Archive for the 'Flowers' Category

Best Container Types for Growing Tomatoes

If you have enough space, you can easily have a big garden to grow your tomatoes in. However, not all of us are that fortunate with space, but would still love to eat fresh and home grown tomatoes. Well, there is a good option for such people: containers. Pots or containers give you the wonderful option to plant your tomato seedlings and place them in a corner of your house where they can receive enough sunlight. However, choosing the right container type is one thing that should be carefully done if you want to get a good harvest. Here are some tips and ideas that you can use to pick the right container type and successfully grow tomatoes in containers.

The size is probably the first thing you will need to consider before picking your container. Tomatoes need adequate space so their root system can grow easily. So, a small and shallow container will not work for this plant. What you need is a five gallon pot that can provide enough space for the roots to grow.

So, now you know the ideal size for the containers and it is not necessary to stick to just traditional pots and containers that you would use for growing flowers and vegetables. There are a variety of buckets, pails, and window boxes that you can choose from.

Plastic and fiberglass are considered to be the best for growing tomatoes. This is because they do not dry out quickly and we all know that a dry soil is not good for healthy growth of the plant and for ripening of the fruits. Also, since you need big size containers to grow your plants, they can prove to be quite inexpensive. Plastic containers also do not crack easily and this is why a five gallon bucket could be a great option for growing tomatoes.

You can also look around the house and find something that can be successfully used to grow tomato plants. These could include half wine barrels or wooden packing cases that you do not need any more.

What you should keep in mind while recycling old things lying around the house is they should be made of a non-toxic substance and they should provide adequate drainage at the bottom. Mostly these recycled products will not have a drainage hole at the bottom and in such cases you will need to drill one at the bottom. The hole should be big enough to drain out excess water, but it should not be so big that the soil keeps falling from container through the hole.

If you have pots and containers lying around the house that are not being used anymore and can be used for planting your tomato seedlings, you should scrub and clean them thoroughly. This will ensure that no soil-borne diseases or pests are present in these pots. You will then need to add fresh potting soil to the container for tomatoes.

When planting tomato plant in a container, you should put some soil at the bottom and then set tomato plant in, so the roots and the stem are buried. You can then just fill in the potting soil around it till about one inch below the rim of the pot. Water it thoroughly and set it in a location where it can receive some good natural light. So, now that your tomato plant has been planted in a container, its time to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Jimmy Casperson is a tomato growing enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on choosing tomatoes container visit Growing Tomatoes resource.

Harvesting and Drying Herbs

Once planted, herbs benefits are immensely useful in so many ways. After an herb has grown and flourished, now is the time for harvesting. Timing is the critical factor. Can Herbs Survive your Green Thumb?

The best time to harvest your home herb garden is right after the leaves are dry from the morning dew and right before the flowers open for the day. Calm, dry midsummer mornings are a perfect time to harvest your herbs. Remember that the essential oils from herbs dissipate on overly humid days. Too much moisture while harvesting herbs produces fewer essential oils. The wind and hot heat can affect the essential oils as well; so timing is very important.

After you have chosen the perfect day for harvesting, next make sure to inspect your herbs for insects or damaged leaves. The herb will need a fair amount of foliage for re-growth so make sure you do not harvest no more than a third of the herbs foliage at any given time. If you are going to use a fresh herb straight from the garden, always clean them first before adding to a recipe. You can do this by placing the herbs in a bowl of fresh cool water. Do not run the herb directly under a faucet. If you have a large quantity of herbs you can always clean them in a sink. To drive away insects without damaging the plant, add about two tablespoons of salt to the water. Once clean, remove them from the water and dry them in a salad spinner.

When preserving your herbs for later use, you can either dry them, freeze them or even preserve them in a medium. To dry herbs, remove any foliage from the base of the stems and then bunch 6-12 stems together and fasten with a string or twine. Hang the bundle, away from sunlight, in a cool dry place. To dry individual leaves, place them on a screen for a good airing. Turn them often so they dry evenly. Other methods have been used in the past such as dehydrators, ovens or microwaves to dry herbs but have usually produced unsatisfactory results. The heat from the appliance dries the herb too rapidly so the herbs end up loosing their natural oils. The old fashion way works the best.

A fairly simple method of preserving herbs is to freeze them. First cut the fresh herb into about ¼ inch pieces and lay on a flat cookie sheet lined with waxed paper; then place the sheet in the freezer. After they are frozen, bunch them together in baggies and return them to the freezer for use at a later date.

A medium is usually used to preserve herbs. White vinegar for instance can be used as a cover on mint, tarragon or basil. Using this method will preserve the herbs for several months. To make a flavored salt as well as preserving your herbs at the same time, alternate layers of fresh herbs between layers of salt while drying. The salt draws the moisture and flavor from the herb. Once completely dried, separate the brown herb from the flavored salt and store both separately in airtight containers, preferable one that does not let the light in.

There are many different types of herbs for many different purposes. Each herb has it’s own unique characteristics as far as their use, harvesting, chopping or preserving them. To get the most out of your particular herb that you are interested in, research it well.

This is but a small excerpt from my latest e-Book: Holistic Herbs~A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening Here! If you’d like to learn more about the wonder of herbs, sign up for my free mini course.

Successful Gardening!

Kali S Winters

Vegetable Garden Layout

Your vegetable garden layout will depend upon what vegetables you intend to grow, the planting space available and if you would like to opt for companion planting. When I first started growing vegetables, I planted my sweet peppers in between my tomatoes and cucumbers. Well, I ended up having to supply extra water to my peppers because the tomatoes and cucumbers stole all the water due to their larger root system. Peppers have smaller roots.. So here are some helpful tips on how to layout your own garden and start planting vegetables.

Sit Down and Plan

Before choosing a layout you need to decide on what type of vegetables you would like to grow and where you would like to plant them. Here are some other factors you need to consider for your vegetable garden layout:

* Garden Space * Amount of Light in the Space * Drainage System * Soil Amendments * Type of Vegetable * Additional Space (if needed) and of course the root system of the actual vegetable itself!

You should also think about whether you want to grow one type of vegetable like lettuce and tomatoes or if you want one type of vegetable with different varieties, such as romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce. Research the amount of light and space each vegetable requires for optimal growth.

Make a list of vegetables you want to plant and find out the plants requirements, then compare it with the garden space you have available. This should give you an indication of where you are able to plant each particular vegetable in your allotted space.

Choose your Garden Layout

There are three basic vegetable garden layouts: rows, beds and the “potager” style.

The more traditional layout style consists of planting seeds in a row. This type of arraignment would either mean planting one type of seed in a row or different seeds in a row. Regardless, the style is in a row formation.

A similar layout and a more popular approach is the raised vegetable garden beds. This bed type is similar to the rows style but on a smaller scale. The layout allows access to the plant beds from all sides. The beds are raised off the ground with some being as high as 3 feet. This is particularly convenient to avoid stepping on the beds which tends to pack down the soil, making it difficult to dig and aerate in the spring or fall. Plant beds are great ways to maximize a garden space and you can even use raised beds for easier gardening.

The most decorative style of layout is called the “potager” which means kitchen garden in French. This layout is described as geometric which allows you to layout your garden in circles or arrange plants by color or even food type. Gardens like these often contain vegetables, flowers and herbs planted together.

Companion Vegetable Planting

The idea behind companion planting involves planting different kinds of plants together so that they help each other grow. A perfect example of this is planting beans, corn and squash together which were commonly done by Native Americans. While the corn gives the beans a place to climb, the beans gives its three companions nutrients in the soil and the squash serves as a shade to the roots of the plants beside it. This not only prevents weeds from growing, it also saves up on water.

Other great companion vegetables are onions, which scares slugs and aphids away, tomatoes, which grow well with carrots and basil, which improves the taste of tomatoes. Another example is horseradish and potatoes which when planted together give your potatoes protection from disease.

Companion vegetable planting is certainly worth considering when vegetable garden planting. My new book, “Holistic Herbs~A Beginners guide to Herbal Gardening,” has a complete vegetable companion chart. You will get the chart for free along with 6 other bonus books when you order my book Here!

Successful Gardening!

Kali Winters

Gardening Hygiene

Gardeners love to get their hands in the soil. That’s ok because one can wash the hands when done. Wearing garden gloves keeps the dirt from getting under the fingernails, and is easier on the skin, so most people wear them when planting or pulling weeds. With the arrival of warm weather, gardeners have been out there in droves, seeing their perennials and bulb flowers faithfully coming in and blooming. Sometimes the gardener is just looking and admiring and then there is that overlooked weed that has to be pulled or a yellowed leaf that needs to come off. At times like this, there are no gloves, and the hands still look clean. Don’t be fooled by that. Bacteria thrive in soil. They help improve the soil but can also be harmful to the gardener. Also spores may be present and you definitely want to get rid of these.

Just like any other situation where the hands have become contaminated, handwashing is necessary in order to avoid illness. The Center for Disease Control has said that proper handwashing is the best way to get rid of microbes. The most thorough way to accomplish this is to have an automatic, sensor-operated soap dispenser available. This eliminates touching the soap dispenser with dirty hands. So after gardening always clean your hands and stay healthy.

How To Place A Trellis, Water Fountain, and Lighting For Maximum Effect In a Feng Shui Garden

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of placing elements in your garden to encourage the beneficial flow of Chi (Energy Force) to create harmonious change. It is believed this affects your health, wealth and relationships. Feng Shui is becoming increasingly popular in the West, and I hope to explain a few of the Feng Shui design principles that you can easily use when placing a trellis, water fountain, and lighting in your garden.

Create Harmony & Balance

Optimizing Feng Shui takes nature’s lead as much as possible with the primary aim of creating harmony and balance. Follow these fundamentals when you plan your garden, and take note if your health, wealth, and relationships do indeed benefit.

1. Curve the paths through your garden to encourage chi to move more slowly and freely. Straight paths cause chi energy to run too quickly towards your home. To slow the chi energy on existing straight paths, allow plants to grow over them so the chi can circulate freely around them.

2. Create ‘living spaces’ in your garden for friends and family to sit around, relax and enjoy the sunshine, along with your plantings, garden decor, and a gentle breeze. Stone, metal, or wood benches, rustic furniture, and patio chairs all offer different types of seating to work with your gardening theme.

3. Plant trees, large shrubs, and/or vines on a trellis to provide privacy and protection at the back of the garden. A clematis or other vine growing on a trellis could give the height and protection where space is limited.

4. Mix different sizes, shapes and colors of plants to enhance your Feng Shui garden so that no one species is overwhelmed by another. Diversity is the key to providing balance here.

5. Add fountains, pools, and ponds for their beauty and to encourage beneficial chi. Water features symbolize prosperity and create yin (feminine) energy.

6. Create more Yang (masculine) energy by using garden lights to brighten different aspects of your garden – a statue or stepping stone, the outline of a path, a lovely flowering plant on a trellis, or a water fountain or feature. These may include lighting accessories such as smaller solar lights, lights along a path or spot lighting.

Remember how important balance and harmony are to A Feng Shui garden. Finding just the right the lighting accessories , water fountain , trellis , and other key elements is easy when you visit which provides a large selection of many of these elements for your Feng Shui garden design.

Go Green In Your Garden With Sustainable Stepping Stones That Last A Lifetime

When purchasing for your garden, doing so in a sustainable way saves money and lightens our footprint on the earth. So many products are used for a short time, and discarded, while going green can save you both time and money.

Stepping Stones With a Lifetime Guarantee

Some stepping stones are made to use a year or two, and then they fade and break down in the elements. These add quick and economical color or whimsy to the garden or a setting, but a more long-lasting choice is to buy cast stone with a lifetime guarantee. There are hundreds of whimsical phrases now available for your garden, your soul mate, and for a loved one-including your pets. Made of the finest quality, these are stones that will last forever – and they are guaranteed to do just that! Just of few of the groups include:

Whimsical : I tried, but it died; Life is a Garden, Dig it!; or Grow Dammit

Spiritual : Believe; Faith; One is Nearer God’s Heart In a Garden …; God Bless You; God Grant Me The Serenity…

Patriotic : God Bless America

Memorial : Roses for Mother; If Tears Could Build A Stairway; Planted as a Living Memorial; Gone Yet Not Forgotten; Remember; Perhaps The Stars In The Sky Are Loved Ones…; Miss You

Pets : Dogs/Cats Leave Paw Prints on our Hearts; Best Friend; May I Always be the Kind of Person My Dog Things I Am; Have Your A Dog/Cat in Heaven …

Friendship : Friends are Flowers That Never Fade; Friendship Is A Rainbow …; It Takes A Long Time To Grow An Old Friend; A Friend loveth at All Times

Welcome : Welcome; Welcome to Our Home; Welcome to Our/My Garden; Welcome the Hope that Flowers Bring

Family : A Sisters Love …; Mothers Touch your children, fathers, hug them tight…; My father didn’t tell me…;

Love : Grow Old Along With Me…; Live Well, Laugh Often, Love much; In My Life, Dear Brother…

Garden : What Is Paradise, but a Garden; Secret Garden; Happiness is Homegrown

There are hundreds of phrases from which to choose, but most importantly, they last a lifetime, and can be passed on from generation to generation. This is what makes these eco-friendly and worth the investmest. The memory of giving or receiving such a gift is priceless. The “Grow Dammit” my son gave to me reminds me of him every time I see it, and makes my smile just thinking about it hanging in my greenhouse while my seedlings are taking root.

There are hundreds of these lifetime guaranteed stepping stones available for you at along with other eco-friendly rustic furniture and garden accessories .

6 Culinary and Medicinal Herbs for Small Containers

Herbs adapt very well to their environment, as do plants in general. Most culinary and medicinal herbs need plenty of sunlight, and well-drained soils, in addition to frequent watering. Most culinary herbs are resistant to pests, and are easy to grow even for beginner gardeners.

Herbs will gather all the nutrients they need from the soil. After several harvests the leaves may begin to lighten or even yellow, this is a sign that they may additional nutrients. Almost any fertilizer will do, but I recommend making your own compost out of kitchen scraps. This is a great way to add nutrients back into the food cycle.

Here are 6 of the best herbs for small containers:

1. While mint tends to be overwhelming outdoors, often overtaking smaller plants alongside it, in individual pots, they can be a delightful aromatic addition to your kitchen. The small pot constricts growth and produces smaller, even more flavorful leaves. Mint makes an excellent addition to summertime drinks with a clean, refreshing taste.

2. Basil is the perfect houseplant. It smells wonderful, it is relatively hearty, and it tastes absolutely wonderful. Weather it is fresh pesto, Caprese salads, or just flavoring the marinara sauce, there is a reason that basil is in everything. This plant loves to grow in the window and as long as you remember to water it often, and pinch off the tips before it goes to flower, it will bring fresh herbs all year long.

3. Rosemary grows tall and lanky with leaves that look much like pine needles. Dried, crushed, and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper gets you rosemary chicken after 30 min in the oven. One of the most delicious healthy dishes you can make for the family on the go. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean, and likes plenty of sun and water.

4. While oregano can easily be found in many verities I there are a few that are better suited for small containers. Be sure to read the label carefully and look for one that is right for small gardens. Oregano is a must for every serious herb lover.

5. Chives, like many herbs are used both in cooking and for medicine. Delightful on a baked potato and also a fungicide! Isn’t food wonderful?! It is when you are cooking with fresh herbs. Chives are easy to harvest and are considered one of the fine herbs of French cuisine.

6. Chili Peppers make a beautiful addition to the muted greens of most herb gardens. Give your herb garden a kick with some compact Thai and Mexican varieties. Bright red and full of power, chili peppers can lower your blood pressure with its abundant antioxidants and capsaicin, while still leaving you burning for more.

Weather you are a experience gardener or the recipient of a Herb Garden Gift, you can benefit from the experience of growing your own herbs. It’s easier than you think, and the results are simply priceless.

If you liked this article please consider purchasing a herb garden gift for someone you know. It makes for a heartfelt gift that keeps on giving for years to come.

Author’s Bio:

Learn more about Herb Gardens including where to buy a wonderfully unique Herb Garden Gift from at Stem Garden – Grow Fresh Herbs in Your Kitchen.

Indoor Gardening

Indoor gardening is becoming more popular as technology improves and costs decrease for supplies and equipment. Growing indoors can be very rewarding and the results are absolutely fantastic when done correctly, that said they can also be devastating when things go wrong.

In this article I would like to dispel some myths about indoor gardening as well as give some tips for simple ways to improve your harvest.

Myth #1: You can grow in any room indoors.

Growing indoors even in the best circumstances is more difficult than you would think at first, and depends a lot on “what” you are trying to grow. For this article I will focus on food bearing plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers, and other succulent garden plants, as well as herbs and fresh flowers and orchids. Plants such as garlic and carrots that create bulbs are even more challenging and will not be discussed at this time.

Tip #1: No matter what plants you decide to grow indoors, you will still need to meet its basic requirements for growth.

Mainly, good ventilation from the outside, Light, and fertilizer as well as a exhaust for the heat from the lights and built up oxygen that the plants cannot eat. Plants Breath CO2, but with global warming and all there is plenty of that in regular air, so just make sure your ventilation is good into and throughout the room. Light and fertilizer depend more on what you are trying to grow. Be sure that water is nearby unless you like to carry heavy things a lot. Even long hoses only go so far.

Myth #2: Indoor gardening doesn’t involve getting down and dirty.

Cleanliness is close to godliness. Growing indoors can be a messy job. Weather you decide to use hydroponics or soil, there is usually some sort of spills involved.

Tip#2: Plan for the worst! Enclose the growing area in a cheap and easy home-made reserve reservoir to prevent run-off and spills from damaging your home.

Create a wooden frame of 2x4s that sits flat on the ground and lay a giant plastic sheet (available at home depot) that tucks over the board on all sides. Be sure to measure before hand, but often you can get 12 x 30 ft or more. The idea is to create a giant tub below the plants in case of emergency. This is especially important for hydroponic systems that are not on the ground floor.

Red Spider Lily

– Lycoris Radiata

The red spider lily is in the genus Lycoris, and in the amaryllis family. They are often called the red surprise lily.

In late summer, most often during September, red spider lilies will begin to sprout and bloom. The stems and flower buds quickly emerge reaching their height in about a week. Since they often go unnoticed until they are in full bloom, it is a surprise when all of the flowers appear because it happens in such a short period of time. There is no foliage present during this time.

The flower stems are about eighteen inches tall. At the top a each stem is where the flowers bloom. The red spider lily has six to eight red flowers that grow outwards, and they all bloom at the same time. The individual flowers combined create an illusion of being one large flower that is over seven inches in diameter.

The stamen of red spider lilies are also red. They reach out far beyond the petals, like red eye lashes. Shortly after the blooms fade away, the leaves of red spider lilies begin to appear, emerging from the tops of the flower bulbs. Once established, the leaves form a thick mound. They grow about eight to twelve inches long, and are less than a half-inch wide. The leaves are green with a light creamy green colored stripe along the center of its length. The foliage appears in October, then dies back at beginning of summer the following year. After the leaves yellow they can be cut or mowed.

Red spider lily bulbs are covered with a thin, protective papery skin. When the bulbs reproduce, they will divide inside this skin, similar to a garlic or shallot bulb. If conditions are favorable, in about five years, each mature flower bulb will have produced about twenty new bulbs. The bulbs will often be pushed to the top of the ground due to crowding, signaling that it is time to do some transplanting.

Like other bulbs, red spider lilies are planted with the pointed side up. The bulbs are adaptable to most types of soil. They should be planted so that the top of the bulb is about three inches below the surface. Space the bulbs about eight inches apart in well-drained soil. Red spider lily bulbs are hardy in zones seven through ten.

Red spider lilies can be planted as ornamental plants in flower gardens, borders or mass planting. They are great when used for naturalizing flowers, and make wonderful cut flower arrangements. The flowers do well in full sun; however, they will keep their bright color longer if they are grown in partial shade.

Note: The red spider lily is poisonous when ingested.

Springtime in the Rockies the Iris War

My iris need water and fertilizer so I am braving the winds. It is 46 degrees after being in the 60s over the weekend, those rascals on NOAA, our online weather “channel” are saying an inch of snow this afternoon and another overnight.

I glance over my shoulder to see the snow capped ruggedness of Pike’s Peak against the cerulean sky filled with puffy white clouds. As I look down I see my tulips in yellow and flame finally blooming in spite of the weather forecast. Contrasting with the tulips are the brilliant purple hyacinths and the two tones yellow daffodils.

Then I see what I have been fearing since we live trapped one of our two rabbits a day ago. Nimrod, the hunter I am married to humored me and bought a “live trap”. We caught one of the bunnies and transplanted him about five miles away in a lush field with some rocks and a culvert for hiding places. With one down and one to go, I could only dream they were both boy bunnies. As I get ready to water my flower beds I now realize my grave mistake. There is a tiny little heather gray little one looking at me with great brown eyes. It is the size of my open palm. I am thinking kitten only this is no feline. This is an iris munching herbivore with huge front teeth. Oh, no, maybe both of our “guests” are female.

Some things I consider vermin. It doesn’t bother me in the least to dispatch them with a shot gun. Now before you have a tizzy, let me remind you I am referring to the Richardson ground squirrels better known as “picket pins” because they stand straight like a picket fence. They also were digging tunnels under the concrete which supported our propane tank – a couple more holes and splat-boom the propane tank would hit the ground and possibly blow up. These squirrels have carried bubonic plague in nearby Colorado Springs. They are so prevalent that they run all over our roadways. You see them flattened every few feet this time of year. They eat their own buddies who have been run over and look like rats. OK?