Partial Shade Container Garden; Indoor Tropicals and Exterior Annuals

IMG 1851 768x1024 Partial Shade Container Garden; Indoor Tropicals and Exterior Annuals

When it’s warm outside, show your interior plants some love by giving them a little freedom!  Try mixing indoor plants with your exterior annuals, and building them into your container designs!  This happy cocophany of color and texture is a montage of interior and exterior leafy greens.

Ingredients:

  • Caladium
  • Spider Plant
  • Zebra Striped Wandering Jew, Zebrina pendula
  • Purple Heart Wandering Jew
  • Red and Green Coleus
  • Deep Purple Coleus
  • Moss Rose,  Portulaca Grandiflora
  • White Begonia

If you own most of these, try them together in a large container in a partially or fully shaded area. If you don’t own some of these indoor tropicals, pick up some of the Purple Heart, Zebra Wandering Jew, or Spider Plant, at your local home and garden store, and plan to move them indoors for the winter if necessary.  Using your indoor plants outside is a great way to check their root systems, and clean out their containers at the same time for fresh usage when it gets cool again!

And remember, Caladium bulbs can be cleaned and stored indoors for use next year if you expect a snowy winter.  Check out my article on getting more usage out of your Caladium plants.

IMG 1852 1024x1024 Partial Shade Container Garden; Indoor Tropicals and Exterior Annuals

Happy Gardening!

Adding “Architectural” Interest To The Garden With Concrete Moulding

IMG 2584 1024x768 Adding “Architectural” Interest To The Garden With Concrete Moulding

All gardens need focal pieces, and a friend named Enyo shared a few of her favorite pieces with me this week.

Enyo is lucky enough to travel the world with her husband due to his work with a popular architectural firm.  They’ve spent a few years off and on in a several different countries, and regions of the United States, and picked up some beautiful pieces of outdoor pottery, and concrete moulding along the way.  Her favorite garden accents are these re-claimed concrete moulding pieces from job sites that the firm was renovating. [Read more...]

More Tips on How To Keep Geese Off Your Yard and Pond

img 0218 300x225 More Tips on How To Keep Geese Off Your Yard and PondCanadian Geese are beautiful; but they are also messy, potentially aggressive, and capable of cleaning out your backyard pond of water plants in one or two afternoons. Not to mention potential damage to your lawn and gardens from the presents they leave behind!  The key to keeping geese out of your yard is in knowing the timetable when geese are the most mobile, and targeting them for harassment within that window of time, to discourage nesting behavior in a close proximity to you.

The Goose Calendar of Events

January and February, Geese are generally in their over-wintering areas, beginning to look for mates, and beginning the earliest migrations back to nesting grounds in late February. Canadian Geese spend the majority of March and April looking for the ideal nesting area, or returning to the specific place that they themselves were raised, and setting up a nest.  As part of their “imprinting,” geese will return to the area that they were hatched in, to see if there is enough room for a new nest there with their current mate.  If you have had problems with geese in the past, March is the best time to begin harassing any geese who show up on your property, to discourage nesting, and long summer stays. May and June are the months where goslings are the most likely to be present, and both parents, and goslings are incapable of flight until all flight feathers have grown back in, in July.  Occasionally, a mated pair will then begin a second nest, and raise a second family in late summer and early Fall.

Nesting

A Canada Goose pair will scout an area out for a few weeks before they will set up a nest.  Once you notice a solitary goose hanging around the property, you most likely already have a nest nearby, with the parents taking turns on the nest. The nest itself is lined with the parent’s “flight feathers,” a natural instinct that both ensures that the eggs are well insulated, and prevents the parents from leaving the eggs, or young goslings by flying away, therefor tying the fate of the parent goose in closely with the young.  The adults and the gosling will gain the ability to fly around the same time that the gosling grow their first batch of “flight feathers,” about 70 days from hatching.  It is also for this reason that geese are almost impossible to get rid of once they have goslings, and why it is imperative that a goose control regimen begin in early spring, when the adult goose is still mobile enough to evacuate your yard.

Geese are actually very intelligent animals, and often a few methods will be needed to encourage a mated pair to leave your area if it seems that they are dead set on living in your yard. One great alternative that has worked effectively is the “goose fence” but another idea that can work well with backyard water features and lawns is a simple rope trick I will talk about below. [Read more...]

Green Tips: Watering Your Lawn and Garden in the Summer

vstep background 300x167 Green Tips: Watering Your Lawn and Garden in the Summer

We all want a healthy lawn, but when the summer heat strikes, it may be hard to know how to achieve that end when it comes to proper watering.  We’ve all heard that ‘less can be more,’ but in lawn care, that adage has a different meaning.  Grass is, as a rule, a cool weather crop.  There are many varieties of grass that respond differently to heat, drought, and certain times of the year, and I will go into that at another time.  Today though I want to give you a few rules of thumb on how to assist your lawn through hot weather.

  1. Set your expectations realistically. Not every lawn can be a green carpet through the summer. There are varieties of grass that will go dormant in the summer sun (as part of their regular life cycle) no matter how often you water the area.  Most homeowners have lawns that were designed with a mixture of grass seeds in them, and none of these varieties of grass respond exactly the same as the others.  Often, when brown blades of grass are mixed in with green grassy areas it is simply what is known as “shedding.”  And as turf grass grows and spreads, it sheds it’s older blades. Decide for yourself whether the lawn is exhibiting signs of normal seasonal change, or if there is a greater problem in your lawn.
  2. Avoid watering your lawn in the summer between the hours of 10am and 5pm.  Each droplet of water on your lawn during peak sun hours can act like a magnifying glass on the grass, and fry the leaf tissue of the plant.  We all know what happens to ants under magnifying glasses, make sure you don’t do the same to your lawn.
  3. Remember that if you are running a sprinkler system, or an oscilating sprinkler from a hose, that much of the water you are applying will not make it into the soil, or stay there long, due to the evaporation effect present in hot weather.  Watering a section of lawn for anything less than 30 minutes of continuous spray, or sprinkling, is only hurting the grass, encouraging root systems to grow nearest the surface of the soil where they are the most vulnerable.  (In shady areas, grass will not need as much watering, so use your judgement when deciding if an area needs more water.)  Set a timer, to alert you as to when you will need to move your mobile sprinkler, if you need to water more than one section of grass.
  4. The ideal depth of saturation in soil for root growth is in the ballpark of 4-6 inches.  Generally speaking, this is a textbook recommended depth, but not a realistic number to keep in mind when watering your lawn with a goal of achieving it in one day, or even one week.  True moist soil will take a few weeks of repeated watering, although, as I hinted at one above, less can be more.  A few deep waterings, of 30 minutes per patch of grass, are better than daily sprinkles that do not penetrate the soil well, or daily waterings of one hour stretches at a time that create a runny soup of the soil, bogging the area down, or washing the soil’s nutrients down the road with the run-off water.
  5. For people with sprinkler systems, or those in the “Green business” I recommend tackling tough open areas (especially around new construction), exposed to a lot of sun with two waterings a day. One shift should be in the early morning, and one in the early evening (to allow for evaporation).  These shift waterings can both be about 30 minutes long, taking into account water loss from sprinkler heads, and the amount of ground each sprinkler head is covering.

Your thoughts:  Do you have any techniques you’ve successfully used to keep your lawn green and lush?

Garden Tip: DIY Deer Repellent with Dried Milk

dried milk 300x300 Garden Tip: DIY Deer Repellent with Dried MilkYou don’t have to go any farther than your grocery store to purchase a green, and low cost solution that will solve your deer problems with a handy deer repellent.  I for one believe that if a homeowner wants to grow Vegetables, Tulips, Hosta, or Hibiscus, that they should be able to, without having to errect an 8ft. fence around them!

Common powdered milk, when dusted on your garden will easily prevent deer from eating those treasures in your garden!  Like many of the more expensive (and potentially harmful) chemical treatments on the market today, dried milk renders a plant inedible, and scent deterring to deer.  Deer do not like the smell or taste of milk after they have been weaned, and routine dustings of this harmless grocery item on your plants will train deer to believe that what you are growing in your yard is not edible.

If you are having trouble with deer try this method out!  It works on flowers, shrubs, and sapling trees. Powdered milk won’t harm your plants, or deter pollinators from them, and its a cheap fix that you can stock up on the next time you are already planning a trip to the grocery store.

Your Thoughts: Have you found a unique home remedy that works on repelling deer?  Have you tried Powdered milk?  Let me know if you find this method works for you!

The Dobsonfly

dobsonfly21 The Dobsonfly

Like so many other summer night barbecues, the one I attended the other night was crashed by an unexpected nocturnal pest. This particular night though, the guest was over four inches long, and had a six inch wing span!

Falling into a category of giant bugs large enough to be one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Dobsonfly is one creepy bug guaranteed to clear your deck of guests in shear seconds!

Much to the alarm of the men grilling our dinner, this huge bug dropped out of the sky, and landed near them on the back of one of the deck chairs.  Never having seen anything like it, they quickly caged it under a lacrosse stick, and offered peeks of it to the rest of the guest as we arrived, to see if anyone could identify it.  Generally, the tomboy in me loves a bug identification challenge, and I gave a quick search on the usual online bug guides for ideas as to what the insect could be. When my initial guesses as to it’s species were wrong, my sister and a friend worked with me to herd the bug into a large piece of Tupperware, so I could have a pest expert I knew identify it for me.  It is with absolutely no regret that I tell you that the bug in Tupperware went directly into the freezer, to preserve it intact, until I could bring it to work with me for an ID!

[Read more...]