. Don’t use garden soil as it may harbour insects, weed seeds, disease, and fungi.



Identification Of Good Quality Gardening Supplies


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Congratulations! At last you have decided to have a nice garden for your biggest house. Now the big question is how to choose gardening supplies, which are useful for your garden at nominal price but with good quality. Identifying proper gardening supplies is an important thing for a garden lover like you.

Do you know gardening is an art, which requires tender care and deep passion for growing plants? But the part of the art knows how to choose gardening supplies. Just like that of pet care, you pat them on the head, you take them for walks and you talk to them. Your plant also requires same care from you. You should clearly know how to choose gardening supplies- the gardening trade tools.

As you care your plants, you can visually see how they grow? It can be both fulfilling and gratifying and also teach how to choose gardening supplies is a step towards that goal. You should also know that different kinds of garden require different kinds of garden supplies. 

In general most of the garden supplies are available in packages, which deals with a particular type of garden. Hence the first and foremost tip on how to select your garden supplies depends mainly on the type of garden you own or envisioned. Some garden requires specialized watering system and not a water sprinkler, and some garden may require held shovel instead of ditch digger. It is also advisable that you don’t spend more money on the garden supplies. 

In case if you are going to make a nice garden, you can contact the nearby garden supply store and may ask them to stock your requirement or in some instances gardening supplies can be made by yourself. But it is necessary to know how to choose your required gardening supplies won’t pinch out much from your budget.

Another important indispensable matter to consider is knowing the garden supply stores that can accommodate your type of garden. There are multi various garden supply stores, which are specialized in rooftop gardens, indoor gardens, and all the other kinds of gardens. Even you can easily identify the garden supplies stores, which offer alternative garden supplies such as ergonomic garden tools, pest control methods, and organic fertilizers. 

If you find no time to visit mortar and stone shops of shopping malls to get your required garden supplies, you can browse and get your preferred garden supplies through online. Online shopping helps a lot to the gardeners by the way of comparing the prices of an individual garden supplies for better tools. In addition to this, online shopping helps to order your garden supplies without leaving your homes, and also get to know the latest trends in gardening supplies. It is noted that some online shops offer discounts for your supply of garden supplies in their shops. So go visit the online garden supplies to get a product at nominal price with esteemed quality.


The Art Of Landscaping Your Garden




Landscaping is the one gardening endeavor that can consume lots and lots of your time and energy. If you are thinking of tackling it on a grand scale, you will need some major preparation. If you were to consider hiring a professional landscaper, you would most probably find that the costs would be quite horrendous.

Now that’s fine if money is no object, but I personally get great pleasure from my own endeavors, gardening is after all my great passion in life.

I would strongly suggest however, that you have a clear idea in your mind about how you would like your garden to look, rather than simply starting off without a clear plan in mind.

Having said all that, here are simple but indispensable tips to guide you in making your landscaping activities extremely rewarding.

Draw Your Landscape Plan.

However not just any plan. It needs to be a well thought out landscape plan, or you are certainly doomed to lose money as well as time and energy. You really need to take account of the style 

and function of your landscape, and a good idea of the plants that you also want to include. Focus on that area where you spend most of your time, because this is where your landscaping labors should all be directed.

Investigate A Free Planning Service. 

Hiring an independent designer would probly cost you hundreds of dollars, but you might well discover that many nurseries offer a free planning service, particularly if you are likely to be 

spending some money with them.

Take Account Of The Style Of Your Home.

When planning your landscape, the style should complement the design of your house and your personality as well. There are various landscape styles which you can choose for your garden:-

1. Formal – This style uses lots of straight lines and perfect geometrical shapes. Orderly arrangement of plants instead of random positioning is employed, and close arrangement and pruning 

is used on many landscaped gardens with this style.

2. Informal – This kind of landscaping goes well with houses which have a cozy look to them. Beds with curved edges instead of straight lines and random placement of plants suit this landscape style.

3. English Garden – This style emphasizes on the harmony between the house’s architecture and the garden. 

4. Formal/Informal Garden – This style often comes with a brick walkway that exudes formality. This walkway leads to the rear with a circle of plants. The arrangement of plants resembles the English garden style, but it has no formal borders.

5. Oriental – It is often the kind of garden found in houses with small backyards. It uses rocks, evergreens and water, and a wide variety of plants to create several angles with this style.

6. Woodland – This landscaping suits a house that has a wooded backyard and an inclined terrain.

Keeping those tips in mind will not only make your landscaping a very fruitful activity, but will save you considerable expense as well as time.

Don,t be frightened to use your imagination and flair for color in this project, after all it is primarily to please yourself and your family. I suggest that the satisfaction that you will gain from creating and designing your own personal landscaped garden, will make you feel like a true artist.

Orchids How To Keep Them Alive


By Ahmed Hajouj.


My mother has recently taken up orchid care and, being the curious sort of person that I am, I was interested to learn what makes them ‘special’. What makes them a plant apart from the normal houseplants grown at home and why do they appear to be a challenge to the green-fingered? 

My mum has always been able to look after plants, both indoors and out, so it was no surprise when, having been given her first orchid as a present, she got ‘hooked’ on how to look after them. I have ‘brown fingers’ not green ones, so am full of admiration of anybody that can keep houseplants alive for more than one season.

After talking with mum and a bit of my own research here are some tips for orchid care:

Orchids How To 1: Consider it’s natural conditions

When you buy an orchid, make sure you can recreate the conditions the plant requires in its natural environment. There are all sorts of varieties, some hardier than others so look at the label to check.

Orchids How To 2: Careful Watering

Watering them about every 4 – 7 days seems to be enough, but it does depend on the season. To check if the plant needs water, push a wooden stick or pencil into the medium, if it comes out darker, there is enough there. Orchids can require different amounts of water at different times of the year, so keep checking!

Orchids How To 3: Feeding

Most orchids benefit from a specialist orchid fertilizer that is fed as a weak solution and applied once a week. To do this, use only half the amount mentioned on the packet. The type of fertilizer will depend on what your orchid is growing in, so it is wise to check that first. 

Orchids How To 4: Repotting.

Sooner or later, unfortunately, the orchid is going to need repotting. Remove the old mix from the pot, being careful not to damage the roots. Rinse the roots and trim off any hollow or mushy ones, as they are considered dead. Place the plant into a new pot, orchids apparently like being root-bound, so there should only be about 1″ between the roots and the edge of the pot. Add the new mix/medium to the pot, tapping the sides to make sure it settles properly. Press gently to settle the plant but don’t use too much force or the roots may break. Use a stick to support the plant in the pot so it is secure. If your plant is growing in sphagnum moss, make sure it is damp before wrapping it round the roots and repotting, that way you don’t have to worry about pockets of air. After repotting the plant should not be watered for 3 – 5 days to allow it to recover.

Orchids How To 5: After it flowers.

Check whether your orchid flowers only once from the flower spike or will flower repeatedly from the same spike. Once the plant has finished flowering the spike needs to be removed at the base with a sharp instrument to lessen damage to the plant itself. If you aren’t certain, don’t cut it off!

Orchids How To 6: Caring for it.

An important part of orchid care is looking out for various fungi or parasites. Isolate any plant that has a problem, check it out, find the remedy and start treating as soon as possible.

A Take On Grasses Appreciating The Lowly But Important Garden Element


By Ahmed Hajouj.


When the subject of gardens and landscaping is brought to a conversation, the first things that pop into people’s minds are trees, shrubs, flowers. Rarely do people take notice of something very significant and crucial for the beauty of most landscapes – grasses. Humans step on them, children play on them, dogs roll over them, but most of the time people ignore these prominent figures of gardens and parks. Imagine how a landscape would be without grasses – it would be dull, dry, boring if not downright ugly. Without grasses, a scenery would usually not be complete.

Grasses are very useful not only for their aesthetic qualities but for some practical purposes as well. Grasses are very flexible as they can grow in almost any quality of soil more than other kinds of plants. Grasses do not need so much for them to thrive, just water is enough for most grasses to grow and make any landscape green. While many people have the notion that grasses are boring, their wide variety makes them interesting components of a landscape as they come in different colors, textures, and heights. Even when grasses die and get dry, they still have certain decorative and practical value. Grasses are very important for the environment as well as they serve as ground covering that can prevent soil erosion and maintain a good amount of water for other plants to grow.

There are many kinds of grasses each having their distinct qualities that make them worth planting in different kinds of landscapes. Here are some of them:

Bermuda grass – this is perhaps the most popular kind of grass which is extremely popular in places where the sun shines most of the time. This kind of grass is ideal for sunny areas because they are very resistant to heat and drought. This high tolerance makes it an ideal grass to cover vast tracts of lands. However, the hardiness of Bermuda also gives it the tendency to “invade” areas inhabited by other plants.

Blue grass – this is another popular type of grass that grows well during the summer being drought tolerant like the Bermuda. This is very common in the north because of its tolerance cold weather. However, blue grass can grow clumpy when not maintained well.

Bahia grass – this is very popular in the Southeastern parts as they are very easy to maintain. Bahia grass has coarse blades that are resistant to drought and shade as well as salty water and soils. However, this grass requires a lot of mowing because of its texture.

Buffalo grass – this one is very much like the blue grace and is also rather common in the Northern parts. This grass is good for parts that there is little rainfall. The appearance is somewhat a cross between the blue and Bermuda grasses. Its blue-green tinge in summer turns straw brown during winter.

Kentucky bluegrass – this is the most popular kind of grass in the north, and it is sometimes planed in the south. It is characterized to have a soft texture and a dark green shade, it is quite resilient to cold.

Bent grass – this is a perennial type of grass with a fine texture. It is known to form soft turfs that are tightly knit. This characteristic makes it an ideal grass for golf course greens.

There are many other types of grass, each grow for appropriate purposes for appropriate regions and weather conditions. There are several books and magazines for landscaping that tackle everything about grasses. There are also many online resources about the subject.

Grasses are important parts of any landscape. They add life to any dull piece of land as they provide a sense of warmth and coziness.

Flower Cutting And Cultivation Tips


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Iris

Varieties good for cutting are magnolias, the luxurious waxy flowers are all beautiful for cutting. M.denudata is one of my favorites, once established you will get a dense covering of natural white super fragrant flowers.

Cultivation tips for magnolias, they need shelter from strong winds and like the sun, but can tolerate partial shade, soil ph should be neutral, the soil needs to be deep and must have good water retention, but not spongy. Best time to plant is in late spring

Cardamine

Varieties that are very good for picking from early spring are C.pratensis, the subtle pink shades of the cuckoo flower mix beautifully with bluebells. These splendid flowers grow naturally but I prefer to grow my own.

Cardamine cultivation, they just love the sun but can also thrive in semi-shade. They can tolerate a wide range of Soil ph (Acidic through to Alkali) but the soil must be moist or wet. Propagations tips, propagate from seed in spring or by division in autumn.

Pulsatilla

Varieties good for cutting are P.vulgaris or P.vernalis. These amazing pasque flowers are very exotic and have a sexy purple coloring, there are of course other colors available, but I prefer the purple.

Cultivation, they need the sun and can be slightly temperamental in shade conditions, the soil needs to be well drained calcareous (containing chalk). Propagate from root cutting in winter or fresh seed in late spring.

Arctotis Fastuosa – monarch of the veldt

Varieties that are good for cutting are the Vendidium fastuosum. This bright orange daisy with black markings on the petals and a chocolate center is one of my favorites, this variety lasts about twice as long in water as a marigold

Conditioning, strip off the bottom leaves. Cultivation, grow them in super drained sandy soil in non shady conditions.


Garden Gnomes Inspire Cult Following Worldwide


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Garden gnomes have inspired an enthusiastic and devoted cult following, both in the real world and in cyberspace. Perhaps nowhere is the garden gnome’s cult status more apparent than in North Devon, England at The Gnome Reserve and Wildflower Garden.

This unique attraction is fun for everyone, with a reserve where garden gnomes can run free, a wildflower meadow, a stream and pond and woodlands. The natural beauty of the English countryside can only be enhanced in one way, gnomes! This unique park does it best, with over 1,000 gentle gnomes in residence. Non-conformists are discouraged, so tall, pointy hats and fishing poles are handed out to visitors so they’ll feel more at home with the gnomes.

Special exhibits walk the visitor through the manufacture and painting of gnomes, and a gnome museum documents the history of this fascinating race. It is rumored that at night, the small army of gnomes on site plants and tends the wildflower reserve and fishes in the pond.

While the Gnome Reserve is perhaps the largest gnome home in the world, garden gnomes are celebrated elsewhere as well, especially on the web. A very cute site called nigelthegnome.com chronicles a Florida gnome’s travels across the United States in pictures. Websites selling garden gnomes abound, most selling traditional gnomes and others selling specialty gnomes.

One of the most interesting gnome websites is a storefront that sells garden gnomes who look suspiciously like George W. Bush! We aren’t sure if they’re illegitimate offspring or relatives, but the resemblance is uncanny. See for yourself at www.bushgnome.com.

Another gnome place in cyberspace is thenaughtygnome.com, a specialty site that features gnomes with a special appreciation for the moon.


As with any minority population, garden gnomes are not accepted and loved by everyone. There are a lot of gnome hate sites out there with a lot of really negative, hateful postings. We can only hope that someday, garden gnomes can also make their dream of a better world where they can live free from prejudice a reality. Certainly garden gnome cult following is a sign that the times, they are a’changing.







Grow Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden


By AHmed Hajouj.


Organic systems recognize that our health is directly connected to the health of the food we eat and, ultimately, the health of the soil.

Here are some of the main features of organic growing:

- Organic growing severely restricts the use of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

- Instead, organic growers rely on developing a healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops.

- Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are not allowed under organic standards.

Going organic may mean that you have to make a trade-off between glossy, same same supermarket looks with better tasting crops that aren’t perfect in shape or size, but many gardeners think this is a price worth paying. You’ll be able to grow different crops that are always relatively expensive to buy in supermarkets and at farmers markets and, growing your own vegetables is both fun and rewarding.

Among the many things an organic vegetable garden may offer towards a satisfying experience are fresh air, exercise, sunshine, knowledge, supplemental income, mental therapy, and fresh food, rich in vitamins and minerals, harvested at the best stage of maturity.

You can easily make compost from garden and kitchen waste, although this is a bit more time consuming, you will also make cost savings, because you do not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening.

Where animal manures are available, they are probably the best source of fertilizer and organic matter for the organic gardener. Use manure which has been aged for at least 30 days if possible, or composted. I am often out in the road if any horses have gone past gathering the manure for the garden. Its looks a bit odd to the teenagers on the street but the dung is worth it!

If you have space for a few pots, or a small space in the garden or even an allotment, it is a wise decision to grow your own organic vegetable garden. To better care for your health, grow your own organic vegetables -and a few pots is all you need at a minimum.

If you have a surplus you can sell these and you will be contributing to the ‘go local’ food movement which is flourishing – over 15% of people buy organic food locally and this number continues to rise as the number of farmer’s markets, box schemes, cafes and restaurants serving organic food increase. GuideMeGreen helps you to find locally produced foods which are fresher, healthier and more economical. It cuts down on transport costs and ‘food miles’ where an average shopping basket can include fruit and vegetables transported from all over the world. Even in the UK or USA food is transported from the farm, to the packing centre, then to distribution centre before arriving at the supermarket to be bought which is then transported by car home!


Tips On Dealing With Slugs And Snails In The Garden


By Ahmed Hajouj.


One of the most common problems faced by gardeners is the one of slugs and snails. Even experienced gardeners tear their collective hair out at the destruction these creatures can cause. So I thought I would give you a few tried and tested tips, and some others perhaps not so well known, to help you deal with them – you won’t get rid of them all together, but at least you will be able to keep them under some sort of control!

They may not all work for you – a lot depends on just how bad the problem is where you live – but it is certainly worth trying some if not all of them. 

Barriers:

These methods will be more effective against snails than slugs, as slugs live in the ground and can therefore avoid barriers. 

On your garden borders, you can use barriers around plants, such as crushed eggshells, grit, bran, or wood-ash or soot. The theory is that slugs and snails are reluctant to cross these materials and will therefore wander off elsewhere to look for their next meal. Make sure you put plenty down without any gaps.

Scatter oat bran around your plants – slugs love it, but if they eat enough, they expand and die!

Petroleum jelly smeared thickly around the rims of pots has a similar deterrent effect.

You can purchase copper tape with an adhesive backing, which you can stick around the pot sides – this gives the snail a small electric shock as it tries to cross. 

Traps:

Use beer traps – very effective at dealing with both slugs and snails, and you can buy these from a garden centre. Place the trap, filled with cheap beer, in a hole with the top at soil level. You can also use out of date fruit juice, or even milk just about on the turn. Alternatively, make your own by cutting off about 3-4 inches off the base of a plastic drinks bottle.

After eating your half grapefruit, cut a small hole and place the skin upside down on the soil. Slugs love it and will congregate inside and each day you can collect them up.

Collect all the slugs and snails you can find in the late evening, when they start to become active and drown them in a bucket of heavily salted water. Plain water will not work – they will simply swim to the surface and crawl out! Or, if you know where they hide out, you can gather them up during the day – try looking under logs or bricks, and shrubs, any dark, damp corner.

And what to do with the slugs you’ve collected? If you put live slugs or snails into your compost heap, they will probably stay there, as there is plenty of matter for them to feast on. You can also put the dead ones in there too, those in the beer traps including the beer – but scoop the dead slugs and snails out of the salty water first. 

Predators:

For a biological control, you can use nematodes – microscopic parasites that kill the slugs above and below ground. Obtained from organic garden suppliers, you simply mix the powder with water and spray on to the soil using a watering can. This can be effective for around six weeks.

If you are lucky enough to have the space, adopt some chickens or ducks – they just love eating slugs – and you can have some free eggs into the bargain.

Make your garden wildlife friendly, to encourage the natural predators of slugs and snails to come and visit. Dig a pond to encourage frogs and toads; leave out food for hedgehogs; and put up bird feeders. This will not provide an ‘instant fix’ for the problem, but in the long term will give you a healthier garden with fewer pests.

Till next time, happy slug hunting!

Garden Fountains


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Garden fountains add a special touch to any environment. They’re beautiful to look at and listening to the sounds of gently splashing water is a great way to push aside your worries of the day. And believe it or not, garden fountains are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to transform any space into your own private sanctuary.

Once you start looking for garden fountains, you’ll quickly realize that choosing the perfect one is going to be your biggest challenge! With so many beautiful styles, sizes and materials to choose from, your options seem endless. Simple or elaborate multi-tiered garden fountains have always been very popular and the tower style with water cascading down the front of a rectangular-shaped piece of glass or stone is today’s trendy style.

Wall mounted garden fountains are another option, and they’re perfect when space is limited. But even when space isn’t limited, wall mounted styles can really make a statement when placed along the entryway to your home. And there’s more.

They’re lovely to look at and soothing to listen to, but garden fountains are also very easy to maintain. Most are self-contained meaning that you don’t need to hire a plumber to get your fountain up and running. Most are available in either electrical or solar-powered models. With the electrical models, you will need access to an electrical outlet.

Other than that however, simply choose a location, assemble the fountain, plug in the submersible pump that recirculates the water, and fill your garden fountains with water. In literally minutes, you’ll be enjoying the sights and sounds and most importantly, you will instantly begin to feel more relaxed.

To ensure their continued functionality, it’s important to keep garden fountains clean. This is easy too. Simply clear out leaves and other debris regularly so this matter doesn’t clog up the pump and be sure to maintain the water level according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In colder climates, garden fountains need to be emptied and covered to protect against damage.


How To Care Garden Tractor Tires


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Garden Tractor Tires Require Good Care

The following article describes the garden tractor tires, constructional features, maintenance, and care instructions specifically for garden tractor tires. It also discusses the storage of garden tractor during winter months when the tractors are not being used.

Garden Tractor Tire Design

You would have noted that the garden tractor have different diameters on the front and rear tires. The front tires are smaller and the rear ones are large. The tractors are front wheel driven and this is the reason for the smaller front tires. The ribs on front tires are generally straight and rear tires are cross-ribbed. The tractor tires do not have to pump water as the truck tires. In fact, they are required to work in waterlogged area effectively. 

Weight Distribution In Tractor Tires

The load distribution in tractor tires is generally 40 % on front tires and 60 % on rear tires. In order to avoid the compaction of earth below the rear tires, the tires are made large so that the additional load that they carry compared to the front tires do not compact the earth below it. The tires have large ribs so that they cut through the earth instead of compacting it.

Garden Tractor Tires Come As Original Equipment

Your garden tractor tire would have come to you as original equipment along with you tractor. When you change the tires, make sure that the same or equivalent tires are used. This will ensure that the performance from your garden tractor remains as original. 

Since lawn tractor tires are almost the most used part of these gardening machines, you should be aware of a proper care and maintenance. One of the most important things to have in mind when using tractors is keeping the accurate inflation as well as the terrain where they work must be slippery an uneven. Apart from these basic tips, there are so many that all gardeners should know before start working with this powerful machine, that could last a lifetime, when it’s maintained properly.

Installing a Drip Irrigation System


By Ahmed Hajouj.


If you’re looking for ways to keep your garden watered without wasting toomuch time and money, you’ve probably gone through a lot of options in your mind. Maybe you’ve considered a sprinkler, a hose, or a good old-fashioned watering can. All of these methods might be convenient, but most of the time you will end up wasting water on plants that don’t need any more. If you live in a drought stricken area like I do, you know that every bit of
water counts. I ended up getting a drip irrigation system. I haven’t regretted this decision at all.

When you install a drip irrigation system, you can choose one of two varieties: above ground and below ground. The above ground version drips small amounts of water continuously onto the ground, and allows it to soak in. It is all regulated from a pressure controller, which ensures that the water just comes out at a drip instead of a spray or a stream. These pressure regulators are very inexpensive. The whole drip system can be set up with a pressure regulator and a garden hose with holes poked in it (although it is ideal for you to get a pipe designed for this type of use, I’ve found that the hose method works acceptably).

The underground system is a bit more of a pain to install and maintain. But if you’re really into the aesthetic aspect of your garden and don’t want any visible watering system, then you might consider it worth it. It’s essentially the same as the above ground version, only a small trench
is dug for the hose or pipe prior to any planting. This allows the water direct access to the roots for the most watering efficiency. Plus, you can impress your neighbors by having a beautiful garden without ever going outside to water it! They’ll be baffled.

To choose between the two systems, you need to take several things into account. Do you have the same plant layout year round? If it is always changing, you probably won’t want to bury your hose. It can be a pain to dig it up and re-align it with all your new plants every year or so. Even
if your plant layout never changes, you need to consider how much you really mind seeing a hose in your garden. If it really bothers you to the extent that you’re willing to work for a few hours to get rid of it, then by all means bury it. But otherwise I would suggest staying above ground if for nothing else than the convenience of repairing and rearranging.

One of the main advantages of the drip irrigation system is its efficiency. Instead of spraying large amounts of water willy-nilly like a hose does, it makes the most of your precious water by putting it exactly where it is needed. It can also provide your garden with constant watering, instead of just having to go thirsty whenever you’re not around to water it.

So if you’re looking for an easy, cheap, convenient, and efficient alternative watering method, you should go out to the gardening store today and purchase the necessary items to install a drip irrigation system. I think you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to maintain a
garden after you have it.

Rose Gardening


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Roses have gotten a bad wrap over the years for being difficult to grow and maintain.  If you are thinking of rose gardening don’t let this rumor stop you.  While rose gardening can prove to be challenging, once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t that bad.  

When you first start rose gardening, you will have to choose what type of rose you wish to plant, and no, I’m not talking about the color.  You will have to choose between bare-root, pre-packaged, and container-grown roses.  Bare-root roses are sold in the winter and early spring.  They should be planted as soon as frosts are over and the ground is warm and workable.  Pre-packaged roses are bare-root plants that are sold in a bad or box with something around the roots to retain moisture, such as sawdust.  Container-grown roses are grown; you guessed it, in containers.  They will be either budding or already in bloom when they become available in the early spring.

Planting in rose gardening is not that much different than any other type of plant.  The most important thing, as always, is good, healthy soil and a prime planting area.  It doesn’t matter whether your roses are bare-root or container-grown, the planting methods are the same as any other shrub.  Make sure the spot you choose has good drainage, gets plenty of sunlight, and will not overcrowd your roses.  Before planting, any dead leaves and thin or decayed shoots need to be cut off.  Any damaged or very long roots also need to be trimmed.  Soak bare-root roses in water about 10-12 hours to restore moisture in the roots before planting and water the soil before planting as well.  Make sure the hole you have dug is large enough for the root growth of the rose.  Also it is a good idea to use compost or mulch.  After all, roses like extra nutrients just like any other plant.

Roses need the same things as other plants; they are just a bit needier.  One of the most important things to remember in rose gardening is that roses are heavy feeders and will need several fertilizer applications.  Fertilizing should be started in early spring and discontinued in early fall.  Make sure not to over-fertilize (fertilize should come with instructions) and water after each feeding.  Roses require large amounts of water; a thorough watering twice a week should be enough.

Pruning is an essential part to flower gardening.  It increases blooms and encourages healthy plant growth.  Different varieties of roses have different instructions for pruning, so you might want to read up on your rose types and see what is suggested.

The main thing to remember in rose gardening is to water, water, and water some more.  One other thing about rose gardening is the amount of fertilizer and nutrients you will need to use, and the pruning that needs to be done to keep your roses under control and healthy.  Even though rose gardening takes a little more time and roses are more work, they are one of the most unique and beautiful plants, and definitely worth the extra work.

Using Rain Barrels to Survive Droughts


By Ahmed Hajouj.


If you’re a gardener that has an unlimited supply of water, consider yourself lucky. There are many of us who live in drought zones where the garden and lawn watering rules are very constrictive to the healthy growth of gardens and plants. Many people just give up when they find out how few gallons of water they are permitted to use, but some of us have just found
ways to cope with less water. There are many ways to optimize ones garden to conserve water while still keeping it lush.

Some of the ways include drip irrigation (the use of a pipe or hose with small holes to gradually seep into the roots of the plant), the placement of plants in groups of equal watering needs (to prevent wasting water on plants that don’t need it), and using compost or mulch to insulate the
water and prevent drainage.

But one of the best ways to keep your garden alive during a drought is to take preventative measures. Occasionally a drought will be predicted far in advanced, or those already experiencing a drought will be given a few weeks of heavy rain. When this occurs, you should take the opportunity to set up several rain barrels. Many people think this would be a time
consuming, silly thing to do. But it can save you many gallons of water, and hardly requires any work.

Finding the barrels will probably be the hardest part. You can use your own garbage cans, or head to your home improvement store to get a few 55 gallon plastic drums. These can be expensive and difficult to transport, so keep that in mind before you go to the store. You will probably want to cover the top of the barrel with a screen of some sort to filter out any
unwanted leaves or debris that might fall off the roof of your house.

Once you have your barrels ready, you’re faced with the decision of where to place them. Usually during rainfall, there is one corner or segment of the house that rain tends to pour off of. If you are taking the simple approach to barrel placement, just place the barrel under all the places where you see large amounts of drips. However, while this might be the easiest way to place them, you won’t see very high volumes of rain in the barrels.

If you want to take a more complicated approach to placing the barrels, you should consider tweaking your gutter system a bit. If you remove each individual segment and place it at a very slight slant so that all the water is diverted to the nearest corner of the house, you can place a rain barrel at each corner. So essentially your entire house acts as a catcher for the rain, instead of just a few feet worth of shingles. This is how to maximize the amount of water your rain barrel will catch.

After a heavy rainfall, each individual barrel probably won’t see very much rain. If it looks like it won’t be raining more any time soon, it’s a good idea to empty each barrel into one main central barrel. Seal it and save it out of the way, for whenever you may need it. Then the next time it starts to rain, you’ll be able to quickly put all your catching barrels into place without having to lug around all the water you’ve accumulated so far.

The use of water barrels might sound like an antiquated idea. However, when you’re in the midst of a drought and you’re able to spare that extra couple of gallons for your garden in addition the city allotment, you’ll be grateful for every bit of time and money you spent on collecting all that rain. All it takes is a few trips out in the backyard every time it
starts to sprinkle, and you’ll be a very happy gardener when water isn’t so abundant.

Herb Gardening


By Ahmed Hajouj.


Herb gardening is becoming more and more popular every day, and for a good reason.  Herbs have practical value, serve a purpose, and with herb gardening you can actually use your plants.  When most people think of herb gardening they automatically think of cooking, but herbs are also grown for their pleasant aroma and their beauty.

One important part of herb gardening is drying the herbs for use during the winter months, especially if you plan on cooking with them.  First the tops of leafy herbs have to be cut, washed, and hung up for the water to evaporate.  Then, tie stems together and hang up in a paper bag to dry.  After two to three weeks they must be removed; crumble the leaves, dry them out in the oven, and store in a glass jar.

One of the most common herbs gown in herb gardening is basil.  “Dark Opal” and regular green basil are beautiful additions to any garden and often used as decoration.  Dark Opal has light pink flowers and dark red leaves.  Basil isn’t just used for its looks; it is used for extra flavor in tomato juices and pastes.

Chives are very petite looking and resemble a blade of grass.  They are much stronger than they look, however, and will grow well through a drought and a drought.  Their toughness and sturdiness makes Chives a perfect plant for herb gardening, especially if the gardener doesn’t want plants that require a lot of hassle.  Chives are good used in salads, egg dishes, and many different sauces.

Mint is also very simple to grow and is good to use in mint jelly, mint juleps, lemonade, and any other kind of fruity drink.  Mint is also good in herb gardening for its unique minty smell.  Two herbs that appear in nearly everyone’s herb garden are thyme and sage.  Both of these herb gardening favorites are used for flavoring soups, chicken, turkey, pork, and other sausages.  Sage is also grown sometimes for its beautiful blue spiked flowers.

Lavender is probably the best smelling herb in all of herb gardening and is often used in candles, as a perfume scent, and to improve the smell in linen chests.  The light purple flowers smell absolutely lovely.

Other types of herbs often grown in herb gardening include borage (used in salads), chervil (used in egg dishes), sweet marjoram (flavors lamb, fish, salad, and soup), sesame (flavors crackers, cookies, and bread), and dill (flavors meats and used in pickles).  Herb gardening allows gardeners to use herbs from their own garden for cooking, looks, and smell.  Herb gardening will produce much fresher herbs with more flavor than store-bought herbs, and are a lot cheaper.

Japanese Gardening


Japanese gardening is a cultural form of gardening that is meant to produce a scene that mimics nature as much as possible by using trees, shrubs, rocks, sand, artificial hills, ponds, and flowing water as art-forms.  The Zen and Shinto traditions are both a large part of Japanese gardening and, because of this; the gardens have a contemplative and reflective state of mind.  Japanese gardening is much different than the Western style and most would say it is far more meditational and soul soothing.

In Japanese gardening there are three basic methods for scenery.  The first of these is reduced scale.  Reduced scale is the art of taking an actual scene from nature, mountains, rivers, trees, and all, and reproducing it on a smaller scale.   Symbolization involves generalization and abstraction.  An example of this would be using white sand to suggest the ocean.  Borrowed views refers to artists that would use something like an ocean a forest as a background, but it would end up becoming an important part of the scene.

There are essentially two types of Japanese gardening: tsukiyami, which is a hill garden and mainly composed of hills and ponds.  The other is hiraniwa, which is basically the exact opposite of tsukiyami: a flat garden without any hills or ponds.

The basic elements used in Japanese gardening include rocks, gravel, water, moss, stones, fences, and hedges.  Rocks are most often used as centerpieces and bring a presence of spirituality to the garden.  According to the Shinto tradition rocks embody the spirits of nature.  Gravel is used as a sort of defining surface and is used to imitate the flow of water when arranged properly.  Stones are used to create a boundary and are sculpted into the form of lanterns.  Water, whether it be in the form of a pond, stream, or waterfall, is an essential part of a Japanese garden.  It can be in the actual form of water or portrayed by gravel, but no matter what form water is in, it is crucial to a Japanese gardens balance.

There are several forms and types of plants that are signature of Japanese gardening, the main one being Bonsai.  Bonsai is the art of training everyday, average plants, such as Pine, Cypress, Holly, Cedar, Cherry, Maple, and Beech, to look like large, old trees just in miniature form.  These trees range from five centimeters to one meter and are kept small by pruning, re-potting, pinching of growth, and wiring the branches.

Japanese gardening is a tradition that has crossed the Muso Soseki, poet, said “Gardens are a root of transformation”.  A Japanese garden is sure to bring about many different feelings and is definitely a transforming experience.

Using Vines to Decorate your Garden


By Ahmed Hajouj.


A great way to decorate your garden is the use of vines. They are very low maintenance and look good on almost anything. If you’ve got a fence or separator that really stands out in the field of green that is your garden, then growing a vine over it can be a quick and aesthetically pleasing solution. However, there are many types of vines for different situations, whether you are trying to grow it up the side of a house, along the ground, or up a tree.

Many different ground vines are available. These types grow fast and strong, and just inch their ways along the ground. They are very easy to direct, so they can make a border around your garden, or just weave in and out of the plants. I suggest using these as a hardy ground cover if you just want some green on your dirt or mulch. Usually you can find a variety that is resistant to being stepped on. It’s like a leafy, nice alternative to grass. Even if you have kids and a dog, it should have no problems staying alive.

Another type of vine that is available is a “twining” vine. This refers to their method of climbing. Twining vines require a lattice or equally porous surface to climb up, since they are not sticky at all. They just climb by sending out small tendrils to loop around whatever is nearby. I suggest using this type of vine for climbing up trees, or any type of mesh. Usually you have to guide them a lot more during their early stages, and after that they will go wherever you want them to.

Vines not only look good on the ground or on lattices, you can blend them in to the very architecture of your house. This is usually achieved through the use of vines with small tendrils that have adhesive tips. They extend from the vine and attach themselves to almost any surface. If your garden is adjacent to your house and you want something to camouflage the big unsightly wall, it’s a great idea to start out a few vines near the base. If you have a vine like the Virginia Creeper growing, then your entire wall will be covered in a matter of months. However I have seen situations where the vine got out of control. After that, you have no choice but to watch the vine take over your entire house.

One of the vines that you would probably recognize is Ivy. You see it around a lot, generally because it is so adaptable. Out of the types I mentioned above (ground, twining, and sticky pads), Ivy can fill in for pretty much anything. It makes a great ground cover, and will grow up about any surface you put it on. Although it grows quick and strong, I wouldn’t suggest growing it up your house. This is because recently, buildings which have had ivy for many years have found that it has been deteriorating the building.

So no matter what you want to do with a vine, you should have no problem getting it to grow. You should always do your research beforehand and find out about any negative qualities the vine has (such as its ability to destroy buildings, in Ivy’s case.)

Seven Gardening By the Yard Tips


By Ahmed Hajouj.


If you have a tiny yard and would like a simple but well-maintained garden, you only need two things - determination and know-how.  Here are some tips on how to keep your garden by the yard looking spruced up and glamorous.

1. Deadheading
Keep your border free from wilted flowers and dried leaves. Deadheading or removing dead flower heads will encourage the plants to produce more blooms for longer. Many perennials such as geraniums and dahlias, and some annuals benefit from having spent blooms removed 

3. Pinch out tops.
Certain plants - especially foliage plants like Coleus - respond with a spurt of growth when their tops are pinched out. Pinching out makes the plant much bushier and so more blooms are produced. Fuchsias are prone to becoming leggy unless they are pinched out.

4. Fertilize lightly.
A minimal amount of fertilizer will further boost the growth of your vegetation. If you water your yard frequently, you have to fertilize it more regularly because of nutrient depletion. A fortnightly application of liquid fertilizer is sometimes more beneficial than granules as it is more readily absorbed by the leaves. Container plants will be considerably healthier with a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer applied regularly.

5. Weed out.
This is one of the best ways to preserve the beauty of your garden by the yard.  Remember, weeds compete with your plants for both nutrients and moisture. If the weeds are not close to seeding, leave them on the bed to rot down for mulch. If you must use a weedicide, try and get a wick applicator, rather than a spray. This will protect you plants from spray-drift.

6. Water them well
One good tip when it comes to watering your garden by the yard is to give it a thorough soaking once a week, making sure there is no run-off to cause erosion. Deep watering will encourage the growth of deeper roots that will be able to withstand dry spells weatherwise

7. Say no to chemicals
Chemicals are dangerous to humans and often kill the natural predators of the pest in your garden, so avoid them if possible. There are many organic alternatives that work almost as well. 

With these simple tips, your garden by the yard will soon be the envy of your neighbors.