Create A Stimulus Package For Your Yard

yard package 300x263 Create A Stimulus Package For Your YardIt’s no secret that the economy is taking a toll on our spending practices and limiting the amount of cash we have to throw to the four winds, but there are great ways to reinvest in your yard that will save you hundreds of dollars in the coming seasons! From creating your own topsoil and fertilizer, to saving money on vegetables and flowers by growing your own from seeds, here is my top 10 list of useful items that comprise my “Yard Stimulus Package,” guaranteed to help you save money in 2009, and give you a healthier and more beautiful yard by 2010.

1. A Yard Composter.  In 2009, eliminate the need for commercial fertilizer, top soil and potting mix by composting yard and household waste.  You can recycle your way to a healthier lawn and garden (even a balcony garden) by saving lawn clippings, leaves, branches, and uneaten food, and layering in in a compost system or a homemade compost bin. Try either a traditional upright composter, or a spinning Composter Create A Stimulus Package For Your Yard to quicken the process. For apartment dwellers, try this odorless indoor composting system specifically designed to fit inside an average kitchen cabinet!

2. A Kitchen Counter Composter: A quick and easy way to save your kitchen scraps until you are ready to add them to a full sized composter, this little crock comes in several colors, uses an odor eliminating filter built into the lid, and blends in with any kitchen decor. It’s a great way to store and collect food scraps near your sink, and works well as a visual reminder that will increase the likelihood that you’ll compost and recycle more food waste, and put less into the landfill! It’s a great tool to have, and makes a great gift too for the gardener in your life.  Check it out as another money saving way to increase your yard and garden’s overall sustainability.

3.  Grass Seed:  There have been many advancements in the quality of grass seed available on the market in the past few years. Much of the seed available now has been specifically bred for drought tolerance, disease resistance, rapid root growth, and low-maintenance care requirements.  Lawns 10 years old and older can benefit the most from over-seeding, and can be revitalized by the introduction of a stronger grass crop. Nurturing new varieties of grass in your lawn can make a big difference in your lawns overall appearance, health, and time requirements, making a long term difference in the curb appeal of your home, with a small price tag attached.

4.  Loose Seed Packets:  Seed packets are inexpensive, costing only about 1-2 dollars each, and yet almost every variety of fruit, vegetable, or flower is available to you inside one of these valuable pouches. The trend to grow more food at home has caused a boom in seed production, and now is a great time to reduce your reliance on the big box garden store’s plant selection, and branch out on your own. A home vegetable patch can save you hundreds of dollars a year as produce prices rise, and it allows you the luxury of knowing that your food has been grown in an organic fashion. With this ‘stimulating’ idea, you can grow 15 times the plants you could afford for the price of one mature plant at the garden center.

4.  Seed Starting Trays:  A great way to save money is through “starting” your seeds indoors, before transferring your plants out into the yard or the vegetable patch. Seed Starting Trays are nurseries for your plants, and allow you to grow more plants away from the threat of frost, predation, or pests, and “start” repeat crops of vegetables and fruits in your home from spring through fall, increasing the amount of food you can harvest through the year. This inexpensive solution provides greater returns in viability than rough sowing into the garden soil, and often comes in biodegradable units that can be dropped into the soil for continued growing. Try a variety that comes with a greenhouse Create A Stimulus Package For Your Yard top to increase the ease of growing by keeping your juvenile plants moist. 

5.  Grow Lights:  Unless you are incredibly lucky, the amount of light available in your house needs supplementing in order to “start” your plants from scratch.  An adjustable grow light system is one of the easiest ways to provide for young plants, and can take up as little as a foot or two of your basement, or laundry area.  Grow lights maximize the number of plants you can grow in your nursery seed starting trays, and speeds the plant growth along in a much quicker fashion than through window light alone.  Look for products that can be adjusted in height to “grow” with your plants, and that work well with seed starting trays.  One of my favorite grow light systems is the Green Thumb Create A Stimulus Package For Your Yard variety, which consists of a low profile support scaffold that eliminates the need for wobbly grow light lamps or the running of electrical wires in your ceiling.  

6.  A Hori-Hori:  This is a great multi-purpose garden tool that everyone should add to their arsenal, especially those who garden in small spaces, and who can’t store a separate tool for every job.  One HORI HORI Create A Stimulus Package For Your Yard can replace a weeding tool, a hand spade, an all purpose knife, and a hand saw. It’s a specialty garden knife with one serrated edge, and one blade edge, that you can use for digging, planting, prying, weeding, trimming roots, dividing plants, and generally looking like a badass with around the neighborhood.  I can’t tell you how many ways I’ve been able to use mine around the home and garden, and highly recommend it as a money and time saving tool to get you out of tight spots while you are working in the yard. 

7.  A Seed Harvesting Bible:  Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners Create A Stimulus Package For Your Yard, is a manual to motivate and instruct you on the best ways to grow and harvest both the vegetables themselves, and this years crop of seeds for storage and use next year.  This book will help you trouble-shoot the pitfalls of gardening from the seed onward, and help you achieve a sustainable garden plan in 2009 after your first crop. Having the right information is crucial to the success of an organic or sustainable gardening, and this book will help you maximize the return on the money you spend on just one years worth of seeds.

8. A Rain Barrel:  Forty percent of the water used by the average American in the summer is used outdoors on the lawn and garden! Reduce your water bills by using a rain barrel Create A Stimulus Package For Your Yard to capture up to 95 gallons of free rain water for use on your lawn or garden.

9.  A Pot Maker:  A pot maker Create A Stimulus Package For Your Yard is not only “Becky-Home-Ecy” friendly, but it’s also a great way to recycle your newsprint and paper garbage into seedling pots for your flower and vegetable garden.  Creating your own pots is a great alternative to purchasing seed starting trays, and can provide you with eco-friendly, ground-ready planters for all of your young seedlings.  These are a great money saving gadget for the committed gardener!

10.  Plant Markers:  No stimulus package would be complete without plant labels with which to mark off you plants either before you plant them or after.  Particularly useful when starting your seeds indoors, or when “companion planting,” these will help you identify where each plant is in the early stages of its development.  Use simple Popsicle sticks, or fancy brass or porcelain markers, but make sure to label your young plants so you remember to provide each one with the proper attention, and pruning that it desires, to maximize your crop.

 

With the items in this Stimulus Package you can turn your yard or garden area into a beautiful, money saving and productive area in 2009.  These are my top picks to help you stretch your money in the coming seasons, and now it’s your turn!  What are some of your money saving gadgets around the yard?

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...]

Tips to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden, Yard or Patio

img 0067 300x225 Tips to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden, Yard or PatioWhile butterflies may not be the most important or efficient pollinators (in terms of how much work they can accomplish in a garden), they can easilly be one of the most visually beautiful and enjoyable creatures in your garden. If you like seeing a multitude of these beauties in your garden, there are a few simple tricks you can do to secure a long term stay of summer butterflies around your yard. I’ve picked up a lot of little tricks while creating several “Backyard Habitats,” and this is the first tip I want to share with you!

Once mating season begins for the male butterflies, their life is one completely centered around finding mates, and perching to rest before looking for more mates! Male butterflies can scent an eligible female from a distance of up to one mile, and will expend most of their energy searching for and securing mates. While females generally mate once, males mate many times. In areas where males are few, they may exhaust themselves satisfying the local female population who become more aggressive in their need to reproduce, once they sense the lack of healthy partners. One of the keys to attracting pollinators (and butterflies in general) is plant selection. You want to build inviting areas for nectar drinking, perching, and hopefully egg laying. To create an area that attracts those busy male butterflies, provide an area that will meet the needs of the females, while creating a place that the male can relax and restock on the nutrients he is losing in the mating process.

The two most important steps to take for attracting male butterflies to your pollinator garden are this:

  1. Provide a separate water source that is protected from birds. Either a short bird bath, a ceramic dish, or a pot’s catch basin will suffice. A quiet water source for these busy creatures will become a basking location, and a place for a quick drink in between all the nectar sipping. Nectar does not meet most of the nutritional needs of butterflies, so males generally congregate around the edges of ponds and streams to drink and absorb the important minerals contained in the sand and soil, that they need to keep up their energy. You can provide this nutritional necessity for them in your yard, to complete your butterfly haven, and to secure long term visitation of the male.
  2. Provide a sandy spot, or an artificial stream bed in your yard for the males to absorb the minerals and nutrients lost in their exertions. Sand can be transported from a local stream to your yard, or it can be purchased cheaply at your local garden center. What I have done in the past is to buy a bag of sand, and to fill a large aluminum cookie tin with it. I place the cookie tin in the ground, with the lip of the tin, and the sand roughly at mulch, or dirt level. Male butterflies have never failed to approach these areas to rest, and revive after a hard days work. I have found also that an excellent side benefit to having an artificial stream bed, is an increased ability to photograph butterflies here, since they are finally holding still!


For a little lite reading on butterfliles, and their nutritional information, here’s a great resource I’ve found!

Your thoughts: Do you have any tried-and-true secrets to attract butterflies to your yard or patio? Do you have any favorite photographs of butterflies that you have taken in your garden or yard? If so, please send them my way! You can email me at greengardenista@gmail.com. I will post any pictures that I receive on a special “Garden Wildlife” feature coming soon to Green Gardenista!