Spot Treating With Natural Vinegar Weed Killer

2704854024 58f9a1d93e 300x220 Spot Treating With Natural Vinegar Weed Killer

We all want to try to reduce our impact on our local environment, and here is one way to tackle your weeds with household vinegar, and eliminate toxic run-off from your yard.

White Vinegar can be purchased cheaply at any local grocery store, and it can kill a variety of weeds in your yard.  The USDA has done experiments for several years with experimental home-remedies, in the search for cleaner herbicide solutions. Their research led them to find that early spring weeds like Dandelions, and Thistle are vulnerable to straight Vinegar solutions in their first few weeks of growth when their tissue is still soft. While the majority of store bought vinegar is effectually a diluted version of true vinegar, even the “straight from the bottle” application to broadleaf weeds, and thistles is effective in killing them quickly in the spring, root and all. Late spring and summer applications may need multiple treatments, as the plants toughen and prepare for reproduction, and hot weather, so any use of straight vinegar should be applied to your yard early for real impact.

Apple Cider Vinegar, and White Vinegar can be mixed in gallon form with a variety of other household items like soap, table salt, water, and alcoholic beverages to make a more potent and environmentally safe weed killer for late season weeds.  Adding a cup of salt to a gallon of vinegar, and a small squirt of dish soap can create a valuable spray weed killer.  Not all vinegar recipes will kill the tough roots of a plant, but most will, and this DIY approach to weed killing has the effectiveness of Round-UP, killing anything it is sprayed on.  Use Vinegar carefully around turf grass, and plants that you want to keep.

Looking for more DIY Vinegar weed control recipes?  Read The Garden Counselor website for lawn and garden advice, and pick up a few great ideas of your own!

Photo courtesy of:mollypop

Should I Mulch Around My Irises?

img 0063 225x300 Should I Mulch Around My Irises?

Do not mulch around your Irises no matter what you do with your other garden plants.

Irises are great low maintenance plants, and many times you can literally set them and forget them with little to no work involved. The one thing Irises do not like is to have their rhizomes covered. The large rhizomes the plant springs from should remain exposed, looking like little flat potatoes (or ginger root) on top of the soil. Mulching plants like Irises, who like to have their rhizomes exposed can not only reduce the plants reproductive capabilities, eliminating any new plants from forming, but it can also smother the plant itself.

What Are Those White Things In Potting Soil?

3306949169 d2966ac088 225x300 What Are Those White Things In Potting Soil?

If you’ve ever planted something in the store-bought potting mixes, you’ve inevitably asked yourself this question.

What Is It?

The irregularly shaped white pieces that comprise half of most potting mixes is what is called “perlite.”  Perlite is a naturally occuring volcanic glass that is mined all over the world for industrial purposes, as well as for hydroponic farming, and horticulture purposes.  It is considered a silicous rock formation, and formed containing a large percentage of water.  Mining companies that harvest the rock heat the rough chunks of perlite in super heated ovens, causing the perlite, and the water within them, to expand up to 20 times and expload into tiny pieces. The tiny pieces are what we find commonly in most commercial potting soil mixes.

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Why Did Only Half My Forsythia Bloom?

3139028770 c77f75dd7b o 300x225 Why Did Only Half My Forsythia Bloom?The Forsythia blooms are now almost completely gone across the USA, leaving the roadside gardens a light hue of green as leaves fill in their place – and a few gardeners perplexed as to why only half the bush bloomed yellow this year.  

If you are like many gardeners, your bush may be the picture of health, with branches showing healthy foliage buds, or even full leaves by this time.  If your Forsythia is healthy, and simply skipped putting out yellow blooms with several branches skipping right to the foliage stage, you have a bush that has been pruned within the past year, and that needs maturation before flowering.

Forsythia plants blooms on old wood, and branches need at least a full year of growth before they will produce flowers.  If you do annual shaping on your bush, try to trim the plant back to the same approximate place every year, to encourage a uniform bloom, and overall shape. After a few years of trimming, your bush should reach a full appearance, and will bloom throughout the plant. 


Photo Courtesy of: Arielle*

Refurbished Tools Make A Great Green Gift For Spring Projects

3097850219 602c6e52a6 300x300 Refurbished Tools Make A Great Green Gift For Spring Projects

Earth Day is over, but buying refurbished tools for your lawn and garden project list is a great green way to aquire the tools you need, recycled and as good as new, right from the factory!

Whether you are looking for a new drill and bit set to help you put together your own raised garden bed walls, or want a new set of hedge trimmers, the folks over at “One Project Closer” have been helping DYI-ers around the house and yard for about a year now, and they have a great go-to list of manufacturer refurbished tool sales around the internet.  Many of the tools come with a full warranty, and are up to 50% less than what you would pay for a brand new tool, which helps your wallet, and is a more eco-friendly way to purchase your tools.  

Check out their article, and see if you can’t find the tools you need to complete your spring projects for a steal.


Photo Courtesy of: Robert S. Donovan 

Happy Earth Day!

2926019659 b1403382ac 300x216 Happy Earth Day!

Some people make New Year’s resolutions, I make Earth Day resolutions. Every Earth Day I resolve to learn at least one useless fact about the natural world that I didn’t know before, in the hopes that I will become the well rounded person that my grandparents earnestly prayed that I would become. The jury is still out on how useful this fact is, but it’s quite possibly memorable – which is always an added benefit!

Earth Day 2009′s Useless Fact: Wood Duck babies are the only birds known to talk with each other while still in their eggs; egg to egg, and egg to mom, while in the last stages of growth before hatching! (Go ahead…. group “Awww” everybody)

I spent much of today working at a celebratory Earth Day  fair, splitting my time between manning my company’s booth, and visiting the other vendors, and local green volunteer organizations at their own display areas.

The past few years I’ve attended an Earth Day fair I’ve really enjoyed the variety of speakers, and organizations present there. As much as I like to learn something new every year about the environment, or a specific animal, I know that most of what makes this day of awareness great is that it isn’t just about    planting a tree anymore. Eco-fairs often stir something in me to find new products, services, or methods of building my garden craft, that are more responsible in their relationship with the environment.  Earth Day has become a bit of a New Years Day for me, and I see it as a day of inspiration to change one thing about gardening, or my daily life, that makes a difference over the course of time in the impact I have on the environment.

Last year my inspiration came from a local photographer, who’s nature photography was re-framed in second hand frames, and who’s photos now grace my wall.  This year, while there were great garden vendors in attendance, I was drawn to a home-made cosmetics company from my area that not only creates all natural make-up, soaps and perfumes, but that also runs their entire operation in a facility that uses 100% wind energy. I chatted with the owner and founder of the company, picked up a few items to try out, and am excited to include make-up as part of my green routine this year! Check out my post for a full review of Zosimos Botanicals coming up!

What about you: What did you find this year to excite and motivate you to toward living in a more “green” fashion?  What motivated you today to adapt your daily habits into something new?

Photo Courtesy of: roctopus

Native Landscaping Plant To Know: River Birch

img 0482 225x300 Native Landscaping Plant To Know: River Birch

The River Birch is a wonderful native North American Tree that won widespread recognition in 2002 as the “Tree of the Year” from several several national Arborist societies.  Easily found now in most local nurseries, this riverbed native is now a favorite as a street tree in urban settings because of it’s hardy nature, and drought tolerance.  River Birch are fast growing trees, that max out in height at about 50-70 feet tall over the course of about twenty years.  They provide excellent shade in the summer and fall months, and beautiful peeling bark through the winter that varies in shade from red, to peach, to purple.  

 What You’ll Love:  

This tree is remarkably resistant to Borer insects, and a wide variety of pests and diseases.  The peeling bark of the tree lends itself to softening the appearance of urban structures, and can add a woodsy appeal to a variety of yards. 

What It Gives Back To You And Your Yard:

River Birch is an excellent choice for areas that need erosion controlling plants, be it a hillside, or a stream bed area. These thrive in drainage swales, and moist areas on your property that may drowned or be too boggy down other garden plants. If you are looking for a fast growing shade tree this also makes a great choice, and can help you cut down those summer cooling bills when planted around a house.

What It Does For The Environment:

Aside from being a “greener” ecological alternative to foreign bred plants, this tree  provides food for deer, who eat low growing foliage, while the seeds of the plant attract songbirds.

For a great, easy care tree for your yard or local park, see if the River Birch will meet your needs, and you will be amazed at all it can give back to you.

Sowing A Harvest Of Trout

img 1366 300x199 Sowing A Harvest Of Trout

I grew up watching the Disney Sunday Movie, and the classic cartoons that proceeded them each week, and was reminded of an old “Humphrey The Bear” cartoon Thursday, when I spent a few minutes with a trout farmer who came to deliver his load of fish to stock one of my large corporate ponds.

The original cartoon involved a hapless bear’s efforts to fish successfully, but the part that I loved as a child was the forest rangers method of sowing fish seeds in giant water troughs for the beginning of fishing season.  If only trout were as easy aquire as the cartoon made them look – sprouting in eager rows in the fish hatchery! Fortunately my spring pond stocking is almost that easy, and a Virginia trout farmer was able to deliver about 260 golden and rainbow trout right to my door, and down into into the pond on a special chute.

It’s not plant related, but pond stimg 1364 2 150x150 Sowing A Harvest Of Troutocking is just one more sign that spring is here. Go in peace little Trout!

My Native Plant Spring Project

img 1326 My Native Plant Spring Project

I’ve been a little antsy for warm weather to start for some time, and this year I’ve converted a baker’s rack in my office at work into a greenhouse nursery for native plants to help me get a jump start on some habitat restoration goals I set for myself! This spring and summer I’m growing five varieties of Maryland native wildflowers from seed to begin a new wave of improvements in naturalized spots that I safeguard – many of which are in desperate need of beneficial plants, and a few aesthetic points!

The two Maryland counties that I work in require all developing properties under construction to set aside a fraction of their land as either virgin woodland, or designated  Reforestation Area.  Most of these Reforestation Areas in the suburbs happen around the borders of communities, or around sewer water retention ponds, and walking paths. At the initial time of construction, landscape architects develop these areas and fill them with native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses, and after a few years of healthy growth many of them take on a rather scruffy natural patina that many people enjoy as a contrast to the manicured lawns and gardens nearby. Like other areas after construction, Reforestation Areas are sometimes stripped of topsoil in the building and creation phases of a neighborhood, and little other than grasses end up surviving in the fill-dirt left behind. I’ve been working on and around several pockets of protected reforestation land for several years, and trying to strike a balance the desires of homeowners who want to visually improve the areas with their own garden plants, and the state law, which requires zero human interference here, and it can be a difficult balance to strike.

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