Sunday, December 14, 2014

Watering Houseplants with Spray-N-Grow

Last summer my neighbor bought two bottles spry-n-grow from amazon.com and gave me one of them.  I had read about the amazing plant growth and vitality when using this nutrient formula for plants and I was happy that I got a free bottle. 

 I used the spray-n-grow for my outdoor gardens and the plants greened up quickly in the spring and were very healthy but when the cold season came I did not think to feed my indoor plants with spray n grow until I happened to come across the formula under my sink and thought I would give it a try.
Purple Orchid houseplant

I followed the directions as indicated on the bottle and mixed on teaspoon of spray n grow in 16 ounces of water and waited a few minutes before use as this is what the direction indicate. Then I watered my house plants.

Within 10 days I did notice new leaf buds and thought that my plants looked overall greener. I will continue to water my houseplants with spray-n-grow throughout the winter months and hope that I have more orchid blooms.

Learn more about Spray-N-Grow here: 


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Updating Outdoor Planters to Winter Arrangements

Now that winter is here and I can no longer look out at my lovely gardens so I decided I would update my plastic planters by turning them into winter arrangement.

Before beginning the transformation of my window boxes and garden planters I will need to cut some branches from the evergreen trees growing in my yard and then I will cut some lower branches from our Frazier fur Christmas tree. I may have to buy some branches from the Christmas tree out lets and if so I will get some spruce and pine branches.

Whenever I put together an outdoor arrangement I always start with a resin container then fill it up with regular potting soil, then water the soil until it drains from the bottom of the planter. The first time I created a winter arrangement I used a clay pot and come January it cracked.

Putting together a winter arrangement is fun. I start with tall cut branches in the center and then add shorter branches. I like to mix up the colors of the evergreen branches because it makes the planter interesting. When the planter is filled with the evergreen branches I will then spray the greens with wilt proof.

Now I can decorate with weather proof red bows, pine cones, honey combs, ornaments or festive holiday bows that are hot glued to a pick. I also like to add natural holly branches with the red berries to give the arrangement some natural beauty.



Do make winter arrangements out of evergreen branches?

Save money and have fun by making outdoor winter arrangements for your plastic planters.  Here is a video that will inspire you: 



Poly Rake Product Review

This year we bought one of those large poly lawn rakes from Lowes.com garden center. This rake has no metal on it and is lighter in weight so if you have a large yard or a lot of leaves this rake sure does make removing the leaves easier.

The rake has a 46 inch handle, 30 inch head with 30 tines and the total weight is two pounds. I used this rake today and found that I did not have to bend over as much and that I could move a whole lot of leaves from under the shrubs and in the gardens with little effort.

My husband swears by a metal rake but when he picked up my rake with the cushioned handle and the next to nothing weight, well it was hard to get my poly rake back.

If you are looking for a new rake to remove the leaves from your yard then I would recommend a poly lawn rake because it gets the job down quickly and efficiently and you are not as sore as you are when you use a traditional metal rake.

Note: I would recommend that you pick up one for your husband too, because even though he may be a die hard metal tines rake fan, if he gets his hands on your rake you may not get it back. 




Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter Care for Ajuga Reptans/Creeping Bugleweed

Now that the warm days of autumn are coming to an end I thought it would best to take care of my ajuga creeping bugleweed for winter. Normally I do not do much with this hardy evergreen groundcover but last year our winter was brutal and I lost many plants and vegetation due to extreme cold weather and ice.

This year I attended to my ajuga plants by removing all of the weeds and wild grasses that were growing too close and then I applied Scotts Organics NatureScapes red mulch around the creeping bugleweed.

Ajuga puts out runners and you do want to cover up the runners. It is best to allow space in between the plants leaves and stems. This mulch will protect the roots that grow close to the soil surface. It will also protect the plants from becoming uprooted when snow or ice starts to melt.


Here are some photographs of my ajuga gardens:




Did you know that ajuga is one of the top 10 hardy groundcovers?  Learn more about ajuga by viewing this YouTube video

Scotts Organics NaturesScapes Mulch Review


Today I went to Lowe's garden center to buy Scotts Organics NatureScapes Advanced Sierra Red Mulch. I used this mulch in the spring this year and really liked it and is my new favorite garden mulch.

What I like about the Scotts Organics mulch is that it does not fade under the hot sun. 

Yard and Garden Secrets
Here is a photo of my summer black-eyed Susan garden. I applied three layers of mulch and it naturally preventing weed growth. Which saved me time and effort, because I did not have to go out weekly to spot check the gardens for weeds or annoying crabgrass.

Another benefit is that this mulch holds the water and released it into the soil when needed. I did not have to water my gardens daily throughout the hot summer months and the container garden plants did not wilt in the afternoon.


So today I mulched my flower gardens with 3 layers of the Scotts organics Sierra red mulch and this extra layer of mulch will protect my flower gardens from ice and snow this winter.

View this tutorial video on applying mulch to enhance the beauty of your garden.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Trash to Treasured Patio Light

The trash to treasure trellis was recycled into accent lighting for my patio and considering the total cost for this light was $0.00 I feel good about recycling the trellis that I found buried under a heap of leaves and dirt in the woods.
They always say that one mans trash is another mans treasure and while I’ve never been able to say that I recycled a great find until now. I found while clearing the land next to my yard a metal trellis that had been buried under a layer of dirt. The trellis appeared to be decades old, it was rusted and bent but had pretty scroll work and I pulled it out, wiped It off and thought I can recycle this.
When I got back to the house I gave the trellis a good cleaning with a wire brush to remove the dirt and the rust. Then I washed it off with hot water and dawn dish soap before letting it dry in the sun. Once dry I spray painted with black rustoleum, both sides. When paint was dried I checked to see if additional paint was needed and to be on the safe side I gave the trellis two coats.
The trellis dried quickly, then it was time to decorated it with a strand of led white Christmas lights. I secured the strand of lights onto the trellis with plastic zip ties. When attaching lights to the trellis was completed I propped it up in the corner of my patio, ran an outdoor extension cord to the outlet and set it on a timer.





Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Decorating Ideas for Outdoor Living Space

I have taken on a DIY project to remodel my outdoor living space which is my sun porch that is protected from the weather.  Basically I have painted the exterior walls a warm beige and accented the trim with a creamy vanilla paint color.  My outdoor furniture is all-weather white wicker with a hunter green seat cushions.  I choose these colors because they are complimentary to a garden setting.

So I have set the stage for my sun porch and going forward I will know what colors will compliment the room.

Here is a patio set that I created at Polyvore that will show you how festive Christmas country theme pillows look on a patio sofa.  I also added a variety of accessories and potted and decorated Christmas tree.


 My accessory ideas consist of green Christmas tree throw pillows, sofa throw blanket, serving tray for beverages or to hold a variety of tumbler size balsam Yankee candles, coordinating beverage coaster, soft lighting for the corner table, and an outdoor area rug would be perfect.

Here are some country style throw pillows and fleece blankets that I found that I think will compliment my outdoor seating area. As long as I apply a scotchgaurd they will be fine as my sum porch is covered.






In addition to these home decorating accessories I thought I would accent the sun porch with  live Christmas trees that are planted in containers.  Then I could decorating these trees with lights and non breakable ornaments and these trees would look so pretty especially during the Christmas holidays when guest gather for conversation at our outdoor living space.

I have many decorating ideas for my outdoor living space and think when the accessories are added to the sun porch and the colors are balanced that this area  will be a cozy winter holiday retreat.


















Stocked up on End of Season Spring Bulbs at Lowe's

The other day I was quite pleased with my spring bulb purchase that I had gotten at Lowe's nursery center. I thought the 40 medium sized dutch master daffodils were a great buy consider I paid under $10. for them. Then this morning I went to Lowe's to shop for some pet safe ice melt and a new snow shovel and saw while I was there that the spring bulbs were all on sale for 25 % off.

Needless to say I felt like I was in chocolate candy store and did not waste any time in selecting bags of spring bulbs; daffodils, crocus, paper whites, tulips and hyacinths to name a few.

While some people may think it is too late to plant since much of the US is presently bitter cold with snow in the forecast.  Thus weather will prevent many gardens from planting bulbs in the ground.  

I will store these spring bulbs in a wood box in my root cellar that is covered with dry peat moss until early spring and then plant in container gardens for clients or my personal garden.



Today was a great day for shopping at Lowe's home improvement store and I am so glad that I checked out the spring bulb section in the garden center.

Here is a YouTube video that will show you how to store daffodils.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Plants That add Interest to Winter Gardens

Normally after a hard frost I will go out and cut back my plants in my garden however some plants I leave because they will provide interest through out the winter months.
Fountain grass in winter

The dried ornamental grass plumes as they add not only interest but also movement in the garden. I also find that the seed heads from the autumn joy sedum. Black-eyed Susan’s and the dried hydrangea flowers look eye appealing during the winter season.
Dried Hydrangea Flowers in in late fall

What I usually do is leave these garden plants alone throughout the winter months and then cut them back in early spring.

After a hard frost after I clean up the garden (cut back all other plants)  I will apply a layer of cypress mulch around the stems of the plants that I am leaving for winter interest.  This year I am using  Scotts nature scapes mulch in the color of red for winter because it is a nice contrast.

Here is a YouTube video that will show you how beautiful grasses look in winter.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Admiring my November Garden

Looking out my picture window I can see hardy copper, red and purple coleus, white inpatients and purple wandering jew plants that are full, healthy and covered with new leaves and blooms. These annual flowers when grown with perennial ornamental grasses and other plants really make my November garden look nice and all of my neighbors when they walk past my house compliment me on my late in season flower gardens.
red coleus garden: http://pixabay.com/en/red-coleus-flowers-garden-plants-60836/

Know that my plants usually are not this healthy, in fact if the summer heat did not kill them then the first cold night in fall would. I am really thankful that I took a chance with spray n grow because this product feeds my garden plants and flowers with micronutrients which are vitamins for your plants.

Here is a photograph postcard that I created from one of my fall garden photographs.  I think you will agree that the November garden plants look amazing.  I know it is not due to my green thumb.  I am certain it is due to the spray-n-grow garden product that I used to feed my plants.


Getting Ready to Plant Daffodils

Today while shopping at Loews garden center I picked up 40 daffodils Dutch master bulbs for $9.99 and I intend on planting them in my garden this afternoon.  

My husband was surprised that I bought the bulbs because I usually only buy from the nursery where I can pick the bulbs up, feel them for soft spots, inspect for mold, or shop online at respectable landscape nurseries.  But today I took a chance at buying prepackaged daffodils.



Granted it took some time for me to find a package of bulbs that I liked.But after I checked several packages I did find a package of 40 daffodils bulbs.  

So after this post I will be heading outdoors to plant daffodils today in the back garden the is located next to the garden path.  This garden is viewed from my picture window; a perfect location for the mid spring blooms. 

I will also be adding a few mid spring blooming daffodils bulbs to my kitchen window-box.  The flowers will look so pretty when they bloom and I can gaze out at them while doing the dishes. 

Transplant Sweet Autumn Clematis

I transplanted some sweet autumn clematis vines so they would grow my privacy fence the runs down my driveway. I thought the vines would look pretty in the fall when the white flowers bloomed. I also liked the idea of looking out the kitchen window at the pretty star shaped white flowers and thought it would be fun to watch the hummingbirds, honey bees and butterflies that enjoy sipping nectar from this flower.

The green leafy vine grew up the wood privacy fence quickly and this week the flowers bloomed. Now this part of the yard smells sweet like vanilla and when I open the kitchen the scent fills the room.

If your fall is mild the clematis will continue to bloom until a frost.  Today is November 8th and my clematis still has pretty white blooms.  

In the late fall the seed heads will appear. That is when I remove the seeds and put them in a trash bag to throw out. This particular clematis can become invasive if you do not remove the seeds and prune after the flowers bloom. 

Tips for growing: Clematis is drought tolerant and grows well in full sun to part shade. I add a layer of mulch around the stems and feed with miracle grow bloom booster in mid August and always get prolific blooms throughout the fall season.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Flowers Blooming in My Garden: Photo Gallery

Even thought the weather has changed and the evenings have been dipping into the low thirties there are still flowers blooming in my gardens. These white, yellow and pink flowers add interest and are also eye appealing.
Sweet Autumn clematis 
 
Today I awoke to find that the change in temperature has caused the autumn leaves to fall from the trees onto the garden beds.  These golden and red leaves make a nice background for the burgundy and yellow Chrysanthemums and magenta and salmon colored Four O clock flowers.
Yellow daisy like Chrysanthemums 

Other autumn wild flowers are blooming in the woods that is adjacent to my home; delicate white flowers of the sweet autumn clematis, goldenrod and then a compact weed has delicate white flower clusters that look so pretty. I noted a few lavender phlox type flowers blooming along the trail and thought this flower would be lovely if grown in masses.
Flower blooming in the woods along nature path


I suspect that these flowers will continue to bloom until there is a hard frost, hoping that does not occur any time soon.  I hope you enjoyed the  photographs of the autumn flowers that are blooming in my yard and gardens. 


What flowers are blooming in your yard?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Early Fall Yard Work: Trimming Grass / Brush

For the last three days my husband and I have been working together to clean up the yard and gardens.  The weather is cooler and we find is agreeable when working long hours in the yard. 
Trim grasses around pavestone and stepping stones


Husband has been using our greenworks chainsaw and pole to trim the tree branches and I have been using the 10 amp string trimmer to clean up the tall grass growing next to the garden edgestones, and along the rock wall.  

This trimmer is light weight so I could use it easily to get close to the base of the rock wall and cut down the tall grass. Cleaning up the wall will discourage snakes from wanting to winter in the crevices.

When the overgrowth by rock wall was cut back I moved to the side yard to trim the tall grass growing up against the dog pen.  In order to get this grass I needed to stand on a large limestone rock and lean up hill.  If I had used the gas trimmer I would be really sore right now, but the greenworks is light and I could get the trimming done without feeling discomfort.

Next on my list was to work on the evasive vines that were choking out the blackberry and raspberry bushes, so I got busy in removing the wild sweet autumn clematis.   When I get the vines removed I will use my trimmer to cut back the grass and brush growing around the berry bushes and then remove clippings with rake. 

There is a lot of work that needs to be done during early falls and I am thinking that I will need two more days to get every section manicured.  Then I can relax on the patio and enjoy looking out at a well maintained yard and garden.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gardening to Relieve Stress: Great Therapy

In my desire to rid my body of stress I put on my gardening gloves and went outdoor to do some hand pulling of weeds in the flower garden.  Being outdoors and being productive is a good way to cleanse your body of any negative energy and anxiousness.

While I was gardening I could watch the birds at the ground feeder and in the distance I saw groundhog posing on the river rock.   The garden was alive with wildlife and with biting bugs which I found took away from the good feelings I was getting from the garden.

My garden after a day of removing weeds

Whenever I perspire it seems the gnats go for my eyes and they are aggravating.  I sprayed myself with deep woods off before going outdoors but I do not spray my face.  So I went and got my protective glasses that I wear when I am painting or doing other home improvement projects.  The glasses worked but then my ankle felt itchy and sure enough there was a tick crawling on me.

The bugs in the garden were going against my stress free therapy so I went to the shed to look for the natural pest control that I got at amazon.com and found that the mosquito and other biting insects barrier was empty so I went inside and put some diatomaceous earth food grade in a powder sugar shaker and then went back to the garden to dust the gardens with the natural pest control.
Diatomaceous earth food grade safely rids garden of biting bugs
 
Normally it takes 20 minute for the DE food grade to kill any ticks, fleas, chiggers, mites and ants that may be lurking in the garden.   By tomorrow morning the garden pest will be gone and I can resume my gardening therapy to get rid of stress.


I really love gardening especially when I need to overcome stress or feeling of anxiousness, but hate when the bugs bite me and make me feel itchy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gardening in the Heat of the Summer

Now that the peak heat of the summer is here I make a point to get up at dawn so that I can get whatever yard or garden work completed.  During this time I can weed the gardens, deadhead the flowers and water the plants.  However I need to wait a few hours to use any of my electric or gas operated garden tools. 
Watering lilac shrub in summer

I was going to use the electric grass trimmer to manicure around the flower gardens but decided to hold off on this project until next week when weather will be 20 degrees cooler. At 9:00 this morning the temperature was 89 degrees and I thought it was too hot.

Other than that maintaining the garden, I find it is a full time job to keep the container and specialty gardens hydrated. The plants get a good watering in the am with a soaker hose but come noon the top soil in containers and garden beds looks like dust.  So I am outdoors again in the late afternoon to water the hosta, coleus and fern plants because the heat of the summer is causing them to feel stress.
Cosmo flower like hot weather
Zinnia flowers grow best in hot sun


The only plants in my garden that are flourishing are the zinnias, cosmos and four O'clocks. These heat seeking plants are producing multiple flowers and the plants do not bolt when the summer weather gets hot.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Transplanted Herb Plants During Growing Season



A couple days ago I transplanted my indoor herbs into outdoor containers because they were not doing so good indoors and thought the natural sunlight would do them good.  Plus I like the way fragrant herbs repel mosquitoes, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. 

When I transplanted the herbs it was on a cloudy and cool day but today the weather had changed it is extremely hot.  Of course this means I need to take extra steps to prevent the outdoor herb plants from stress.

Read the first post about these herbs here transplanting kitchen herbs to outdoor garden

Anything planted in a container will dry out quickly and if you water the plant in the morning by midday when the sun is hot the soil with dry out.  Normally when I check with my index finger the soil is dry an inch down after a hot day. 

To prevent dry soil I generally water in the morning at the soil level until the water drains from the holes on the bottom of the container.

Applying mulch is good also as long as you do not put the mulch close to the herb stem.  Mulch is great because it absorbs the water and then releases moisture back into the soil slowly. A mulch that I use and recommend is nature scapes advanced garden mulch by Scotts  I bought this brand mulch at lowes.com, had watched sales and got a good buy on 2 cubic feet..

What I like about this mulch is that it retains the water and slowly releases it back into the soil which means you will not need to water your flower or herb gardens daily.  On average you will save up to 30% on your water bill.  Plus you will save time and energy because you won’t need to water garden daily.

When I get home from work I will need to check on the newly planted herb plants and will mist the leaves and stems with the garden hose because this will prevent them from wilting.

The best way to care for any newly transplanted herb in the growing season is to make sure the soil does not dry out. Keeping it evenly moist but not wet will ensure that the roots will take hold and the plant does not get stressed out.


Also helpful when transplanting during the growing season is to use Green Light organic root simulator.  I would not dream of putting a plant in the ground  without a root simulator.  I have bought the green light product at amazon.com and am pleased with it.

Here is a great way to keep the plant sauce full of water, thus the plant roots will never dry out.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Season Gardening Checklist

Now that spring has come to an end, I find that I need to get my garden ready for summer. Today I went into the garden with a clipboard so I could make a checklist.   

Before I knew it my list was two pages long and I knew by looking at the lists of tasks that I would need my husband  help to get the gardens manicured and ready the summer season.

My yard and garden checklist:

  1. Cut back spent flower blooms
  2. Remove all weeds and grasses from flower gardens by doing a hand pull
  3. Prune spring blooming shrubs
  4. Cut back overgrowth on trees
  5. Plant zinnia flower seeds 
  6. Update Moroccan tile planter gardens with heat seeking petunia wave flowers or sun loving herbs
  7. Add a thick layer of organic mulch to all gardens, around shrubs and trees
  8. Use vinegar solution to kill weeds growing in garden paths and flagstone patio
  9. Remove spring tree droppings from gutters
  10. Control yard and garden pests; mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and chiggers with organic pest control; garlic or Diatomaceous  Earth food grade.
  11. Add outdoor accessories and patio lights to make the yard and garden more appealing
Note: A good way to get garden jobs done is to divide the yard into sections, then complete one section before moving on to the next one.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Preventing Bug Bites While Gardening

My side yard hosta garden
If I was ever going to enjoy the garden again I knew I would have to  take steps to prevent the bugs from biting me.  This year the biting bugs; mosquito, chiggers, ticks and fleas  have taken the fun out of gardening. Two days ago while doing a hand pull in my hosta garden I was bitten by, several bugs.

I was so itchy that I stopped what I was doing and ran inside to take a hot shower with Yardley of London antibacterial hand soap, flowering English lavender herbal scent.  The hot soapy shower killed the germs and safely removed the roaming chiggers from my skin and lessened itchy mosquito and other bug bites.

Normally I spray myself before going out to garden with deep woods off but I know that with the wildlife; deer, raccoon, skunk, wild turkey, groundhog, coyote and bobcat coming into my yard that there are probably other biting bugs lurking.

I decided to address the bugs in my yard and garden by treating my entire yard with a concentrated garlic formula that will safely kill and repel mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, chiggers and some wildlife from my yard. I found an all-natural product at amazon.com MOSQUITO BARRIER – LIQUID SPRAY REPELLENT -1 GALLON.  I read the reviews and they were favorable plus I liked that it was natural 100% garlic and would not harm my family or my pets.

Granted this organic pest control costs more but I will tell you it is worth it.  There is a garlic smell and it is potent but the smell is what repels and kills the biting bugs and you get used to it.

There are other mosquito solutions to consider if you would like to learn more then check out my article How to Prevent Mosquitoes in Your Yard | Pest Control | FireHow.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gardening Today: Cutting back Brush

Yard and Garden Secrets/Iris garden clean up
Gardening today took me to the side yard where there was a lot of underbrush as well as low hanging trees limps that needed to be trimmed. 

For this project I needed my rose trimming gloves.  I found a pair of Terra Professional rose gloves at Amazon.com that I really like because these rose gloves protect my hands and my lower arms from cuts and scratches.  When I have my hands in brush you never know what you will find and the wild roses will really hurt if you don’t protect yourself.

Then to tackle the tough weeds and tall grass that was growing under the shrubs I used my Black & Decker 14inch curved shaft electric string trimmer.  This trimmer does a good job at taking down the overgrown brush.  When it comes to manicuring the yard I don’t mind doing the trimming as long as I do not have to use a gas operated trimmer.

Garden Boots
Whenever I take on big projects I always wear safety glasses because my trimmer might hit a rock and push it back into my face and that would not be good. I also wear a thick weave jean or khaki pant that is tucked into my garden boots.  

It is best to dress for this garden clean up job because of the snakes, rodents and other garden pests.  It’s a good idea to spray your clothing with deep woods off to prevent chigger and tick bites.

I went out early to clean up the yard and it was completed by noon.  Now all that needs to be done is my husband to follow up with trimming back the low hanging branches by the chain link fence as they are growing in to thick and blocking the sunlight. 

I am glad the brush is cut back because while working I found mole holes.  I had some scoot mole repellent in the garage so I used the garlic and Castor oil concentrated treatment and sprayed the surrounding area by attaching my hose to the formula. The moles will move on now that I used a safe for the environment repellent.

Other garden cleanup posts by Author:


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pavestone Adds Definition to Flower Garden

Today I am working on my side flower garden and decided to make it more interesting so I added 12-inch pavestone and also a pea gravel boarder. 

My husband had some stones leftover from a retaining wall that he did and I thought that the stone would add definition to my lily garden.  (See photo above).  The curving stone wraps around the lilies until it meets with the pea gravel path.

I thought about doing two layers of stone but thought that the one layer was fine.  I like the way the stone breaks up the garden. This is an easy way to add definition and also make the flower garden more eye appealing

For this garden project I used a 12 inch pavestone retaining wall cement block that we bought at Home Depot for $1.78.  This cement block also looks good as a tree ring and outdoor fireplace ring.

See in this photo how I added a ring of pavestone cement retaining wall blocks around a host garden.  I think that you will agree that it is a great way to accent your garden.
Pavestone cement wall block around hosta garden
View other photographs of pavestone cement retaining wall block projects here: