Beating Garden Weeds with Mulch

Weeds in your garden can be a major issue, they can take over your whole garden if not kept under control. Garden weeds will steal the water and nutrients that your plants need to survive and produce great fruits and vegetables.

You can spend a lot of your hours digging and pulling out these unwanted weeds, or you can spend a little bit of time adding some organic mulch to your garden and stop picking weeds and add important nutrients as well.

Grass clippings for use as vegetable garden mulch

The Easy Option: Organic Mulches

Mulching is an excellent method of perennial weed control. It provides a barrier that keeps weeds well below the surface, where most will eventually die due to lack of sunlight. Mulches work particularly well around perennial crops such as fruit trees and bushes, but can be used with annual crops too. It’s not an instant solution, but it will help you to keep on top of weeds and does away with regular epic weeding sessions.

Landscape fabric can be used but is not, in my experience, a great idea. It’s a quick fix, but eventually it will need attention. The fabric will degrade and break up over time, allowing weeds through. Removing weeds that have their roots tangled up in landscape fabric is, quite frankly, a pain in the bum.

Organic mulches, on the other hand, are wonderful because they not only suppress weeds but help to build better soil over time. This gives them a clear advantage, not only over landscape fabric, but over digging out weeds too.

Newspaper mulch in a fruit garden

The first thing you need to do is put down a weed barrier. Newspaper is ideal (cardboard is okay too) as a permeable, completely biodegradable, soil-enhancing alternative to landscape fabric. Lay your newspaper five or six sheets thick and overlap them generously to avoid gaps that weeds could push up through, then soak it well. Cover the newspaper (or cardboard) with at least two or three inches (5-8cm) of loose, well-rotted organic mulch.

Well-rotted garden compost, manure, sawdust, shredded bark, leafmold, coir, or a mixture of organic materials, all work well as mulch.

Maintaining a Weed-Suppressing Mulch

It’s important to replenish organic mulches as they rot down. This does make them more work than landscape fabric, but you will be rewarded with rich, friable soil. Grass clippings or straw can also be used to top up your mulch. Add another inch or two of organic matter every couple of months, or more often if you like. For instance, once or twice a month I will spread grass clippings from mowing the lawn onto my fruit and vegetable beds.

Raspberries with grass clipping mulch

I won’t lie – occasionally a weed does force its way through. But not many! And any weeds that do make it through can simply be yanked out by hand. Don’t worry too much about getting every last scrap of root, as you’ll continue to mulch and keep weeds below the surface. Tearing off the top growth means the plant can’t photosynthesize, so each time you do this, the plant weakens. You’ll probably find that annual weeds germinate in the top layer of mulch, but a quick scruffle over with a hoe every week or two will see these off.

To begin with, avoid using tools to lever any weeds out of the soil, as you will risk puncturing the newspaper layer. In the second year you can start using a tool to help remove any really persistent weeds if you wish. A dandelion weeder, incidentally, does a stellar job of uprooting just about any weed I’ve encountered; its twin prongs get right under the crown of the weed and make it easy to lever it out with minimal soil disturbance.

Hoping you have a weedless garden.

 

Great DIY Planters!

Wash Tub planter

Using planters to liven up your yard or patio is a wonderful idea, instead of a stationary garden where you are pretty much stuck with where it is at, planters can be moved to new locations to allow for changes you may decide on in the future.

If you look thru your garden shed, garage or even the attic, you may find some fun things that will make great DIY planters. If you don’t find anything there, take a look at your parents or maybe a close neighbor has some items they are looking to get rid that they think is junk, you could turn it to a beautiful planter.

Old pots or buckets make great DIY planters.

Cheap garden planters

   Photo source: DIY and Mag

 

An old wheelbarrow or garden cart will make a great planter that can be moved and have different flower arrangements depending on the location.

Creative-DIY-Garden-Container

 Photo source: empressofdirt.net

 

Using your imagination can lead to using almost anything for a garden planter. Have some wood pallets laying around. Go here to see some wonderful pallet planter ideas.

 

Make an old sink into a lovely garden planter.

an old sink in a garden makes a cute planter - especially with the dishes added!:

Photo: dishfunctionaldesigns.blogspot.com

 

Attach a dish pan to an old chair and you have these wonderful planters.

old chair planter trio:

Head over to the Next Page to see some more great planter ideas.

 

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Combating Bugs in Your Garden!

Garden Bugs

Any gardener would be delighted to have a bug free garden, you put in so much time and effort to grow vegetable and flowers just to have them destroyed is frustrating.

Keeping harmful bugs out of your garden can be a daunting task. Just as you get your plants growing nicely, along comes some bug to wipe them out. Being prepared a head of time and doing things that attract predatory insects such as lady bugs and praying mantis, and also bird and toads will help keep the bad bug population in check.

Keeping you plants healthy with proper irrigation and weeding, is also important to helping them survive an insect infestation from devouring all your hard work.

The video will give you some great tips on protecting your precious plants.

 

Urban Gardening Tips

Urban Garden

With more of us becoming conscious of what we eat and where it come from, more people living in urban areas are planting gardens. Whether you live in a house or an apartment there is always room for growing your own vegetables. Think indoors and vertical if need be.

Here are some urban gardening tips to help you with your planting.

1. Plant in Winter, Transplant in Spring

Contrary to popular belief, gardening can be a year round hobby. By starting to plant your crops — whether herbs, vegetables, or fruits— indoors during the cold winter months, you’re giving them an increased likelihood of making it to adulthood when planted outside.

For those of you who started with seeds indoors during the winter, now (spring) is the time to transplant seedlings.

2. Pay Attention to Soil Temperature

Soil temperature has a direct correlation with germination, so it is important to keep plants that have a similar temperature threshold in the same area. Cauliflower, celery, and cucumbers are all great planting companions with a soil temperature sweet spot of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Use Technology to Plan Ahead

Want to design the perfect outdoor garden? By using Google Earth’s free satellite imagery, you can easily plan your garden layout for free.

Live in an apartment? Google Sketchup is a great free computer aided design (CAD) tool that can allow you to design an indoor garden, as well.

4. Don’t Fall Victim to Drought

With water conservation top-of-mind for all gardeners, drought-resistant plants and vegetables make the perfect addition to any garden, especially in those drier months. Beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, pumpkins, and summer squash are all varieties of drought-tolerant veggies.

Another smart tip for the drought-conscious: installing a drip irrigation system that connects to your washing machine or a rain barrel can save up to 80 percent more water than a traditional irrigation system by watering plants at their roots where water is less likely to evaporate. This system also allows farmers and gardeners to schedule watering cycles for later in the day, when the weather is cooler.

Thanks to doityourself.com for this helpful tips.

Growing your own garden, not only gives you safer food to eat, you can have fun doing it.

Going vertical with you garden will help you grow more in less space. Go Here is a some tips on building a vertical garden

Kids in the Garden

Kids in the garden

It might sound like a bad thing, but children love to play in the dirt, so having them help you, or make a place in your garden just for them, will have many advantages. They will learn how things grow, responsibility, caring, and how much better home grow food tastes.

 

Getting Children Involved in Gardening

There’s no secret to getting children interested in gardening. Encourage them to help with what you’re doing and, to use an appropriate metaphor, the seeds will be sown.

As well as watering, children love to help with the picking, digging up and – under supervision – cutting of ready-to-eat produce. Give toddlers a child’s tool set and they can dig, scratch about and potter alongside you.

When they’re a little older, it’s time to offer them some space of their own. My parents encouraged me with a small area of garden that was entirely my responsibility. It wasn’t big – but it was mine and that was very exciting! In it I grew some spinach and radishes, which successfully produced a harvest, despite my obsessive prodding, preening and poking. By the age of ten I had a full-blown vegetable garden to call my own.

Of course, you will need to encourage and guide your youngsters. So start them off with crops that are easy: radishes and spinach can be joined by just about any salad leaves, scallions, beans – especially pole beans that put on height almost by the hour, beets, zucchini and, of course, potatoes. Many seed companies sell seeds specifically aimed at a younger audience, so try these easy-to-grow options first.

Child's garden

In all but the hottest climates a sunny part of the garden will give the strongest growth and, hence, the best results. You may be tempted to tuck their plot out of the way, but a prime position will avoid disappointment and help make enthusiastic gardeners out of them! By offering a clean slate – a patch of fertile ground that’s clear of weeds and ready to sow – you can get them off to a flying start; maintaining their plants and keeping on top of weeds will be a lot less daunting as a result.

Thanks for the great article growveg.com

As the garden get started, they will have the enjoyment of watching thing sprout and grow and then bear their fruit for picking and enjoying.

 

Simple Hacks Make Better Gardening

We love to dig in and get our gardens growing nicely, so we can enjoy the wonderful things we grow. Sometimes things could go just a little bit better.

If you want a few simple hacks that make better gardening by using short cuts and ideas that will save you time and effort, while helping your garden thrive.

Check out the video for 10 of these little tricks.

 

 

Check out some of our other grat gardening articles below.

DIY Barrel Planter

Small Barrel Planter

Building a great planter for your deck or backyard is simple with just an old plastic barrel and a couple of  pallets or some other scrape wood.

You can cut the barrel to any size you like and then wrap it with your wood, stain or paint it and you have a beautiful DIY barrel planter.

You will need:

Plastic barrel

Scrape wood: 2×4’s,  1×3’s and some 1×4’s.

Some nails or screws, Nail gun or screw gun. You can of course do it by hand.

A circular or jig saw. A hand saw will also work

Some sand paper and sanding device if you want to take the rustic look away.

Some stain or paint depending on the look you desire.

 

Start with deciding on the height you want your planter, then mark a line around the top of the barrel 3 inches shorter then the finished height you want your planter. Cut the barrel along that line.

Cut Barrel

Drill some holes in the bottom of the barrel so water will drain through and not saturate the plant roots.

Cut 2 – 2×4’s on angles and attach them to the bottom of the barrel for feet.

Barrel Planter feet

Then cut your side planks ( 1×3″s) 1/2″ shorter than the height from the ground to the top of your barrel, this will allow you to keep them 3/4″ off the ground and your top will fit nicely.

Place a scrape of 1x on the ground, under the planks as you install them for a spacer and to keep them even. Secure them to the barrel with nails or screws.

Barrel Planter planks

 

Then you will need to cut 8 – 1×4’s to make the top, cut each end on a 22.5 degree angle one left and one right on all pieces. The length of the boards will depend on the size of you planter.

Large Barrel Planter

 

Before you install the wood or after you have finished assembly you can stain of paint you planter is you desire.

Photos courtesy of Do It Yourself.

Happy planting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Great Gardening Tips

Gardening tips

Anyone who does any gardening could use some helpful tips to help your plants grow better and make gardening just a little simpler.  Thinks like how to protect seedlings or ways to keep plants watered when you can’t get to them are great tips.

Check out the video below for more useful gardening tips.

https://youtu.be/C4Lt6UgxJIQ?t=16s

 

Plant a Garden on Your Deck or Patio!

tomato-bucket-planter

If you want to grow some herbs or vegetables, but don’t have a lot of room for a traditional garden, or maybe you know someone who is handicapped in some way, that getting to a garden would be tough, consider using a grow box and plant a garden on your deck or patio.

This great idea from Old World Garden Farms, with plans to build their grow boxes, that allow for growing plant in a pot inside the box, which looks great and has a built in trellis for staking things like tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, etc. so they grow up off the ground for a great harvest.

The grow boxes virtually eliminate weeding. and make chores such as planting, watering, harvesting and fall clean-up a breeze. Combine multiple grow boxes with a few small raised beds for crops such as lettuce and beans – and you have a full-fledged low-maintenance vegetable garden!

Even better – by scouring up a few 5 gallon buckets, making home-made compost, your own soil mix, and using pallet wood to build your boxes – you can virtually make an entire garden for free.  

Building The Grow Boxes

grow boxes
You can use any wood material to build your box. These are pieces of rough sawn barn lumber cut and ready to assemble.

Since the soil and plants never come in contact with the wood – you can use reclaimed lumber or pallets to build your boxes  – meaning they can be made for little to no cost. You can also use traditional 2 x 6 framing or treated lumber as a low-cost alternative. All work and look great – and can be painted or stained to dress up the finished box. 

No matter what size – the building process is the same. You need to simply make sure that the completed box is large enough to fit over the container you will be using – and that there is enough room left to install either the metal or wooden trellis. 

 

Let’s use a 5 gallon bucket as an example.

Grow Boxes
Attaching trim pieces

Most 5 gallon buckets measure 12″ wide and about 14″ to 14.5″ high. So by creating a grow box with a minimum 14″x 14″ inside measurement and a height of 15″ – you leave plenty of space for the bucket and the trellis inside, and enough height to cover the bucket.  

2″ x 6″ framing or 1″ x 6″ decking lumber actually work great for the 5 gallon bucket grow boxes – creating a perfect 15″ x 15″ inside diameter when put together and overlapped on the ends. (see picture).  To hold the boxes together – we attach a simple trim piece to the bottom and top of the grow box.

To read the rest of the article visit Old World Garden Farms, whom we thank for this great DIY idea.

Natural Backyard Privacy!

Privacy trees

Natural Fencing

Here are ways you can get the backyard privacy you want naturally. Using plants and trees will not only give you privacy but help the environment as well and they look great. Even if you have a small yard this will work for you.

Fences made from wood still use many resources for production and transportation. Building a natural fence by planting trees and shrubs will reduce the impact on the environment and add mush needed greenery back in the world.

Natural backyard privacy fence does more then just keep unwanted eyes out of your space, they also help reduce noise from streets and neighboring properties. A natural fence will also block the wind and keep snow from blowing and drifting.

There are many different type of plants that can be used for great looking natural fencing. Evergreens are great for year round privacy, while deciduous plant provide spring flowering and nice fall colors they do not provide year round protection. Using plants native to your area will help reduce their need additional water and food.

A natural backyard privacy fence can also provide food and shelter for a variety of wildlife, such as birds and other critters.

privacy-hedge

Let’s head over to the Next Page and do some natural backyard planning.

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