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Why Raising Ducks For The Garden Is A Great Idea | TakeSeeds.com

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Farm animals may not always seem like the obvious choice for backyards, but choosing ducks for the garden is less strange than you might think. Indeed, these creatures can turn out to be great companions and highly beneficial for your plot. You may already know that they are friendly, intelligent animals, but there’s a whole lot more to gain from having them around if you think you can find the space.

 Whether you are looking for novel ways to heighten your pest controls or just a novel way of acquiring fresh eggs, these are some of the most interesting animals you can add to your garden or yard. For anyone keen to enhance their wildlife garden potential, ducks are ideal. Find out why these fascinating birds can add to your gardening exploits. 

Are Ducks Good for Gardens?

Ducks in the garden can be a good investment, but be aware of what it takes to keep them safe and healthy. Raising backyard chickens is a pastime that has become very popular, but it can also be a problem in certain areas. Many animal rescues have seen a big uptick in abandoned birds as homeowners realized they had bitten off more than they could chew. The same could be said for ducks if you aren’t prepared. 

Still, if you are ready to take on a backyard animal, ducks are a great option. They can provide several benefits for a garden, as long as you do it right and realize that animals like these are a true commitment. They will depend on you for the rest of their lives, and they do need adequate space and resources to be truly happy.

(Image credit: Berpin / Getty Images)

Benefits of Ducks for the Garden

If you’ve been wondering ‘What are ducks good for?’ then rest assured there is a lot to recommend them. The first and most obvious reason for keeping ducks is that it’s fun. Domestic ducks can be great friends in the garden, keeping you company and providing entertainment. Beyond this benefit, consider these other reasons to raise ducks:

  • Ducks are a cleanup crew: Even when kept domestically, ducks forage for much of their food. For anyone looking for easy alternative ways to mow a lawn, ducks will help keep your grass trimmed in summer. They will also scoop up fallen fruit from trees and shrubs.
  • Easy feeding: Because they forage so much, you don’t have to feed ducks as much as you would a flock of chickens. They’ll just need regular pellet food for adequate nutrition and greens in winter when they cannot access grass.
  • Duck pest control: If you’re looking for an alternative natural pest control, look no further than a flock of ducks. They love to eat pests like snails and slugs. They’ll also eat grubs and larvae before they develop into adult pests.
  • An abundance of eggs: Like chickens, ducks will provide you with eggs, but there are some differences. Some people who are allergic to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs, which are richer in flavor. Depending on the breed, ducks can produce more eggs per year (and for more years) than chickens.

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Disadvantages of Ducks in the Garden

While ducks for the garden can be advantageous, there are downsides, too. As with any animal, ducks are a responsibility. They will depend on you for food, water and safety for the duration of their lives.

Most domestic duck breeds cannot fly more than a couple of feet, but they still need to be contained. Because they can’t fly much, a low barricade of about two feet (60cm) is adequate. They also need a predator-safe enclosure for nighttime.

While they eat grass, ducks don’t nibble on most garden plants. They will, however, eat any lettuce you are growing if left uncovered, as well as other greens. Also, if allowed to roam in a vegetable garden, their big, flat feet can damage seedlings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Duck Poop Good Fertilizer?

Ducks roaming your yard and garden will deposit rich, natural fertilizer everywhere they go. You might not want to collect it and use it elsewhere, but their droppings will add nutrients to the soil wherever they move around.

Will Ducks Eat My Garden?

Ducks don’t have a taste for most garden plants besides grass. The exceptions are vegetable greens (especially lettuce) and certain fruits like strawberries. Use barriers to keep them away from these areas to ensure your edibles are safe.

Do Ducks Eat Slugs?

Yes, ducks love to eat slugs and snails. They provide valuable and natural pest control in gardens.

Best Hydrangea By Zone – Find The Right One For Your Climate | TakeSeeds.com

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Hydrangeas are versatile shrubs that can thrive almost anywhere, including in most growing zones. These beloved bushes boast elegant blooms in a variety of colors and shapes. They also come in several sizes and growing habits, making hydrangeas suitable for many locations in the landscape.

With so many variables, it can be hard to find the right one for your space. But as any good gardener knows, cold hardiness is the final deciding factor. That’s why we’ve made it simple for you and compiled a list of the best hydrangeas by zone.

Whether you’re looking for the best heat tolerant hydrangeas or the best hydrangea for cold climates, we’ve researched which ones are ideally suited to your growing zone.

What Zone Do Hydrangeas Grow In?

Planting zones for different hydrangea varieties range from USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9. Some grow on new wood, some on old wood, and some grow on a combination of both.

This is important because if you live in a cold climate and plant a hydrangea that blooms on old wood, it will almost never bloom. So save yourself the heartache, the aggravation, and the money. Plant the right hydrangea for your hardiness zone.

Best Hydrangea by Growing Zone

Whether you’re looking for the best heat tolerant hydrangeas or the best hydrangeas for cold climates, here are the ideal varieties by hardiness zone:

Hydrangeas for Zones 3 and 4

Gardeners looking for zone 3 hydrangea varieties have the unique challenge of finding plants that can tolerate extremely cold winter temperatures down to -40 F (-40 C). Zone 4 reaches average winter temperatures down to -30 F (-34.4 C).

This means that zone 4 hydrangea varieties are largely the same as zone 3 options. Luckily, there are many different types of hydrangeas that can thrive in these harsh growing zones.

The best hydrangeas for cold climates are PeeGee hydrangeas and smooth hydrangeas. Both of these varieties bloom on new wood, so there’s no need to worry about freezing winter temperatures killing off flower buds.

(Image credit: Photo credit John Dreyer / Getty Images)

Panicle hydrangeas, also known as PeeGee hydrangeas, come in a wide array of colors, shapes, and sizes. ‘Quick Fire’ is a pretty panicle hydrangea with airy blooms that begin white then fade to dusty rose in late summer to fall.

Smooth hydrangeas, which are native to North America, are especially equipped to withstand the cold winters of zones 3 and 4. ‘Annabelle’ is a popular cultivar that provides a summer-long display of large, snowball-like blooms.

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Hydrangeas for Zone 5

If you’re looking to grow a hydrangea in zone 5, you have many more options than gardeners in zones 3 and 4. While average winter lows of -20 F (-28.9 C) still seem frigid, several hardy hydrangea varieties can tolerate those temperatures.

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Oakleaf hydrangeas, another North American native, are hardy to zone 5. Their long clusters of white blooms look beautiful in the late summer garden. And once the floral display is done, the show continues in fall when their large, oak-like leaves turn a deep blood red hue.

Hydrangeas for Zone 6

With winter temperatures that drop to -10 F (-23.3 C) on average, zone 6 gardeners still need to choose hardy hydrangea varieties to ensure reliable blooming.

Many bigleaf hydrangeas (hydrangea macrophylla) are technically hardy to zone 6, but depending on winter weather and planting location they may not bloom. Bigleaf hydrangeas planted closer to the house or in sheltered areas are more likely to bloom in this growing zone.

Your best bet for big blooms every year is a hardy panicle hydrangea. These are ideal zone 6 hydrangeas. And with so many cultivars to choose from you can find almost anything to suit your space, including hydrangea trees.

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‘Vanilla Strawberry’ is a common cultivar available in tree form. Blooms start out ivory then blush to bright pink as summer progresses.

Hydrangeas for Zone 7

Zone 7 gardeners can safely grow bigleaf hydrangeas with almost no worries about flower buds freezing over winter. For a classic look, go for the mophead hydrangea.

To get a nonstop display of beautiful blooms, try an Endless Summer hydrangea. These bushes bloom on both new and old wood, which means they are suitable for colder regions like zones 4-6 as well.

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‘BloomStruck’ is truly striking with huge clusters of blue to purple flowers or magenta blooms, depending on soil pH. With above average heat tolerance as well as winter hardiness, it is the perfect zone 7 hydrangea.

Hydrangeas for Zone 8

There are many zone 8 hydrangea varieties that gardeners in warmer climates can add to their landscapes. One lovely choice is the lacecap hydrangea. Though these shrubs are technically bigleaf hydrangeas, their airy and romantic blooms have a very different look from the traditional hydrangea flower.

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‘Pop Star’ is another reblooming hydrangea that provides months of lacy flowers in either electric blue or bright pink, depending on soil acidity.

Hydrangeas for Zone 9

If you’re looking to grow a hydrangea in a tropical climate, like in parts of zone 9 and beyond, you need to find a hydrangea that can handle the heat.

The word “hydrangea” comes from the Greek for “water vessel” because these shrubs love water. When choosing a zone 9 hydrangea, you must account for their water needs in relation to the heat and drought in your area.

Luckily, there are drought and heat tolerant hydrangeas to suit your purpose. Oakleaf hydrangeas are not only great for cold climate gardens, but warm climate gardens as well. In fact, they are native to the Southeastern U.S. which means they are right at home in many zone 9 gardens.

Are Alliums Invasive: Managing Ornamental Alliums In The Garden | TakeSeeds.com

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Allium, known for its pungent aroma, includes more than 500 species, including the familiar onion, garlic, chives, and a variety of beautiful flowering plants. Pollinators love the hardy, long-lasting plants, but deer and other critters usually leave them alone. If ornamental alliums are so practical and attractive, how could there be any problems with ornamental alliums in the garden? Read on to learn more.

Are Alliums Invasive?

Not all allium varieties are well-behaved. Some become weeds that are nearly impossible to get rid of, especially in mild climates. The bad news is that dormant bulbs can remain in the soil for up to six years. The biggest offenders are wild allium (Allium ursinum), wild garlic (Allium vineale), and three-cornered leek (Allium triquetrum). All three spread like wildfire, quickly choking out gentler plants that you try to establish in your garden.

There’s really no easy answer when it comes to controlling allium plants. Be patient and persistent, as it will probably require several go-rounds. Oregon State University says to expect the process to take a minimum of three or four years, and maybe even more.

Controlling Allium Plants in the Garden

If you need more information on how to manage flowering onions, here are a few tips:

Pulling: Pulling may help, but only if you can manage to get all the bulbs. The problem with pulling is that tiny bulbs often break off when you pull the clump, and it’s very difficult to get them all, especially if your soil is hard and compacted. Try pulling after a rainfall or watering the area deeply a day or two ahead of time but be aware that pulling may not be the final solution.

Digging: It isn’t much fun, but digging the old-fashioned way is probably your best bet when it comes to getting rid of invasive ornamental alliums in the garden. Dig a deep, wide area around the clump to get the tiny bulbs. Repeat the process every two weeks throughout the season. Don’t shake the dirt off the clump; just place the entire plant into a box or bag so stray bulbs don’t escape. Discard the clumps, soil, and all. By all means, don’t put the clump in your compost heap.

Mowing: Mowing doesn’t get rid of the underground bulbs, but cutting off the tops prevents blooms from developing seeds that generate even more plants.

Herbicides: Chemicals are generally ineffective because the substance doesn’t stick to the tall, slender, somewhat waxy leaves and does little to combat the underground bulbs. If you do want to try herbicides, do so before the plants reach 8 inches (20 cm.) tall. Mow immediately before treating the allium because newly mowed leaves have rough edges that improve absorption.

Controlling Allium in Lawns

If allium plants are popping up on your lawn, be sure to water and fertilize regularly. A healthy stand of grass is more likely to choke out the invaders.

Vegetable Companion Planting Mistakes – 9 Disastrous Combos | TakeSeeds.com

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Companion planting is the practice of combining certain plants that will have beneficial or symbiotic relationships with each other. They might have pest-repellent properties, provide support, encourage pollinators, add nitrogen to the soil, or even provide protection from harsh sun rays. The practice can also maximize the use of a garden space.

The “three sisters” is a classic beneficial companion plant grouping – combining corn, beans, and squash. The corn provides support for the beans and squash, the beans harness nitrogen, and the squash leaves shield the soil, resulting in moisture retention and fewer weeds. However, when growing vegetables, not all planting combinations are favorable. 

Certain plants should never be placed near each other. Their pairing could result in unwanted effects like stunted growth, attracting pests, and even interfering with the taste of the food.

Know which plants should not be combined for a healthier, more productive vegetable plot.

1. Onions And Asparagus or Beans

Alliums, especially onions, have a natural odor that can repel some pests like cabbage loopers and carrot flies. However, onions are high nitrogen users and can inhibit the growth of other plants by stealing all the nutrients

Onions should not be planted near asparagus or beans. In the case of asparagus, the onions steal the nutrients the asparagus needs to establish. Asparagus can take years to produce and needs no competitive plants nearby.

Elsewhere on the veg plot, beans and other legumes need urease to fix nitrogen. However, onions have an allelopathic property that robs the plants of urease.

(Image credit: Alamy)

2. Brassicas And Tomatoes

Brassicas, such as cabbage, should not be paired with nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, as they can stunt their growth. Both crops are also heavy feeders, and positioning them near each other will reduce the nutrients available for robust crops.

3. Tomatoes And Potatoes

Tomatoes and potatoes will not fare well on the same site. This is because both plants are in the nightshade family and are susceptible to the same pests and diseases.

It is recommended that tomatoes be planted in a new area every year. This is to prevent any of their common pests and diseases that have overwintered in the soil from infecting the new season’s plants.

Blight is a common disease of both plants and can persist in the soil even after a year. Tomato hornworms and Colorado potato beetles are especially prevalent in nightshade crops.

4. Fennel And Most Other Crops

Fennel is a delicious plant and repels many insect pests due to its heavy scent. However, it doesn’t grow well with most food crops.

Fennel releases chemicals that inhibit the growth of certain plants, especially tomatoes and legumes. Fennel is also invasive and can cross-pollinate with certain herbs such as dill. This results in strangely flavored plants.

The chemicals fennel releases can also reduce germination rates, with lower crop yields expected.

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5. Strawberries And Brassicas

Who doesn’t look forward to those first sweet summer strawberries? However, they may be doomed to fail if you plant brassicas near the strawberry plot.

This is because cabbage, broccoli, and others attract cabbage loopers. Cabbage loopers feed on a range of plants and will infest a strawberry patch. This can reduce the vigor of the plants and impact yields significantly.

6. Tomatoes And Corn

Tomatoes and corn are excellent paired together in recipes but do not make good bedfellows in the garden. Both are heavy feeders and can deplete necessary nutrients from each other.

In addition, they are both susceptible to corn earworms, also called tomato fruit worms. When planted near each other they form a perfect site for these pests to feed and destroy the crops.

7. Potatoes And Zucchini

Potatoes and zucchini should also not be situated too closely to each other. Both require a heavy nitrogen intake. Potatoes grow a bit quicker and will steal the nutrients from the soil, effectively starving the squash.

Additionally, the same common pests favor both plants. Planting them close together will result in infestations.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

8. Dill And Carrots

Dill and carrots are both members of the Umbelliferae family. They have the same umbrella-shaped flowers, almost identical seeds,  and similar growth habits. But as members of the same family, they can cross-pollinate. This will make the dill seeds taste odd.

They also have the same pest and disease problems and will exacerbate both when grown nearby.

9. Pumpkins And Summer Squash

Pumpkins and summer squash are related but they are very different fruits. Pumpkins have a hard outer shell, while summer squash rind is softer and edible.

However, like all squash plants, they will hybridize readily. This may result in some interesting fruit, but it will not be true to what you planted and could taste terrible.

Sustainable Seed Starting Tips: 10 Easy Ways To Go Green | TakeSeeds.com

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Our planet is on a precipice. We’re balancing between the need to provide food, water and shelter (along with some creature comforts) while at the same time suffering from diminished biodiversity, pollution, deforestation, soil depletion, drought, warming oceans, plastic reliance, overpopulation and so much more. That is why sustainable gardening is even more important than ever before.

10 Sustainable Seed Starting Tips

There is a multitude of ways each person can help. One of these is sustainable seed starting. Growing your own food is great but go a step further by using sustainable seeds combined with eco-friendly seed starting. This small step can have a huge impact on future generations and the environment.

1. Use Plantable Containers

Plantable containers are planted with the seed or seedling right into the soil. The plant’s roots then grow through the material and the container naturally decomposes into the soil. The containers may be made out of bioplastic, coconut coir, manure, paper, rice hulls, straw or wood fibers. Not only are these more environmentally sustainable options, but plantable containers help reduce transplant shock, encourage plant growth, and reduce the use of non-renewable container sources.

2. Look for Peat Alternatives

While peat is a natural material, it is not sustainable. It actually takes hundreds of years to form peat, the decaying remains of sphagnum moss. A better, sustainable alternative is to start seeds in coir pellets. These pellets are made from what was once considered to be agricultural waste; coconut husks now contribute to seed sustainability. Plus coir easily absorbs water without getting soggy, an issue with peat products, and does not transmit fungal disease that contributes to damping off.

3. Plant Sustainable Crops

When looking for sustainable crops, look to native species, those with deep tap roots, and those which are drought tolerant. Beans, for example, are quite drought tolerant plus there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Root veggies have a low carbon footprint since they require little water, are an efficient use of space, and are fairly quick to grow. Tomatoes, melons and squash, with their deep root systems, are excellent sustainable crops, reducing supplemental water dependence.

4. Don’t Buy Containers, Try DIY

We’ve already talked about coir pellets for seed starting, but you can also make your own seed pots. DIY seed pots can be made from newspaper, paper mache (using a paste of flour and water, not glue), or even used toilet paper rolls. Paper egg cartons can be repurposed and even separated and planted directly into the ground. You can start your seeds, and plant them directly into the ground in empty egg shells or citrus peels! If you’re hopelessly uncrafty, there are also plenty of household items that can be reused as containers such as small yogurt cups, soda bottles, tin cans and the like.

5. Get Rid of Containers Completely

Don’t buy containers at all? That’s right. For the ultimate in sustainable seed starting pots, use soil. You can buy or make a DIY soil blocker, a device that once damp soil or potting mix is inserted, compresses the medium then releases it in the form of little blocks or plugs. You can make your own using soup cans or PVC piping if you’re feeling particularly crafty.

6. Save Energy, Use Sunlight

Use the natural power of our sun instead of using electric, battery or gas power to facilitate growth in your plants. Also – surprise – most seeds do not need light to germinate. They do need heat, however. Once they’ve germinated, they will need light to photosynthesize. Place them in an area of indirect but bright light. Avoid full sun, hot southern exposures which will dry out the soil rapidly.

7. Make a Mini Greenhouse

Along the same lines as above, make a mini greenhouse out of a used plastic milk jug, soda container, to-go container (those salad ones with an attached lid are great) or similar items. Wash out the soda or milk bottle and then cut it. The bottom portion will be your seed starting area and the top is the “roof” of your mini greenhouse. Then all you need to do is make some drainage holes, fill the container with damp soil or soilless medium, plant your seeds and replace the top. Voila, mini milk jug seed pot.

8. Plant Seeds From Your Favorite Fruit

Did you know you can plant fruit seeds? It’s true, although with the caveat that the resulting tree will not produce the same fruit from whence it came. You might, though, create an entirely different cultivar! There are a few ways to germinate fruit seeds, but before you even try, know that apple, cherry, peach, pear and other common tree fruits require a chilling period before they will germinate.

9. Hold Onto Expired Seeds

Seeds generally have an expiration date. The date on the package may be the date the seeds were packed, or a “sell by” date or “use by” date. As with food, the date is often a suggestion. It doesn’t necessarily mean the seeds are non-viable; in fact if you’ve stored them in a cool, dry area, they might be just fine. To test the waters, place about 10 seeds on a moist paper towel and put the it in a clear plastic sealable bag. After about 10 days, check on your seeds. If half of them have sprouted, you have moderately viable seeds. In this case, oversow a bit with the knowledge that in the best case scenario, you may need to thin plants out.

10. Support Native Plants, Find Your Local Seed Bank

Lastly, a great way to implement sustainable seed starting is by using a community seed bank. Seed banks are goldmines for seeds; some rare, some common, some heirloom, often native. Native plants are the most sustainable option as they have acclimated to local conditions over hundreds if not thousands of years. They usually require less maintenance than hybrids or seeds collected from other locations. Plus, you can start your own seed bank for your family alone, or on a local, regional or even an international level.

To Cut Or Not To Cut? 4 Plants You Shouldn’t Prune In Spring | TakeSeeds.com

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Are there plants you shouldn’t prune in spring? Pruning in spring is “a thing.” You have surely read online that spring is the best time to prune ornamental plants, but is that information correct? Sort of. The best we can say is that the plants to prune in spring rule is neither entirely correct nor entirely incorrect. Some plants are best pruned in spring, others should never be pruned in spring.

So what plants should be pruned in spring? Which plants shouldn’t? Read on to learn more about pruning basics and plants you shouldn’t prune in spring.

Four Plants You Shouldn’t Prune in Spring

A general rule of thumb may help. If a plant blooms before May, do not prune in spring. Here are a few garden favorites that should not be trimmed back in spring. Note that the best time to prune these shrubs is immediately after flowering is done..

1. Azalea

Rhododendron spp.

USDA zones 6-8

If you like azalea blossoms, do not prune azaleas in spring. Azalea are shrubs that flower in spring, which means that they set their flower buds the previous summer. Azaleas can be evergreen or deciduous shrubs and should be pruned at some point between the moment they flower and July 4. The plants are perennials. They grow best with at least four hours of sun every day and moist, acidic soil.

2. Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia

USDA zones 5-9

Hydrangeas are more difficult when it comes to pruning, since some species bloom on new wood, and some on old wood. Oakleaf hydrangea is a perennial shrub with large clusters of long-lasting flower panicles that bloom on old wood. These are plants to prune in fall. Hold off on pruning oakleaf hydrangea until after the flowers fade, although dead or diseased branches can be trimmed away whenever you see them. The plants prefer moist, slightly acidic, well-draining soil in full or part sun or part shade.

3. Lilac

Syringa vulgaris

USDA zones 3-7

Lilacs are popular ornamental landscaping shrubs and turn any garden into a delightful spot, thanks to their showy blossoms. During the three-week blooming period in late spring, the shrubs fill with extremely fragrant flower clusters – purple, pink or white. Lilacs are perennial shrubs. They need good air circulation and do best in a full sun location in moist, well-draining, alkaline soil. You should be pruning lilac bushes in early summer, after the flowers have faded.

4. Forsythia

Forsythia spp.

USDA zones 5-8

Forsythias are a genus of deciduous flowering shrubs that belong to the olive family. These low-maintenance, fast-growing perennials have a graceful, upright, arching form. They are known for their long branches that fill with brilliant yellow blooms early in the spring. Forsythia flowers precede their leaves. Pruning forsythia should take place in the summer, after the flowers have been spent. Plant forsythia in a location with lots of sun and excellent drainage.

When to Prune

Spring cleaning in the garden means raking up winter leaves, taking out weeds, and trimming back some trees, shrubs, and perennials to prepare them for the summer season. Yes, some landscape shrubs and trees should be pruned in spring. These include evergreens, roses, fruit trees, most vines, overgrown shrubs, and summer-flowering deciduous plants. An annual pruning is basic plant maintenance. What happens if you don’t prune plants? Failure to use the pruners in spring can result in too-big or messy shrubs and fewer blossoms. If any of the trees or shrubs have suffered broken branches or are diseased, failure to prune can even cause the decline or death of the plants.

But there are some very important garden plants that should not be trimmed back in spring: spring flowering shrubs. This same rule applies to deciduous trees that are leafing out in spring.

Why Can’t You Prune These Plants in Spring?

Why shouldn’t you prune spring flowering shrubs in spring? It’s not hard to figure out: you will lose some of those gorgeous blossoms.

Keep in mind that not all garden plants set flower buds at the same time. Plants like evergreens, roses, fruit trees, and summer-flowering perennials set flower buds on new wood, that is, the flexible green shoots that appear on the plant early in the growing season. Pruning back these plants in early spring won’t decrease the flower, but rather encourage new wood to grow, which will increase the buds and flowers. These plants usually flower in summer.

But some plants set buds on “old” wood, the wood that grew the prior season. These buds appeared on stems or branches the prior year, and, by spring, are ready and eager to flower. If you prune these shrubs in spring, you will necessarily cut off flower buds and reduce your blossoms. The only time you’ll want to trim these plants in spring is when their branches are damaged or diseased.

As far as deciduous trees go, those that are leafing out in spring should not be cut back. They need that new foliage in order to feed new growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Perennial Plants Should You Not Prune in Spring?

Do not spring-prune any perennial plant that flowers in spring. This includes azalea, oakleaf hydrangea, lilac, and forsythia.

Which Plants Should You Not Prune in Fall or Winter?

Fall and winter is not a good time to prune plants that set their buds on old wood. These plants should be pruned immediately after they flower.

Red Leaf Lettuce Varieties For A Pop Of Color In Your Greens | TakeSeeds.com

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Growing lettuce in the garden is easy and rewarding, and growing red lettuce is much more interesting. Not only does red lettuce add a splash of color to salads and wraps, but it matures more quickly and is higher in nutrition than its green counterpart. Sure, you can grow iceberg or green leaf lettuce, but sometimes it’s nice to shake things up with some color. There are many different lettuce types to choose from, but we’re going to focus on 5 of them. So go wild, and read on to learn about growing the different red lettuce types.

Is Red Leaf Lettuce Healthier?

Both green and red lettuce are nutrient-rich (and low-calorie). Red lettuce gets its color from the pigment anthocyanin, which is said to have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies suggest that anthocyanin may also help with cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.

With the exception of anthocyanin, however, green lettuce actually trumps red as far as nutrition value. It is higher in vitamins A and K, fiber and micronutrients than red lettuce. That said, both are an excellent choice to add to a healthy diet.

Tastiest Types of Red Lettuce

The best tasting lettuce is really an individual choice. I prefer cos or romaine lettuce because I like their sturdiness and crunch. By the way, there is a red romaine lettuce.

Both green and red leaf lettuces have similar flavors; mildly sweet with a hint of nuttiness. Red leaf lettuce is delicate and ruffled, quite pretty actually, but with little of the crispness or crunch of romaine or iceberg. It has a bitter/sweet aroma that morphs into a mildly bitter flavor in mature leaves. Its shelf life is also significantly shorter than green leaf varieties.

Prettiest Red Lettuce Types

Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, choosing the prettiest red lettuce type is an individual choice. The various red hues alone are a sight to behold. Combine that with delicate, usually ruffled leaves and all of them are beautiful.

  1. Red Sails is probably the most common red leaf lettuce. Developed in 1985, it resists bolting, is cold tolerant, stays flavorful and not bitter, and forms large frilly heads.
  2. Red Deer Tongue not only has a fabulous name but is an heirloom variety that forms loose heads with long leaves. It is quick to bolt, so grow it in the spring or fall only.
  3. Ruby Gem forms pretty rosettes with green centers. Growing to about 10 inches (25 cm) across, this variety of red leaf lettuce works well in containers and window boxes. It is also bolt-resistant, thriving through the heat of summer.
  4. Merlot is said to be the darkest of the red lettuces. It has crisp, wavy leaves, is bolt-resistant and has excellent cold tolerance. This one is perfect for late fall to winter crops that can be cut or harvested as cut-and-come again.
  5. Galactic is a burgundy-colored red leaf with glossy, broad leaves with a touch of green at the base. This is an open-pollinated variety that is often used for baby leaf production. It is resistant to downy mildew.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Red Leaf Lettuce Taste Different Than Green?

Both have a similar flavor; semi-sweet with some nuttiness. Red leaf tends to become more bitter as the leaves mature and has been described as slightly sweet and bitter with notes of hazelnut.

Is Red Leaf Lettuce a Perennial?

No. Red leaf lettuce is a cool weather annual that thrives when temperatures are between 60-70 F (16-21 C). Some varieties, however, can be harvested on a cut-and-come basis, or a second crop can be planted in the fall to extend the harvest.

How To Plant A Rain Garden In Full Sun | TakeSeeds.com

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Many plants are suitable for full-sun rain garden design, including plants for the base, where it is deepest, and out to the edges, where it is driest. Rain garden plants like native perennials are best for their long root systems and appeal to wildlife. Here are a variety of choices with varying bloom times.

Choosing the right plants for a full-sun rain garden will ensure a low-maintenance habitat. Native plants are ideal, but you also can incorporate non-natives as long since they are not invasive and are pest-free.

Rain gardens are an environmentally friendly solution to preventing pollutants from entering our waterways. Storm runoff from roofs, driveways, and other hard surfaces is directed into the rain garden where plants and soil help filter contaminants from the water before it reaches the storm drains.

How To Plant A Rain Garden In Full Sun

Once your rain garden site is ready it is time for the fun part – selecting plants that are functional as well as pleasing to the eye. Choose perennial native plants or introduced ornamentals that are not invasive. Look up the hardiness zone for your location if you don’t know it, because it will determine if a certain plant can withstand an average winter in your city.

Before planting a rain garden, consider design tips that will make your garden more attractive. Situating the plants in groups of three or more gives the area a more landscaped appearance, and repeating the color scheme gives it rhythm and balance. If the area is large, you can add a small tree or shrubs.

Also take note of the amount of water the plants prefer. Those that tolerate “wet feet” can be sited in the base of the rain garden, and those that require less water can be planted toward the edges of the rain garden. By choosing rain garden plants that flower at different times of the year, the habitat is always interesting and will feed pollinators for a long period.

Make the planting holes twice as wide as each plant container and deep enough to allow the plant to sit at the same depth as it was in the container. Mulch well and water regularly till the plants are established. After that, your carefree garden should not need watering unless the area experiences an extensive drought. Do purge weeds as you see them.

Plants For A Full Sun Rain Garden

Here are favorite rain garden full sun plants, their USDA hardiness zones, and their bloom times.

Trees and Shrubs for a Full Sun Rain Garden

  • Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) USDA zones 3-8, blooms in spring.
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) USDA zones 6-10, blooms in summer.
  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) USDA zones 3-9, blooms summer to fall.
  • Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), USDA zones 5-8, blooms in summer.
  • Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) USDA zones 3-7, blooms in summer.
  • Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) USDA zones 3-7, blooms in spring.
  • Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) USDA zones 4-8, blooms in summer.

Perennials for a Full Sun Rain Garden

  • Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) USDA zones 3-9, blooms in summer.
  • Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) USDA zones 4-9, blooms in summer.
  • Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis) USDA zones 3-9, blooms in spring.
  • Brown fox sedge (Carex vulpinoidea) USDA zones 3-7, blooms early summer.
  • Tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata) USDA zones 3-9, blooms in summer.
  • Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) USDA zones 4-9, blooms in summer.
  • Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) USDA Hardiness 3-8, blooms in summer.
  • Common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) USDA zones 2-10, blooms in summer.
  • Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) USDA zones 3-8, blooms late summer.
  • Rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) USDA zones 5-9, blooms in summer.
  • Siberian Iris (Iris siberica) USDA zones 3-8, blooms in spring.
  • Gayfeather (Liatris spp.) USDA zones 3-8, blooms in summer.
  • Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) USDA zones 4-9, blooms in summer.
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) USDA zones 2-9, blooms fall.
  • Virginia Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginatum) USDA zones 3-7, blooms in summer.
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.) USDA zones 3-7, blooms in summer.
  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) USDA zones 3-8, blooms late summer.
  • Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) USDA zones 2-8, blooms late summer to fall.
  • Smooth Aster (Symphyotrichum laevis) USDA zones 4-8, blooms in fall.
  • New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) USDA zones 4-8, blooms in fall.
  • New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) USDA zones 5-8, blooms late summer.

Groundcover for a Full Sun Rain Garden

  • Leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) USDA zones 5-9, blooms late summer.
  • Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) USDA zones 3-9, blooms in spring.

How Gardening Affects Water Supply – And How You Can Help | TakeSeeds.com

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Most of us are aware that many of the planet’s environmental problems are caused by human activities on the land. This is a matter every gardener should consider – how can we change our habits in the landscape to avoid polluting our environment? Each individual can make a positive impact by following sustainable gardening practices.

Are you wondering how gardening affects the water supply? Read on for information on making water conservation a goal in gardening.

How Do Gardening Practices Impact Our Water?

Water is found in our atmosphere, in snow and ice, in ponds, lakes and oceans, but also in plants and animals and soil. There is a cycle to water: it rains down from the sky, soaks into or runs off the soil into nearby lakes or rivers.

That means that all of our gardening practices can impact the global water supply. While it’s easy to think that the garden water you use in one backyard will not have much of an effect, it all adds up. The cumulative effect of everyone’s actions becomes significant. Each of us must acknowledge that our activities can present a risk to the environment.

Can Plant & Lawn Fertilizers Pollute Water Supply?

The water cycle is a very delicate system, and how we manage our landscape has a dramatic effect on that system. Since rainwater or water for irrigation flows through your garden, it will carry both yard waste and chemicals like excess fertilizer and pesticides. If the water soaks into the soil, those chemicals can mix with the groundwater that is used in the future in the garden. When the water runs off the landscape, these toxins can contaminate nearby coastal waters or rivers and streams.

Think about fertilizing your backyard. While some fertilizer goes into the soil, some may land on the driveway and be washed away. The same thing may happen in the yard’s of your neighbors up and down the street. All of that excess fertilizer flows into a small stream that joins a larger one and ends up in the ocean. A septic system that’s not properly maintained can also add to the groundwater flow.

An important step is to determine only use the fertilizer your plants require in your landscape. If you aren’t sure what you need, get your soil tested. Repeat the testing every few years. You will also want to avoid applying the fertilizer right before a rainfall. It is best to use a slow-release fertilizer rather than a fast-release product, since the latter is potentially the most damaging.

How Garden Polluters Impact the Environment

Other types of polluters can also impact the pollution of our environment. The equipment we use to care for our lawns, like gas-operated lawnmowers and leaf-blowers are good examples. We may not think of these machines as climate priorities but they are in fact a major pollution source, causing air pollution, climate change and health issues.

The 2020 Environmental Protection Agency’s report on emissions finds that lawn equipment releases as much smog-forming nitrous oxide as that released by 30 million vehicles. It also releases 30 million tons annually of climate-warming carbon dioxide. This is more than the total air emissions released by Los Angeles.

How Improper Lawn Mowing Impacts Water Quality

So it’s easy to see how our garden chemicals can impact the quality of water. But did you know that cutting your lawn can also significantly deteriorate our water supplies? If you handle lawn clippings carelessly, you can introduce nutrients into the water source. Yes, they are only grass clippings but they act as a slow-release fertilizer.

The leaf blades and stems contain within themselves all the nutrients needed for plant growth. On average, they contain 4% nitrogen, 0.5 to 1% phosphorus, and 1 to 2 % potassium by weight. Both nitrogen and phosphorus are problematic since they can cause eutrophication of water sources, causing prolific algal blooms that use up the oxygen in the water. Because of this eutrophication, many native plants and animals die off.

Best Ways to Reduce Water Consumption

Practices such as mulching and collecting rainwater are good ways to use less water in your garden. I think of mulch as a blanket of protection you place on the soil surface. It helps regulate the soil temperature, cooling the roots in summer and warming them in winter. It also reduces your water usage by limiting water evaporation from the soil and preventing weed growth that can hog the available rainwater.

You can also reduce your garden water use by using drip irrigation for your garden. This type of irrigation system only allows slow, controlled release of water to the soil through holes in a pipe or hose stretched along a row of plants. The water drops out slowly from the holes and is immediately absorbed into the soil. Using a drip irrigation system reduces your water loss by up to 60 percent over traditional watering methods.

Many homeowners are opting against traditional turf lawns to reduce their water consumption. But it’s more than just getting an efficient lawn watering system. If you still want a traditional lawn, take care in selecting the type of turf you plant, since water usage varies considerably among the turfgrasses. For example, pick buffalo-grass, one of the common turfgrasses that requires the least amount of water, over tall fescue, which requires the most water.

Drought-Resistant Plants To Help Conserve Water Supply

Building a garden from drought-tolerant or drought-resistant plants is known as xeriscaping. This helps to conserve water since the plants are either able to make do with available rainwater once they are mature, or else they require only occasional irrigation.

Why do these plants require less water? They are often native plants that have developed special characteristics that allow them to do with less water. They may have deep root systems that allow them to dig deep for soil in the water, or smaller leaves for reduced evaporation. Some have leaves protected by tiny hair or a wax-coating, which also limit evaporation.

To that end, consider these five drought-resistant superstars:

  • Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum)
  • Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos flavidus)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Palo verde (Parkinsonia florida)
  • California lilac (Ceanothus spp)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Plants Help to Improve Local Water Quality?

Yes, the appropriate choice of plants can help reduce water consumption and improve local water quality. Native plants require less water and virtually no chemicals to grow.

7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

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The Philadelphia Flower Show 2024 delighted visitors with floral creations that combined themes of sustainability and unity with pure indulgent fantasy.

For a whole week in March, attendees were able to shake off the bleakness of winter and immerse themselves in all the colors, scents, and textures of spring and summer flowers.

The world’s biggest indoor flower show, Philadelphia Flower Show is also the longest-running, launched in 1829. Each year the event draws gardeners, professional floral artists, landscapers, and plant lovers to the city, who are presented with breathtaking flower arrangements from all directions.

As well as being a feast for the senses, the show highlights the key garden design trends that will be on the horizon for the foreseeable future. The overarching theme was “United By Flowers”, which was evident in the collaborative approach and messages of connection seen throughout the show.

Take a cue from these trends, and be inspired to emulate them in your own garden design.

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

1. Joyfully Bold Colors

This year’s show was unashamed in its celebration of all that is bold and beautiful about flowers.

The entrance garden set the scene with fantastical displays including floral “clouds”, reflected in water features to create a dynamic interplay of color and light. 

Elsewhere, Jacques Amand’s Circle Of Color showcased seasonal spring bulbs in every color imaginable, while Robertson’s Flowers created a stunning display of neon bright flowers and geometric shapes.

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

Jennifer DesignsAmerica In Bloom went one step further with a floral map of the whole USA, using different blooms to reflect the various USDA planting zones across the country, and in homage to the great American road trip.

Alliums, billy buttons, protea, and foxgloves were especially popular at the show,” says Katie Dubow, trend forecaster and president of Garden Media Group. “Bright, bold, neon colors were embraced – think magenta pink, salmon pink, and bold orange.”

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

2. Connecting Through Flowers

This year’s show theme “United by Flowers,” showed how plants and gardens can bring people together – whether strangers, communities, or families across generations.

Shaffer DesignsConnected: A Floral Legacy embraced collaboration and took inspiration from its friends around the globe, combining plants from wet and tropical environments to create an immersive floral walkway. 

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

In Susan Cohan’s garden, Generations, the designer revealed how flowers help to bring us together and make a connection through our family trees. Half of the garden was a traditional gardener’s retreat featuring nostalgic plants including foxgloves and dahlias; the other half featured a contemporary space for extended family gatherings.

It represented the idea of flowers as living heirlooms and helped to tell a story of how we pass down our knowledge and passion for gardening and plants through the generations.

Meanwhile, Tissarose Florists showcased how flowers are so often central to life’s celebrations. Its Need for Ceremony display revealed a dinner table setting festooned with flowers.

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

3. Landscapes Reclaimed By Nature

The blooming revolution was on stage for all to see, as garden designers showed how forgotten spaces could be reclaimed with vibrant flora. 

“Witness the transformation of dilapidated city lots and roadside wastelands into lush sanctuaries, showcasing nature’s resilience and mankind’s dedication to revitalizing urban landscapes,” says Katie Dubow.

In Kelly NorrisA Beautiful Disturbance, an abandoned industrial lot finds new life as a novel ecosystem. The scheme won several awards including The Governor’s Trophy and The American Horticultural Society Environmental Award. 

Kelly asks: “How can gardening amplify dynamic, spontaneous vegetation to promote a message of renewal, hope, and community? In this era of global change, we need to reimagine the vegetation of cities as homes for future nature.”

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

Meanwhile, Apiary StudiosRight of Way featured mirage-like scenes of roadside America with a dynamic planting design including many native plants. The remarkable scheme won The Philadelphia Flower Show Cup, Best in Show and the Anne Vallery Award.

“The designs sparked many conversations about how nature and urban spaces collide, and how horticulture plays a major role in cultivating beauty in unexpected places,” says Katie.

“Plants have the power to breathe new life into our communities.”

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

4. Quiet Reflection

The sensory journey began right at the entrance of the Philadelphia Flower Show, where the trend of reflection transformed garden displays into oases of tranquility.

“The entrance exhibit featured a pool – the show’s biggest ever water feature – and mirrored boxes, which bounced images of pink tulips, purple hydrangeas, blooming cherry trees, and other brightly-hued buds around the open space,” says Katie.

“Amidst the bustling show, these aquatic havens offered moments of quiet reflection, inviting visitors to pause, breathe, and reconnect with the soothing rhythms of nature.”

The theme of quiet reflection continued into the Men’s Garden Club of Philadelphia Garden, Quiet Respite, Japanese Garden Harmony, which highlighted Japanese cherry blossoms and a tranquil landscape combining to create a harmonious ambiance. “This intimate oasis serves as a respite, drawing inspiration from nature’s artistry, and fostering meaningful connections that transcend borders.”

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

5. Going Native

The importance of native plants was highlighted throughout the Philadelphia Flower Show, and how these beautiful species have an integral role to play in our gardens. 

“From Kelly Norris’ A Beautiful Disturbance to Apiary Studios’ Right of Way, each exhibit told a story of resilience, sustainability, and transformation,” says Katie.

“From the majestic mullein and hardy yarrow, to the vibrant hues of coneflowers and rudbeckia, this is a trend here to stay.”

The United States Geological Survey even joined the exhibits this year to display different bee species and information on pollinator-friendly plants.

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

6. Fairytale Fantasy

One of the most stunning landscaping schemes at this year’s show was the Lost Garden, by Irwin Landscaping and Prairie Wind. Winner of The Philadelphia Trophy and Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association Trophy, the scheme evoked a dreamlike fairytale.

Slowly the display revealed a once-treasured sanctuary – journeying through a long, contemporary black-water pond beneath a wooden pergola, surrounded by beautiful plantings. The path culminated in a wall fountain and gazebo covered in a bare vine that conjured a gothic fairytale, enhanced by a rusted iron gate.

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

“As you explore, the dreams and designs of those who came before whisper through the space,” explain the designers. “Even as walls crumble and unbridled plantings bloom for no one, you begin to see the garden in its past, present and future forms. Though you may never learn its whole story, you have already begun to write the next chapter.”

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - 7 Key Trends We’re Taking From The Philadelphia Flower Show | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Philadelphia Flower Show 2024)

7. Foraged Flowers

A world of wild beauty was on display at the Philadelphia Flower Show, where the trend of foraged flowers took center stage.

”Attendees were exposed to the three steps of foraging to create gorgeous arrangements – seek, prep and create – by Oasis Forage Products,” says Katie. 

“Visitors explored the artistry of nature’s bounty as skilled florists showed how to craft arrangements using blooms and foliage from your own garden.”

Johnson Grass Control: How To Get Rid Of Johnson Grass | TakeSeeds.com

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Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense) has plagued farmers since its introduction as a forage crop. This invasive and noxious weed has gotten so out of control that landowners in many states are mandated to kill it. If you are bothered by a troublesome invasion of this perennial weed, learn how to get rid of Johnson grass.

How to Get Rid of Johnson Grass

As with most invasive weeds and grasses, using multiple strategies usually works best for Johnson grass control.

Johnson grass reproduces and invades crop areas in two ways, spreading both by seed and rhizomes to overtake farmland and other areas of your property. The rhizomes of Johnson grass are identified by thick cream-colored rhizomes, covered with orange scales.

When combined with cultural practices that prevent the spread of rhizomes and seeds, an organic herbicide program may be helpful but may not eliminate it.

Tilling the soil in fall following the harvest and followed with an organic herbicide is a good start to killing Johnson grass. Rhizomes and seed heads brought to the surface by tilling may be destroyed.

The seeds of Johnson grass can remain viable for as long as ten years so it is best to prevent the seeds from being spread in the first place.

Take steps to prevent the spread of seeds and rhizomes to areas that are not infested. Digging clumps of Johnson grass in the yard or small garden is a start. Dispose of the clumps where they cannot reseed or spread. It is best to do this before the grass goes to seed, to further prevent the spread of the seeds.

When Johnson grass grows near the lawn, keep the turf thick and healthy to discourage the invasion of Johnson grass. Take a soil test and apply recommended amendments to keep the grass growing. Reseed thin areas of the lawn and mow at the proper height for your variety of grass to keep it healthy and competitive against the Johnson grass.

Successful Johnson grass control may include the use of organic, environmentally friendly Johnson grass herbicides. It’s important to consult with your local garden center or extension service to be sure you are using a product that won’t contaminate the surrounding area, its soil and its plants.

Best Indoor Plants For Dark And Moody Rooms | TakeSeeds.com

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Let’s look at the best indoor plants for dark rooms. If you love houseplants but don’t think you have enough light, believe it or not, there are quite a few good indoor plants for dark rooms. While they may not be as showy as their sun-loving cousins, houseplants for dark spaces will still brighten up those shadowed recesses. Keep reading to learn about the best houseplants for dark rooms.

Best Indoor Plants for Dark Rooms

Plants are a bit like people. They grow, reproduce, and need food and water to survive. How about light? Plants need light as well, right? Well for the most part yes. Plants use the sun’s light to photosynthesize which is how they make food.

Surprisingly, some houseplants can be grown in a room with no windows and only artificial light. It might be more of a challenge but if you pick the right plants, you can add life to a dimly lit space.

For your dark interior space you will be looking for shade-loving plants. Here are just a few:

  • Boston fern
  • Cast iron plant
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Grape ivy
  • Pothos
  • Snake plant
  • Spider plant
  • ZZ plant.
  • Peace lily
  • Philodendron

All of these are tolerant of low light. Even parlor palms do well with little light. Need more color? Try growing a begonia. There are many varieties of begonia, some perfect for those dimly lit rooms of your home. Most of the low-light begonia suited to low-light homes are of the Begonia rex, angel-wing begonias with swirls and splashes of color in hues of purple, green, and pewter.

If you really want to make a statement, grow Paphiopedilums or slipper orchids. There are 60 species of slipper orchid, many suited for home use. They grow in mostly terrestrial pockets of organic matter and prefer bright but indirect light which may work for some low-light homeowners. They come in an array of colors of green, purple, white and pink.

Designing With Houseplants in Dark Rooms

There are varied reasons for a home with dark rooms. It could be a lack of artificial light, or a dark interior may be the result of surrounding trees that cool and shade the home. Overhanging eaves, attached covered patios, larger nearby structures, and the orientation of the home in relation to the sun are all reasons for a dim home interior. Sometimes the entire home is not low light but a certain area such as an east or north-facing window may have low light conditions.

The good news is you still have options. A light meter can help you to measure light for indoor plants in a specific location, allowing you to select just the right plant for the area.

Another option is to rotate plants. Perhaps you want a plant in a spot that is particularly devoid of light. You could rotate like-minded low-light plants, placing one in brighter light for a time and another in the low-light area. You can juggle the plants like this as long as you don’t leave any one plant in dim light for longer than a couple of weeks.

You can also use supplemental lighting especially if the lighting situation is particularly bleak. There are plenty of plant lights available, and many are energy-saving.

Lastly, if all else fails, there are always artificial options. Today’s fake flowers are so real looking they put the plastic blooms of the past to shame. There are artificial plants of every type from cacti and succulents to shrubbery and trees and everything in between. No need to feed or water, all you need is a feather duster.

The Best Places To Find Free Stones For Landscaping | TakeSeeds.com

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Rocks and stones are important in landscape design. They are practical for providing boundaries, edges, and walkways. They are also aesthetically pleasing, supplying textural interest and contrast to plants. Unfortunately, decorative landscaping rocks aren’t cheap. Here are some budget-friendly ideas for picking up free rocks for your garden.

Average Costs of Landscaping Stones

Rocks and stones are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they’re cheap. Landscaping materials, including rocks, can be expensive. The more you need, the more the costs add up.

Basic rocks average between $50 and $150 per ton. Larger boulders can be upwards of $800 per ton. Gravel, including crushed granite, limestone, and pea gravel, cost between $20 and $200 per ton. Bags of these smaller rocks are often between $7 and $25. If you are using larger rocks, you’ll also need to consider any delivery fees or costs of labor to have them installed.

Best Places to Find Free Stones

There are two main types of stones you might want to seek out for free for your garden. Free landscaping rocks are larger stones you can use for stone edging, borders, walls, and paths. Gravel is a mix of smaller stones you can use for drainage or to create paths.

Free Rocks Near Me

Before you pay too much, check out construction sites for rocks of various sizes. You’ll need your own transportation and to be able to lift them, but this can be a real jackpot. Workers often uncover rocks while digging foundations. Ask before you take them, but most construction site managers will be happy to be relieved of these rocks.

Farms are in a similar situation. When preparing fields, they find rocks that need to be moved. Contact local farms or farmers to see if they have any rocks they want to get rid of.

Look online, too. Homeowners doing renovations or landscaping work might be getting rid of stones found on their property. They might list these on Facebook, neighborhood and community pages, or Craigslist.

Free Gravel Near Me

Gravel can be a little harder to find for free, but again, check with construction sites. Demolition sites, in particular, are likely to have a lot of rubble and gravel that someone is responsible for disposing of. The foreman or company will probably let you have it. Neighbors doing landscape renovations might also have extra gravel that’s hard to get rid of.

Check with your municipal government as well. Many local governments collect yard waste and often give away free mulch made from it. Although less commonly disposed of, some city governments also have gravel and stones as part of the yard waste.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Cheapest Stone to Buy?

Basic boulders and other stones of no particular type are less expensive than pieces of granite, lava rock, or other more visually interesting stones. For the cheapest gravel, look for pea gravel or decomposed granite.

Can You Take Rocks From Local Parks or the Forest?

You cannot go into a park or someone else’s property and take as many rocks as you want. Check with the agency that runs the park or a ranger to learn more. If you know someone with a lot of property, ask if you can remove stones from it.

Grow A Square-Foot Vegetable Garden With This Year-Long Plan | TakeSeeds.com

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If you have a small growing space or like things to be orderly and neat, then square-foot gardening might be for you. The practice involves dividing the growing area into small squares – typically 1ft (30cm) sections, but they can also be larger to suit the crop. Each square will serve as the planting zone for an individual crop. 

Growing vegetables in a square-foot garden is most often achieved using a raised bed, but can also be done in a ground-level plot. The key is to create an easy-to-access growing space that will save time, money, and resources. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Benefits Of Square-Foot Gardening

Square-foot gardening ensures a high yield, with less effort than traditional gardening methods. The practice was developed in the 1980s by Mel Bartholomew, a retired engineer with an interest in efficiency.

In his concept, a 4x4ft (1.2×1.2m) or 4x8ft (1.2×2.4m) raised or in the ground bed is created. The actual size could be smaller if that is all the space you have.

After amending the soil the area is divided into 1ft (30cm) squares. Into each square, seeds or seedlings are planted at the rate the space will accommodate.

Since the plantings are close, the soil does not compact because it doesn’t get stepped on. It also allows many crops to grow in a small space, reduces weeding, and saves water.

How Deep Should The Bed Be Made?

The depth will be decided by the types of plants. For instance, if you are making a salad garden with different types of greens, it only needs to be about 6 inches (15cm) in depth. Plants like tomatoes need more depth and stability and should have 12 inches (30.5cm) or more.

The relatively low depth level means it is less expensive to amend the soil.

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - Grow A Square-Foot Vegetable Garden With This Year-Long Plan | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Site And Soil Type

The garden grid should be situated where it gets at least eight hours of sun. The soil must be well-draining with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. This is the average needed for most vegetables.

If using garden soil, amend it with compost, leaf litter, or other organic matter to increase tilth and add nutrients. Some gardeners like to mix in some well-rotted steer manure or bone meal.

For long-lasting soil health, place sticks and twigs at the bottom of the bed, then add leaf litter, grass clippings, or kitchen waste. This will slowly rot and enrich the top layers of soil, which should be compost and then garden soil.

Another easy-to-make mixture to fill the site is:

  • One-third coarse vermiculite
  • One-third peat moss
  • One-third compost

To figure out how much soil to make, measure the length, width, and height of the area. Multiply these measurements together and divide by 27 to get the number of cubic yards.

9 Four Season Trees That Will Steal The Show All Year.svg - Grow A Square-Foot Vegetable Garden With This Year-Long Plan | TakeSeeds.com

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How Many Plants Per Square?

Your first considerations after the site has been built, are which and how many foods can be planted. Each square will either have 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants inside its confines.

For instance, you would plant 1 tomato plant per square, or 16 radish seeds. It all depends upon the plant’s mature size. Plants that vine, such as pole beans, can be planted at 4 plants per grid.

You will need to determine the plant’s ultimate height and width to decide how many plants per square. Seed packets will indicate the proper seed spacing for that type of crop. This can tell you how many seeds or seedlings should be installed in each square.

Follow this method to accurately determine the number of seeds:

  1. Find the seed spacing
  2. Divide the width of the grid by the seed spacing number
  3. Repeat this process but use the length of the grid
  4. Multiply the result of these two calculations and you will know how many plants per square

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What To Plant?

In order to use your square-foot garden to grow food for most of the year, you will need to plant cool-season crops in spring and fall, and warm-season crops after all danger of frost has passed in the region.

Cool-Season Crops

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Warm-Season Crops

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Practice Succession Planting

Succession planting is where you plant more seed as a crop is finished. For instance, when all the radish have been pulled, that location may not have a tomato plant or beans installed.

Once these have been harvested, plant a cool-season crop that is not harmed by frost such as kale or turnips.

Items like lettuce can be cut to come again, or in the case of head lettuce, it may be reseeded if the weather isn’t too hot.

Integrating other food plants with the main crops can increase your food diversity. Annual herbs like basil and cilantro may be interspersed where there is room.

Suggested 4×4 Garden Plants

As an example, here is a garden plan for each square. There will be 16 squares and each of these needs 1 square:

  • 1 Broccoli
  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Pepper
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 2 Cucumbers
  • 4 Arugula
  • 4 Corn
  • 6 Lettuce
  • 9 Beets
  • 9 Bunching onions
  • 9 Garlic
  • 9 Leeks
  • 9 Turnips
  • 16 Carrots
  • 16 Radishes

Keep in mind items such as squash and melon will need two squares per plant. By successive planting the cool-season crops and those that mature early, the garden will go well into the cool season in most zones. 

Why Biodiversity Is Important, Especially For Gardeners | TakeSeeds.com

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Learning about biodiversity is important for gardeners. Awareness of threats to biodiversity and what biodiversity loss means to the planet has become crucial. If you’re not exactly sure what the benefits of biodiversity are or how it relates to you as a gardener, read on to learn more about it and explore some examples of biodiversity.

What does Biodiversity Mean?

Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, refers to the vast variety of life forms found on earth and the natural interactions among them. As evolution and extinction occur, biodiversity changes over time since these dramatic processes affect not just one species, but the entirety of life.

Biodiversity is often divided into three parts: ecosystem, genetic and species diversity. Despite the fact that these parts seem divided, none can exist without the others. Change in one arena causes change in the others, sometimes irreparably.

Some areas, usually warm, wet tropical regions, are more naturally prone to biodiversity than others simply because conditions are favorable for species’ growth. Areas that are particularly diverse are called “‘hot spots” and are often where endemic species, those that are only found in this unique area, are found.

Biodiversity Benefits and Examples

Biodiversity is important for a number of reasons. National Geographic defines “ecosystem: as “…a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form a bubble of life.” A diverse ecosystem affects climate, pest and disease control, seed dispersal, water cleanliness, and soil nutrients. This of course translates to food production, but biodiversity isn’t just about feeding the planet. It is also related to our societal needs, development of medicines, economic opportunities, and even our leisure activities.

So biodiversity is integral to the food we eat, water we drink and the air we breathe and so much more. Because of its complexity, biodiversity is often broken down into four benefits or services it supports: cultural, provisioning, regulating and supporting. If one cog in this chain breaks down, it affects everything.

Take cows for instance. Grass in pastures feed cattle which in turn produce manure that nourishes the soil which can then support the renewal of the grass upon which the cattle and other animals feed upon. The manure can also be used to fertilize crops while the animals themselves are a food and material source.

Why is Biodiversity Loss Important?

The loss of biodiversity is vitally important. Let’s look at the cows again. If the pastureland the cows are grazing on was previously a forested home to all manner of species and was deforested, the habitat of the forest creatures becomes decimated, hence the species no longer exists, at least in this one area. Instead cows are now being raised here to benefit one species (humans), where before there was an entire ecosystem whose parts were interdependent on each other to the mutual benefit of all.

Of course, we’re only talking about one area of forest, but this is just one example of a loss of biodiversity that can have a great impact. And what if that particular area of forest had the only remaining Northern spotted owl? The loss of this owl species sends out a ripple of repercussions affecting all numbers of species; a ripple that is actually happening across its geographical range through Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. The loss of the spotted owl habitat has led it to seek shelter in areas populated by barred owls. The imperative to reproduce has led the spotted owls to mate with the barred owls resulting in a decrease in genetic diversity and population size and an increase in breeding, resulting in lower reproduction success and survival rates.

Why is Biodiversity Important to Gardeners?

In our gardens, biodiverse practices can improve pollination by providing a natural habitat for a range of living things, including beneficial birds and insects, while naturally thwarting pests and diseases. This type of mini-ecosystem also has the effect of increasing what the garden yields.

Allowing garden space for native plantings, leaving some uncultivated spaces for insects and wildlife to dwell and feed, and encouraging a wide range of living species that may also include fungi and bacteria not only creates healthier garden plants, but improves the condition of the earth. Planting a number of diverse types of plants like herbs, vegetables and flowers is a great way to support biodiversity at home. Using cover crop methods to enrich the soil and encourage insects also contributes to a biodiverse environment.

Diversity in the garden is also more aesthetically pleasing which in turn feeds our emotional and physical well-being. At the end of the day, the decisions you make to encourage biodiversity even in just your own corner of the world can influence conservation commitments locally and globally.

What’s The Cost Of A Budget Rain Garden? | TakeSeeds.com

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If you’re considering building one, it’s a good idea to know what a rain garden costs and what it takes to do it right. A rain garden is a natural solution for stormwater runoff that creates flooding and pollution, since it is designed to absorb and filter rainwater.

The EPA describes a rain garden as, “… a depressed area in the landscape that collects rain water from a roof, driveway or street and allows it to soak into the ground. Planted with grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost-effective and beautiful way to reduce runoff from your property.

We would add that a rain garden is a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to manage stormwater.

How Much Does a Rain Garden Cost?

A rain garden can be expensive or reasonably priced, depending on how you approach it. Of course, size also plays a role. The larger the area you hope to cover, the more it will cost to build.

The biggest cost factor comes down to choosing between doing the work yourself or hiring a landscaping service. Expect a professional rain garden cost per square foot to be between $10 and $13. Professional landscapers charge for design, construction, plants and other materials, and labor.

If you buy the materials and plants and do all the work, you will pay between $3 and $5 per square foot. Even when doing the work yourself, you can keep the budget on the low end with smart choices.

Designing a Budget-Friendly Rain Garden

First, understand that creating a rain garden is already a budget-friendly decision. If you have a problem area where water collects and pools, a rain garden is a more cost-effective solution than a traditional stormwater management system.

The latter use channels, pipes, and other structures to divert stormwater into local streams and rivers. This poses several problems, including pollution, but it can also be expensive to construct. A rain garden is less expensive and as we mentioned, more environmentally friendly.

The first way to save on the cost of a rain garden is to do the work yourself and enlist the assistance of friends or neighbors to get the job done more quickly and efficiently. This gives you immediate and significant savings compared to working with a professional service. Here are some other ways to make a rain garden more budget-friendly:

  • Start with a design – Focus on the areas of your yard or garden that collect and hold standing water. Create a design that minimizes the space you need to cover with new plants or rocks. Without a design, you might end up buying more than you need or covering more space than necessary.
  • Choose the right plants – Part of your design process should be choosing plants for the rain garden. Select plants that grow in moist to wet soil. If you choose inappropriate plants, they will likely die and need to be replaced, costing you even more.
  • Choose native plants – Native plants are ultimately less expensive than exotics or ornamentals. They are designed to grow and thrive in your wetter native ecosystems. Check with your local extension office for recommendations for native rain garden plants.
  • Plan for dense vegetation – Although it might require spending more on plants initially, a dense rain garden design saves money in the long run. With dense vegetation, you won’t need to buy mulch. Not only does mulch cost money initially, but it also needs to be replaced regularly. It is an ongoing maintenance cost. Denser plantings negate the need for mulch and will control erosion better.
  • Find freebies – Wherever possible, look for free plants and materials you can get at low cost or for free. Start plants well in advance from seed. Take advantage of garden center sales, and take cuttings from friends and neighbors to acquire new plants. Starting with seeds or cuttings requires planning more in advance. You’ll need time for them to get up to size compared to buying transplants. If you need rocks for the garden design, look around your garden for those you can move.

Rain garden costs shouldn’t keep you from using this natural and sustainable solution to managing rainwater on your property. Once you build it, this type of garden will repay you in natural beauty, erosion control, and many other ways.

7 Mulching Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Healthier Plants | TakeSeeds.com

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Mulch is a layer of material added to the surface of soil in the garden, typically in beds and at the base of trees. There are so many benefits of using mulch in the garden. It helps soil retain water and nutrients, reduces soil erosion, suppresses weeds, and protects plant roots from extreme hot and cold temperatures.

New gardeners may understand the importance of mulching but not necessarily how to do it correctly. Yet, when done incorrectly, garden mulch problems can occur and harm the soil and plants.

Avoid these common mulching mistakes that can cause more damage than good.

1. Using Too Much Mulch

While mulch provides several benefits, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Excess mulch can trap excess water at the roots of plants. It can also compress and compact the soil, reducing oxygen and water flow.

The good news about using too much mulch is that it’s easy to fix. Simply rake off enough mulch to leave two to three inches in place. Use the excess mulch in other beds or save for filling in patches as needed.

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2. Using Too Little Mulch

Likewise, not having enough mulch defeats the purpose of mulching. You won’t get the benefits of water retention, weed suppression, or plant protection if you don’t apply enough mulch. Aim for two to three inches.

If the mulch layer is too thin, simply add more. Keep some extra mulch on hand for patching areas that have thinned due to wind, raking, or digging animals.

3. Piling Mulch Too High Around Trees

Some people pile mulch up around trees in what is known as a mulch volcano. This cone of mulch might look attractive, but it actually harms the tree. The thick layer of mulch up against the base of a tree restricts airflow and can suffocate roots. Excess mulch here also invites pests and moisture that can lead to disease and rot.

As with other mulched areas, keep the layer around any trees or shrubs two to three inches thick. You can even leave a thin ring around the trunk mulch-free. If you have already created a mulch volcano, remove some of the material to let the trunk breathe and dry out. 

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4. Not Weeding Before Mulching

One of the biggest benefits of mulching is keeping weeds at bay. It’s not a perfect solution, but a good layer of mulch reduces the number and size of weeds, which compete with your plants for water and nutrients.

Don’t assume that a pile of mulch will kill existing weeds – especially those that are large or more established. Weeds are persistent and will find a way up to the light. Always pull weeds before applying mulch.

If it’s too late, you’ll have to dig through the mulch to get weeds out by the roots.

5. Using The Wrong Mulch

The number of different types of mulch to choose from can be overwhelming if you’re new to the practice. Each type has its uses and benefits. Select the right mulch for the job.

Bark and wood chip mulches are good choices for flower beds and around trees, while grass clippings, leaves, and hay are best for vegetable beds.

Also, avoid colored mulches made with wood or bark treated with chemicals and dyes. Natural mulch is always the best option. If you learn after the fact that you used the wrong mulch, consider taking the time to remove it and start over again. Your plants will thank you.

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6. Mulching Too Early In Spring

It’s tempting to get outside at the first sign of better weather in spring and start working in the garden. But resist the urge to mulch right away. Give the soil a chance to warm up before adding mulch.

Mulching too early keeps the soil cold, making it more difficult for seedlings to grow and emerge. Wait until mid- or even late spring to mulch.

Use the time to thoroughly weed beds and rake out old mulch.

7. Not Raking Old Mulch

Laying down mulch is not a one-and-done garden chore. Over time, mulch breaks down or gets removed and dispersed by rain, wind, and other forces. It thins and needs replacing regularly.

When replacing mulch, don’t simply lay it over old mulch – take the time to rake the old material. Reusing old mulch is an option, but you need to mix it in with the new material.

Leaving the old mulch in place and piling more on top of it contributes to compaction of the soil, which ultimately suffocates plant roots and reduces water absorption.

You don’t necessarily need to remove the old mulch but you should rake it and fluff up the soil to reduce compaction.

Article edited by
7 Mulching Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Healthier Plants.svg - 7 Mulching Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Healthier Plants | TakeSeeds.com
Article edited by

Melanie Griffiths

Melanie has worked in homes and gardens media for two decades. Having previously served as Editor on Period Living magazine, and worked on Homes & Gardens, Gardening Etc, Real Homes, and Homebuilding & Renovating.

An experienced gardener, Melanie has spent the last few years transforming her own yard. She is also a keen home grower, having experimented with pretty much every type of vegetable at some point.

How To Bring Your Lawn Back To Life – Your Post-Winter Plan | TakeSeeds.com

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Your grass doesn’t really die in winter. Although it often looks dead, your lawn is going through a period of dormancy. It should green up with warmer weather and basic lawn care, but it might also look sparse and lifeless or even have patches of grass that don’t regrow.

Even though dormancy during winter is normal, it takes a toll on your lawn. The lack of maintenance, cold temperatures, and snow cover that blocks sunlight contribute to some degree of damage over winter. Use this spring to-do list to bring your lawn back to life after a long winter.

1. Rake And Dethatch To Let Grass Grow

Even if you raked up leaves in the fall, your lawn likely has some debris left on it after the last snow melts: blowing leaves, twigs and branches, and dead grass. Remove this material to make way for new growth and any reseeding you need to do.

In addition to regular raking, dethatch your lawn. Thatch is the matted layer of dead grass that sits between the soil and living grass. A thin layer of thatch protects the roots, but a half inch or more can prevent water and nutrients from penetrating the soil.

Use a dethatching rake or electric dethatcher for larger areas.

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2. Scarify Dead Patches

As you rake it, check all over your spring lawn for areas of grass that are dead and beyond repair. They are unlikely to recover as the weather warms unless you intervene.

Use lawn tools to remove the dead grass, a process known as scarification. Rake up and dispose of the dead material, leaving a clean area for new grass to grow. If the patches are small, they may fill in on their own. If larger, prepare the patches for seeding by loosening and turning the soil.

3. Aerate To Loosen The Soil

Lawn aeration loosens up compacted soil to allow more water, oxygen, and nutrients to get to the roots of your grass. It also improves drainage. Aeration is a relatively simple matter of poking holes in the ground. You can do this by hand with a pitchfork. 

This can obviously become time-consuming, so rent an aerator for larger areas or hire a landscaping service to do the job quickly.

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4. Overseed To Boost Grass Density

Once you’ve prepared the soil, you can reseed the bare patches and overseed the entire lawn to fill in areas of low grass density.

Spend a little extra time and care on the completely bare patches. Seed them by hand and consider applying a cover, like straw, to protect the area until the grass grows. For larger areas, use a seed disperser to evenly distribute grass seed. 

Water after putting down seeds and keep foot traffic off the lawn as much as possible.

5. Fertilize To Promote Spring Growth

Spring is a crucial time to feed your lawn. The grass needs nutrients to regrow as it comes out of dormancy.

Use a light application of a quick-release lawn fertilizer. For large lawns, use a granular product that you can broadcast with a spreader. This tool allows you to cover a large area quickly and evenly. For a smaller lawn, you can use a liquid fertilizer.

Whichever method you use, you should see new green growth within a few days.

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6. Get Ahead Of Weeds

Weeds in the lawn are not just unsightly. They also compete with grass for water and nutrients. They can quickly take over as the weather gets warmer in spring, so it’s important to get a head start.

Pull weeds by hand, getting all of the root, or use a selective herbicide.

Crabgrass is a common weed in lawns, and the window for a pre-emergent solution is short. The rule for getting ahead of crabgrass is to apply a pre-emergent product after at least three days in a row of 55°F (13°C) soil temperatures. Once the soil gets warmer, crabgrass will grow out of control.

7. Start A Watering Routine

Growing grass needs a nutrient boost from fertilizer, but it also needs water. Many regions get plenty of spring rain, but if your lawn isn’t getting enough rainfall, start watering regularly. Aim for about an inch of water per week for healthy growth.

Before the heat of summer, it’s best to water lawns in the morning. This allows any excess water to evaporate by nightfall, preventing fungal growth on the grass.

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8. Mow When The Time Is Right

Early spring is a great time to get the mower ready for action. Change the oil, and if needed, replace any spark plugs and the air filter. Fill it up with fresh fuel. If you didn’t do so in the fall, clean under the deck of the mower. Sharpen or replace dull blades, which can tear up grass and cause damage.

The timing of the first mow depends on your local climate, temperatures, and grass growth. Before mowing the lawn, wait until new seedlings have sprouted and are big and strong enough to withstand a cut. Set the mower height to remove no more than one-third of the height of the grass blades.

These simple steps will help revive your grass after its dormant period, paving the way for a lush, green, and healthy lawn for the rest of the season.

Coconut Palm Indoor Growing Guide: Expert Care Instructions | TakeSeeds.com

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Growing a coconut palm indoors can be done! Coconut palms are grand trees that can achieve 100 feet (30 m) in height. This fact makes it seem impossible for coconut palm indoor plant use. Indoor coconut palms are widely available houseplants but don’t expect them to get any fruit. The seedlings can often be found in the indoor plant section of nurseries. An indoor coconut tree may not be Cocos nucifera, but a palm in one of many other genera, such as Washingtonia or Phoenix.

Can You Grow a Coconut Tree Indoors?

A coconut palm tree indoor plant is probably not a true coconut. However, they are available. A coconut palm houseplant is fairly slow-growing. Outdoors they do not reach maturity until they are around 8 years old, which is when they begin fruiting. Plants in the landscape can live up to 100 years. However indoor coconut palm plants are short-lived and limited in their height by the container in which they are grown.

Coconut Palm Indoor Care

Coconut seedlings are a bit fussy and do need proper light and plenty of water. Mimicking the conditions they enjoy outside in their tropical ranges can be tricky in the home interior. But a few tips will make your little indoor palm tree happy and healthy.

Light

In this plant’s native range, it receives plenty of sunlight. Indoor coconut palms should be near a southern or western window. Give them as much sunlight as possible, ideally 8 hours or more. If your home is a bit dim, invest in a good plant light to supplement their light supply. Potted palms may be moved outdoors in summer, just be sure to move them back indoors before cold temperatures threaten.

Water

Cocos nucifera lives in areas with hot, humid weather. The fruits contain a great deal of coconut water, so as you might suspect, they need plenty of moisture. In the home, especially in winter when central heating is on, the plant needs to be kept moist but not soggy. Use your fingers to see if the soil is moist a few inches (7.62 cm) deep. Water the plant deeply but do not let it sit in a saucer of water or the roots could get a rotting disease.

Temperature & Humidity

Coconut palms are tropical plants and are not frost hardy. They will grow best at temperatures of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 C). As mentioned, these palms live naturally where there is plenty of tropical humidity, a condition that can be hard to duplicate in the home. Set the plant on a saucer filled with pebbles and water; this will keep the roots out of the water but provide ambient humidity. Mist the plant frequently to moisten its leaves.

Soil

Indoor coconut palms will grow just fine in a good potting soil with ⅓ sand or other grit mixed in. The key is to have well draining soil. Alternatively, use 2 parts peat free compost with 2 parts grit.

Fertilizer

Container bound plants will appreciate feeding. Coconut palms are prone to nutrient deficiencies, especially with phosphorus and nitrogen. A liquid all purpose plant food should be applied from April to mid September every 2 weeks. You might also seek out palm tree food made especially for these types of plants.

Problems, Pests & Diseases

Providing proper lighting is a common problem indoors. If necessary, keep the container on coasters so you can move it to the brightest areas of the home. Plants that go outdoors for summer may get scale, aphids, or palm leaf skeletonizer. They are also susceptible to lethal yellowing, a disease transmitted by leafhopper insects.

How to Plant an Indoor Coconut Palm

Purchased seedlings can be planted at any time of year. Select a 3 gallon (11 L) pot for young plants. The root system is not extensive initially, but the plant will need to be moved to a container double or more after 6 months.

Pruning

Removed dead or damaged leaves at any time. The older leaves will tend to die over time and can be pulled off.

Propagation

Purchased coconuts may not achieve germination due to processing considerations. If you can get a fresh nut you can grow a little seedling. Make sure you can hear the water in the fruit. Soak the fruit for a couple of days. Then plant it pointed side down in well draining potting soil. Leave the top 3 inches (7.5 cm) of the fruit out of the soil. Water it enough to keep the soil moist but not boggy. Place the container where temperatures are at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C) if not higher.

Repotting

Coconut palms will require repotting every couple of years. Increase the container size as needed. Ideally, use a soil with little to no peat and a bit of grit. Make sure the container has plenty of drainage holes.

Overwintering

Bring plants that have been moved outdoors for the summer, inside before temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C). In warm regions, cover the plant with frost barrier fabric if a light frost occurs. Remove it during the day when the temperatures warm.

Indoor Coconut Palm Varieties

Plants sold as coconut palms could be in very different genus. Washingtonia, Chamaedorea, Howea, Rhapis, and Chrysalidocarpus are a few possibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are the Leaves on My Coconut Palm Turning Brown?

Discoloring leaves may be the result of sunburn if the plant is too close to a bright window. Move the plant back a bit. It may also occur due to several nutrient deficiencies, especially potassium. When the plant lacks potassium, yellow spots appear on the leaves, darkening to reddish brown. Eventually, the whole leaf looks brown and dry. The problem could also occur if the plant isn’t receiving enough humidity.

How Long Do Coconut Palms Live?

Expect a container grown coconut palm to live for 5-10 years. While outdoor plants can live to 100, container bound specimens will be stunted and will not receive all the elements necessary for such a lifespan.

Shou Sugi Ban Raised Beds: Burn Wood Beds For Rot Resistance | TakeSeeds.com

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Japan is one of those countries with centuries of culture that still cling to modern-day life. They have a practice called Shou sugi ban or Yakisugi, a non-toxic method of preserving wood. Shou sugi ban means “burnt cedar board” although several other types of wood may be used. This method of charring wood for raised beds provides a durable, long-lasting structure without adding chemicals. Shou sugi ban raised beds are attractive and provide an organic housing for all your fruits and vegetables.

What Is Shou Sugi Ban?

Shou sugi ban appears to date back to the Edo period in Japan. There are surviving structures in Japan that are centuries old and feature this wood preservation method. In the process, the wood is charred and oiled. The resulting material is resistant to pests, rot, and fire. It has an alligator skin texture and a deeply black color. In traditional preparation, 3 boards were tied into a chimney of sorts and fire was allowed to travel up the chimney, charring the wood.

Originally it was a building material of the lower class because it was inexpensive and durable. Around the 1970s, Shou sugi ban became more widely known as Yakisugi and its popularity soared anew. Today it has become a much sought-after building material.

Benefits of Shou Sugi Ban Raised Beds

A Shou sugi ban raised garden bed is long-lasting and durable, as well as relatively inexpensive. The process actually strengthens the wood and makes it impervious to rot for long periods of time. During the burning, excess moisture is drawn out of the wood and the grain seals together. The char effectively reduces and repels insect pests. It also seals the wood making it difficult for insects like termites to burrow into the structure. Burning wood for raised beds also leaves behind an attractive, modern yet rustic, finish.

How to Make Shou Sugi Ban Raised Beds

While cedar, specifically red cedar, is the traditional wood used, other woods are also suitable. Pine, oak, hemlock, and maple may also be used. Since you are burning wood for raised beds, the type of wood you use depends on your preference, budget, and aesthetic.

First, you will construct the beds in whatever dimensions you require. Wood plank, corner bracing pieces, and an optional cap piece combined with screws will accomplish this part of the job. It is probably easier to char the boards prior to assembly, but it could be done afterwards. This will be up to you. A large propane torch is the easiest way to get the char. The flame is allowed to burn just long enough to char the surface. In most cases the wood will not truly catch fire, but have water handy just in case.

Finishing Shou Sugi Ban

After charring, brush the wood with a wire brush. This will eliminate some of the excess ash, but also push the ash into cracks and crevasses, filling any gaps. Finally, seal the wood with linseed or tung oil. These are natural oils. Use a brush to apply a thick coat of oil to all surfaces of the boards. Let it soak in for 10 minutes and then use old rags to wipe any excess away. If the boards have dry spots, reapply in the same manner.

Safety Considerations

The first caution is obvious. We are working with fire. Wear appropriate clothing, eye protection, boots, and stout, fireproof gloves. Have water ready nearby. Burn the planter wood where the surface it is sitting on will not catch fire. A cement driveway or patio is ideal provided it is far enough away from any structures. Gravel spaces work as well but soak the area first in case some errant plant material is present that might catch fire.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Problems With Shou Sugi Ban?

For some gardeners, this project isn’t practical due to the lack of building and charring space. Also, if you like the charm of a white picket fence, aesthetically your beds might look better whitewashed. Over time, the black char on the wood will begin to fade and might require retreatment. The finish will also not be consistent due to the natural nature of the wood. This is a labor-intensive, messy process that isn’t for everybody.

What Kind of Wood Is Best for Shou Sugi Ban?

Cedar is the material used historically, but other woods are suitable. Cypress, maple, spruce, oak, hemlock, and pine are all woods that are treated to this process today.