Sunday, 28 August 2011

Tips on Caring For Roses

There are many, many different types of Roses. Tea, Grandiflora, Floribunda, Old English, Ramblers, Climbers, Miniature, etc. Many of the newer hybrid varieties will bloom off and on throughout the growing season, while others have one spectacular show, with intermittent flowers later on.

Roses have very particular needs. Roses need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day. They also like light, well drained soil. The soil around their roots should be kept loose by cultivating often. This brings necessary oxygen to the roots of the plants. They also like to be fed a good organic fertilizer regularly and mulched around the base of the plant to help keep the roots cool in the heat of summer and warm in winter.

Roses also need regular care to keep insects and disease at bay. An insecticidal soap spray will keep away Aphids and Whiteflies. An organic fungicide spray will keep away Black spot, a disease very common to roses. Watering the soil around the Rose rather than the foliage is also a good prevention against Black Spot.

If you keep a scheduled maintenance for insect and disease prevention, the care seems very easy. If one waits until there is an infestation of one sort or another, it is much more difficult to eradicate the problem. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies.

When pruning your Roses, or simply clipping some for a vase, be sure to use good sharp pruning shears. Dull shears can tear the stems, leaving ugly dark marks. It also leaves a larger open wound for disease and insects to feast on. It can even inhibit new growth. When pruning a Rose, prune just above a leaf.

This will encourage the plant to grow bushy and thick. Leaving long stems will make the plant lanky. It is also important to prune out any old dead canes. Depending on the type of Rose, how they are pruned and cut back for the winter will vary. Check the instructions that come with the plant.

Roses have been revered by many generations of gardeners and non-gardeners alike. The beauty of Roses will enhance the look of your home year after year.

Garage Storage

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Water Gardening Tips

Filter Systems:

There are two types of biological filter systems. In the water and above ground. The in the water systems are good for smaller ponds. The pump and filter system sit in the bottom of the pond. These systems are relatively inexpensive, the down side is that when the filter needs to be cleaned (on a regular basis, at least bi-weekly) you are getting wet.

The above ground systems are more expensive, however, once installed they are easier to maintain and are good for larger ponds and ponds with waterfalls. These pumps are generally stronger than the submersible type and can push more water. The filters are easier to change and clean.

When cleaning your filter system, whether above ground or in the pond, Never clean the entire filter system at one time. There are usually more than one filter pad or chamber of filter medium. Clean half at a time. You want to keep a supply of beneficial bacteria in the filter system. The beneficial bacteria helps to filter our things like chlorine and waste. It will also keep the algae at bay.

Having Fish:

If you want to have fish in your pond, it should be 24' - 30" deep at the center so the fish can be wintered over. It also provides a cool spot for fish in the summer. A biological filter is also a must. Start with small, inexpensive fish. The fish will grow to fit the size of the pond, and you are bound to lose a few from time to time. Unless you are an experienced water gardener, I would not recommend spending $80.00 on a special Koi. Koi are beautiful, but they are also dirty fish. They excrete more waste than a regular goldfish.

Caring for your fish: Before you put any fish in your pond, neutralize the chlorine from the water. Fish hate chlorine! I recommend letting the pond settle for a few weeks and let the filter system grow a little beneficial bacteria before adding fish. When you do add fish, let the fish acclimate to the water temperature for at least one hour before cutting open the bags and pouring them into the pond. This way the fish can change temperature slowly and reduce the chance of shock. A dose of stress coat in the water will help reduce stress. This will coat the fish and reduce stress. The other deadly problem for fish is high Nitrates. Doing some reading about water chemistry in ponds will go a long way.

Pond plants are also great for the pond. They provide a source of shade and food for the fish. There are floating plants, such as Water Lettuce, Water Hyacinth, Anacharis and Water lillies. There are also bog plants. These grow in special pots and sit in the ledges of the pond, such as Iris, Cannas and Cat Tails. There are dozens of different types of pond plants.This will add aesthetic beauty to the pond. It will also create a habitat for frogs and turtles.

I know this sounds like a lot of work, but really its just a lot of info. Once you get your pond installed and balanced, it will be a joy. Put a bench near the pond so you can sit, relax and enjoy the serenity of a pond in your own backyard.

There are many ready to install pond kits available that will make building a pond quick and easier then you can imagine. You can find a series of sizes to meet your specific needs at most Garden Centers.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Herbs in the Garden

Rather than just the sweet smells of roses and flowers, herbs lend another dimension of smell to the garden. Spicy, musky, heavy or light, each herb having a distinctly different scent.

Planting, Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano along a garden path will give off a gorgeous aroma as you pass by.

Mint makes a fabulous perennial (in most areas) groundcover, that can take foot traffic. Mint comes in many varieties, each with its own fantastic smell.

Sage is a lovely plant, and comes in different colors, the Tricolor Sage is a perennial favorite. Variegated green and white foliage with just a hint of red on the edges of the leaves.

Lavender, one can never have enough Lavender in the garden. Beautiful grey/green foliage with prolific lavender, purple or even pink (depending on variety) blooms. They smell fantastic and are great for drying.

Dill, Basil and Parsley are great foliage fillers for containers. Mixed with annuals they make a lovely display. Keep these planters near the house for easy access during cooking.

Nasturtiums are a free flowering herb that look great in planters, along the edge of the garden and are also great in salads.

Herbs generally like a sunny, well drained location and are easy to grow. They are not easily susceptible to insects and diseases. Many herbs are perennial, and will grow and spread quickly.

Tender herbs can be brought into the house and wintered over in a warm sunny window. Spray with a solution of soapy water before bringing inside and occasionally through the winter to keep insects away.

If you are going to be cooking with your herbs be sure to use a good organic fertilizer and an all natural insecticidal soap(if necessary).

Herbs like Echinacea and Scented Geranium have long been enjoyed as perennial flowers in the garden. Oregano and Thyme between your roses are breathtaking. Mint and Creeping Rosemary in planters adds a scented dimension that will delight you. Try a few in your garden, you will be surprised and pleased with the performance, smell and look of herbs.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

How To Keep Critters Out Of The Garden

Rabbits, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, gophers, moles, voles and ground hogs are probably our biggest challenge in our vegetable and flower gardens. Following are a few easy tips on how to get rid of these pests:

There are all natural repellents such as ShakeAway, Liquid Fence, Deer Away and Critter Ridder.

These all natural repellents all work well and all work in different ways.

Shake Away is a granular Predator Urine product. This is a fantastic product. It creates the scent of predators such as fox, coyote and bobcat. They will not wash away in the rain and do not evaporate. They are not messy or highly stinky, like their liquid counterparts. They even have one for cats.

Liquid Fence Products such as their Mole and Vole repellent are odor and taste based repellents. Mole and Vole is all natural liquid that is sprayed and gets down into the soil to coat the roots of plants and earthworms. Their tasty meal is no longer tasty. They simply go elsewhere to look for food. It is long lasting and won't harm vegetation.

Critter Ridder by Havahart comes as a granular or a liquid and is listed OMRI organic. It will repel skunks, ground hogs, squirrels, racoons, dogs and cats. They are both pepper and capsaicin based products.

Critter Ridder Deer and Rabbit repels by scent and it lasts up to 3 months. It is also listed OMRI organic.

These are all safe, natural products. There are a few other items that also work well. Human hair and dog fur will also work. Human hair works the best. Go to your local Barber Shop and ask for some hair. Yeah, they might look at you a little funny at first, but they will think you are a genius when you tell them what its for. Put it around the perimeter of your garden. This will decompose naturally. It may need to be applied once or twice. With all these products, once a Critter knows your garden or flower beds are not a safe or tasty place to go...they usually will not come back.

Happy Gardening!