Thursday, 25 April 2013

Spring is a great season to start your vegetable garden

Do you regard gardening as a hobby or a duty you can’t seem to get out of? Ever wondered what your garden looks like from an outsider’s point of view? Does it have beautiful flowering plants, trees, a lush green lawn and other landscaping features? Whatever you may have in your garden, you will always have some questions unanswered when it comes to taking care of it month after month in every different season.

Fortunately, you have answers right here like choosing the right plants to fertilizing, watering, maintaining the landscape and protecting it from pests. Having a beautiful looking garden does not come easily without time and effort. Some homeowners find it difficult to devote some of their leisure time to their gardens, which in turn will consequently suffer from lack of care and maintenance. However, with a little time and effort the resulting look of your outdoor space can achieve great results. 

Here are five important tips listed below to help you maintain your garden yourself without too much time, effort and money.

Choose the right plants and trees

Springtime is one of the best seasons to plan activities in your home’s outdoor area and what can be better than your own garden. There is always a sense of joy and satisfaction when you cook meals with your very own home grown veggies. If you want to get in on the delight of turning your garden into a mini food supply area then you will know the benefits of edible landscaping. Before starting on your spring vegetable garden, keep in mind that there should be a balance between the planting of ornamental and edible plants so that the natural process is instigated for the entire garden. Create a plan that allows you to plant seasonal vegetables, fruits and plants within the confines of your own property. A kaleidoscope of colors can be achieved with a different variety of trees, perennial plants, edible plants, herbs and shrubs. Never be afraid to experiment with your garden as there are many combinations to choose from like the colors and textures of edibles in your garden. To know more information on when to plant what, take a look at some of the tips mentioned below in your quest for achieving a beautiful yet tasty edible landscape.
  • Seed Order - The first thing to do when you witness the last few days or weeks of frost free dates in your region, is to take time and sort out the seeds of what should be grown in cool climatic conditions and what can be grown in hot climatic conditions.
  • Check to see if the soil is workable – As soon as the ground can be worked in your garden, you can start planting onions, spinach and peas. If you are planning to grown your own seedlings, you can start on them indoors, approximately eight weeks before transplanting them outdoors.
  • What to plant during early spring – When it is just two weeks prior to the last frost free date, you can get started on carrots, radishes, beets, cilantro, broccoli, lettuce, dill, kale, potatoes and celery. Transplanting is not required for these herbs and vegetables and you can directly sow the seeds in the garden soil. Some things to keep in mind are that celery and lettuce seeds need light to germinate and it is important to lightly cover these seeds with soil during the planting process.
  • What to plant after the last frost – When the last few days of frost are over, it can be safe to plant melons, cucumbers, corn, beans, tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant, pumpkin and basil. Always remember to check the temperature in your area before planting outside. You can directly sow corn and bean seeds in your garden soil. Pole beans need a support like a fence or trellis as the plant is a climbing vine. Corn seeds should not be planted in a row but you can do so in four short rows to ensure and encourage good and proper pollination. Peppers, tomatoes and eggplant seeds should not be directly sowed onto soil but start on them indoors just about eight weeks before transplanting them to your outdoor garden. Any buds that appear on the pepper seedlings should be removed before transplanting them outdoors to make sure that the roots have grown large enough to support the plant. You can start planting squash and tomato seeds approximately six to seven weeks before moving them into the outdoor garden. Before four to six weeks of the last frost date, plant eggplant seeds in four-inch pots and do not start them on flat ground as they are sensitive and prone to transplant shock. To produce an early harvest of squash, start on them in advance in your indoor area. You can plant winter squashes three weeks prior to transplanting them outdoors as they need at least three months of proper nurturing to produce a good harvest. Older squash seeds do not transport well. You can start on melons and cucumbers indoors during cooler regions for a better harvest. But make sure that you transplant them gently because their roots are sensitive and do not like to be disturbed. Another fact is that melons are heat loving plants so if you live in a cooler region, you may need to use row covers or plastic mulch to provide enough warmth for them to thrive and grow. Most vegetables require seven to eight hours of good sunlight every day. Vegetables that grow in cooler seasons can get on with six hours while some can be grown in partial shade or indoors. The correct soil recipe that can be used for your garden requires 50% garden soil, 25% aged manure, 25% quality compost or humus.
By following these simple guidelines and tips, you can have a successful vegetable garden starting from the spring season and throughout the course of the year. It’s important to keep track of the progress of your plants to help you learn and become a better gardener year after year.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Fast Growing Trees of California

Have you ever planted a sapling and waited and waited for it to grow quickly just so that it provides shade and a wonderful ambience for your garden? You can add some cool and comforting beauty to your landscape by planting trees in strategic spots in your yard or garden. Trees provide for screening, shade and ornamental beauty all throughout the year. Experts say that slow growing trees stay stronger and live longer. So most of us who would like trees that gain height and fill out fast will most probably possess qualities that will render it a weakling or pest. If you would like to plant a tree that will grow the right way without damaging your landscape or house, choose ones which provide for your garden or yard in different seasons, six to seven years after planting. Soil that contains adequate nutrients and moisture is optimum for the growth of trees. So it’s important to choose saplings that you can enjoy for the short and long term. 

There are a few list of tress which have been distinguished for shade, screening and ornamental purposes that will make it easier for you to choose from what best suits your garden and environment. 

Shade Trees

These kinds of trees are deciduous which can grow to at least 50 feet in height. They develop broad crowns which is useful for proper shade under which you can rest, walk or entertain.
  • Northern Red Oak is a classic tree with broad crowns that likes good amount of sun, well-drained, moist, acid soil for growth. You can avoid planting these trees in the Oregon and California region as it can fall prey to sudden oak death disease. It grows to 60–75 feet high with a good broad base.
  • Freeman Maple is a hybrid tree with brilliant and beautiful red-orange fall color. It prefers good amount of sunshine with well-drained, moist soil with neutral amount of pH for growth. It grows 75–80 feet in height with a width of 45–50 feet.
  • Green Vase Zelkova is a vase-shaped tree with rich, dark green leaves and upright arching branches. The leaves turn a bronze maroon color in fall. It prefers full sun to partial shade and adapts well to a variety of soils. It grows to 60–70 feet in height with a width of 40–50 feet. It tolerates and withstands drought, pollution and wind making it a viable tree.
  • Tulip Tree has an oval crown and straight trunk with broad, striking, lobed leaves that conceals its chartreuse tulip-shaped flowers during the spring season. The leaves turn yellow in color during the fall season and the tree prefers full amount of sunshine with moist, deep and slightly acidic soil for growth. It grows 75–90 feet in height with a width of 40–50 feet.

Screening Trees

These kinds of trees provide privacy by blocking second or third story views into your garden and also block blunt northern winds. You can plant them alone or in groups and rows depending on their spread.
  • Dawn Redwood are humongous pyramidal tree with a striking, deep-fluted bark and feathery, fluffy deciduous green needles that will turn russet-orange in color during the fall season. It prefers full sun, well-drained, moist, slightly acidic soil for growth. It grows 70–100 feet in height with a width of 25 feet.
  • European Black Alder is an oval-shaped deciduous tree that is useful for edging a pool or is useful in providing an informal screen in a damp, wet area. It prefers full sun with partial shade and wet soil for growth. It grows 40–60 feet in height with a width of 20–40 feet.
  • Green Giant Arborvitae is an evergreen with a homogeneous pyramidal shape that is used as hedging or as a single specimen with no need for shearing. It is adaptable and prefers full sun, well-drained, moist soil for growth. It grows 50–60 feet in height with a width of 12–20 feet.

Ornamental Trees

These trees are the ultimate showboats of a landscape. They provide multi seasonal appeal with a striking bark, impressive structure and beautiful flowers.
  • Sargent Cherry Clouds has a shiny, reddish-brown bark with pink flowers that open in early spring before the leaves appear. They turn orange-red in color during fall color and the small, dark, summer fruit attract birds. It prefers full amount of sunshine and moist, acidic, well-drained neutral soil. It grows 20–30 feet in height and width.
  • Heritage River Birch is a multi-stemmed tree with deciduous leathery green leaves that turn yellow in color during fall. It develops an irregular crown with a salmon-white to brownish peeling bark and prefers partial shade, moist and acid soil for growth. It grows 40–60 feet in height and width.
  • Sweet Bay Magnolia is a tree that is deciduous in the North and evergreen in the South. With lustrous and glossy dark green leaves with silvery undersides, it produces lemon-scented creamy white flowers in during the spring/early summer season. It prefers partial shade, acid, moist soil for growth. It grows 10–20 feet in height and width.
  • 'Natchez' Crape Myrtle is a multi stemmed tree with recurring, abundant white flowers during the months of June to September. It has a characteristic exfoliating cinnamon-brown bark all through the year. It works well curbside where it won’t interfere and mess with utility lines and grows 20–30 feet in height with a width of 15–35 feet.