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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Enchanted Evenings

A moonlit garden is enchanting, but sometimes the moon needs a little help shedding light on a garden’s nighttime beauty. That’s when it’s time to turn to technology.

>> read “Enchanted Evenings”       #Design   #Misc   #Tech & Gadgets
A Kitchen Garden in 5 Easy Steps

Do you have a yard full of grass and a longing for fresh produce to feed your family? Why not install a kitchen garden? One that is easy to build and won’t require much maintenance, where you can grow fresh veggies, small fruits, herbs, and maybe even some cut flowers.

Sound too good to be true? Follow these 5 simple steps and you will be growing in no time.

>> read “A Kitchen Garden in 5 Easy Steps”       #Design   #Edibles   #Raised Beds
The Procrastinator’s Garden

If you are reading this well after Memorial Day, and you are wishing you had planted a vegetable garden this spring, but think now it is too late, you are in luck. It is not too late to plant a vegetable garden and reap an abundant harvest.

>> read “The Procrastinator’s Garden”       #Raised Beds   #Summer   #Vegetables
Waterwise Garden Design

There was a time when I thought of water as a renewable resource. Deep down, I still want to believe this. Although our water supply is replenished (some years more than others), the distribution of water over my property varies. The gain doesn’t always equal the loss though – some years we take more than nature gives.

Since I come from an area that receives an average of 44 inches of rain a year, you may be surprised to hear me touting waterwise garden design. Out West, this is a way of life. However, on the East Coast, we have experienced long periods of drought in recent years. If Raleigh’s annual rainfall came as 1 inch every week, there would be little need for waterwise design. But it doesn’t. Summers, in particular, can be hot and dry. It wasn’t until we experienced the worst drought in 100 years, with outdoor watering restrictions and no major rain in sight, that I began to take note ...

>> read “Waterwise Garden Design”       #Design   #Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency   #Xeriscaping
Avoiding Bad Neighbors
Keep these plants away from each other

Everyone has had an experience with a bad neighbor. There are various reasons for considering a neighbor “bad,” but most of them have an element of “chemistry” in them somewhere. Some people just don’t get along. It’s no different in the plant world. Since plants are restricted in place and not able to move away from bad or undesirable neighbors, they must employ other methods. Plant communities use chemistry to repel or subdue those that may pose a threat to a thriving population.

>> read “Avoiding Bad Neighbors”       #Advice   #Beneficials   #Vegetables
High and Dry
Vegetables for when Mother Nature turns up the heat

A kitchen garden’s survival during a drought, or periods drier than normal requires planning, preparing and making smart, water-saving decisions along the way.

>> read “High and Dry”       #Irrigation   #Summer   #Vegetables
Tasty Ways to Support Your Local Farmers

With scares over contaminated, big-ag produce the last few years, consumers have become more interested in where their food comes from, how it is grown and how far it traveled to get to their tables.

People have become more interested in growing their own vegetables and herbs, or when space and time do not allow for that, they shop at farmers markets. Some consumers take it a step further and partner with a farmer to grow their food through a community supported agriculture program, or CSA.

>> read “Tasty Ways to Support Your Local Farmers”       #Advice   #Edibles   #Homesteading
Fruit Tree Friends

Companion planting is the idea that certain plants attract beneficial insects and fix soil nutrients in the edible garden. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world out there; it’s a bug-eat-bug world that forms the food chain that feeds us.

Fresh fruit picked off your own trees is a hot horticultural pursuit these days. Homeowners envision delectable apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries dripping from their trees. Well, truth be told, there’s a lot of work that goes into those beautiful fruits. Bumps and blemishes from an army of fruit tree pests are the reality of the orchardist.

>> read “Fruit Tree Friends”       #Beneficials   #Fruit   #Trees
From Drab to Fab: Half-Hardy Salvias for Summer Fun

My first garden experiences with tropical sages were a bit drab. Six-packs of mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea) from the grocery store bloomed through the summer with flowers the color of new Levis. The next year, to be fancy, I grew the seed strain ‘Strata’. Its flowers were closer to the color of dirty overalls. Then, of course, there was red Texas sage (Salvia coccinea) and its variety ‘Lady in Red’ — far more elegant in name than in physical reality — plus its bizarre faded pink variant ‘Coral Nymph’.

Yes, they were reliable. They needed little attention, they tolerated heat and drought, and stayed colorful throughout the summer. But they didn’t do anything that a plastic cactus wouldn’t.

>> read “From Drab to Fab: Half-Hardy Salvias for Summer Fun”       #Colorful   #Flowers   #Summer
Sorry, We’re Closed

Gardening is harder than it looks … just when we think we know what we’re doing, our beds are attacked by outside forces. How to prevent ultimate defeat? Rather, how to be at war with nature, when you’re trying to be in harmony? Be your garden’s ally – provide adequate reinforcements by instituting an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan using some of these methods. As with insects, our ecosystem is delicate. Please think through your actions carefully – you wouldn’t want to go get your legs waxed and end up leaving with a bald head.

>> read “Sorry, We’re Closed”       #How to   #Pests   #Wildlife
Short, Tall and In Between
Design tips for a beautiful garden at all levels

Each gardener, whether novice or experienced, begins a new garden full of fresh hopes and desires. Desires vary – one gardener may wish to grow fanciful flowers in a cutting garden; others may want a wildlife habitat with diverse plantings to feed birds, bees and butterflies. Another may want to grow a vegetable garden, with an added desire to make it as beautiful as it is functional.

>> read “Short, Tall and In Between”       #Advice   #Design
Wasps: Garden Friends or Foes?

When most people think of wasps, they think of paper wasps, and they probably think of them only as pests because of unpleasant past encounters with these stinging insects. However, the world of wasps is much larger and more complex than this! Our gardens abound with hundreds of species of wasps that vary greatly in size and life habits. Most of the wasps in our gardens are tiny, parasitic species that do not sting people and go largely unnoticed. These are definitely friends because they help control pest insects. There is also a group of wasps known as sawflies whose larvae look like caterpillars and feed on plants. These are usually foes because they damage landscape plants. Two other groups of wasps are the social wasps, such as paper wasps, and the solitary wasps, such as mud daubers and cicada killers. Wasps in both these groups are capable of stinging, and they definitely qualify as foes when they do so, but paper wasps also have a beneficial side.

>> read “Wasps: Garden Friends or Foes?”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Pests
 
 
 

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