Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Will a commode planted with flowers overflowing the bowl sound downright fanciful?

There are no rules to follow . . . that is the best part of using your wild imagination in turning your trash into garden treasures.  But of course, there are some guidelines that we must consider like its sturdiness, its ability to withstand all kinds of weather, and safety among others.

With your creativity, artistic inclination and being bold will not stop you from creating items unexpected to stand in your garden majestically and with pride.

Have you ever thought of these following daring ideas to be in your garden and catching surprise glimpse and awes?

Old Bed Frame 

You can paint it with bright or pastel colors.  You  may cut its leg to have it sit closer to the ground or you may opt not to cut the legs. Then fill where the mattress would be with gardening soil and plant with abundance of flowers.  The flower blooms will make the bed appear dressed in its best spread. An antique iron headboard can be used to plant petunias.  A “bed” of flowers can be a focal point in the garden.

Old Carriage

Old Toilet

You can also paint it with attractive colors such as lavender, pink, red or what ever color that may contrast or complement the flowers that will be planted in it.  You can paint it with some artistic designs.  Flowers will be happy to sit on this repurposed seat.

Old Boat

Just looking around your house, community, or even at the dumpsters will give you countless ideas that some people may not imagine to re-purpose

Can you express your artistic ability through recycling unwanted objects?

Would you like to be an inspiration to others by using found objects that will add personality to your garden?

It would it be exciting and challenging to take your garden to a whole new level and personalize with your own repurposed/recycled decorations.
Will you enjoy the benefits of saving money by using the repurposed item?
If yes, here are some suggested ways to repurpose the once loved objects in your home to wonderful pieces of art.

Old Bicycle

Old Shoes


Old wooden box

Old Luggage

Old fire hydrant

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Wood and Leaves Ashes as Natural Fertilizer and Other Practical Uses

Ashes are beneficial as natural fertilizer to plants because they contain potassium which is a major plant nutrient and other minor nutrients.  Yet, it can be harmful to some plants because it is highly alkaline. Therefore, there is a need to be careful on how and where to use the wood ashes in the garden. 

Azaleas, rhododendrons, junipers, conifers, and camellias are some of the plants that are not suited for wood ashes because of its acid-loving nature.  On the other hand, a small quantity can pump up the growth of calcium-loving tomatoes and roses.

Nutrients:   Wood ashes contain potassium, calcium, minerals, iron, phosphate, copper, zinc and magnesium carbonate.  However, it loses much of its nutrient value if they are left to stand in the rain because potassium and other water soluble nutrients leach out with water.

Uses:  You can spread around the perimeter of the flower beds to repel or deter slugs and snails due to its salt content.

The ashes enrich the organic compounds of compost.  If you have water ponds, it can help the water plants compete with algae by slowing its growth. It can also be used to shine silverware, brass, glass, de-melt ice, scourer, lye in making soap, mulch, spot remover on wood furniture, traction on winter, and odor-neutralizer.

How Much Should Be Applied:  To avoid excessive saline and alkaline, try to limit ash application to 5 lbs./100 feet of soil/ year. 

When to Apply:  The ashes must be completely cooled down before using it to amend the soil.  To give better results, it is advised to apply ashes 3-4 weeks before planting.  Fall is generally the best time to apply wood ashes because soil pH is lower and soil is usually drier at this time.  It will also give plenty of time for the soil to react before spring growth.

What to Avoid: To avoid burning, germinating seeds and new plant roots must be few inches away from the freshly applied ashes.  Water the plants that got in touch with the ashes to avoid the foliage from burning. Chemical applications should be avoided for 3 to 5 days prior to or after wood ash application to give time for the ashes to neutralize in the soil.

Do you know that grass clippings can provide your lawn some valuable nutrients when left on the ground right after they were mowed?

The grass clippings left on the lawn will eventually decompose and recycle its nutrients back to the soil.  But, it must be kept at minimum.  By cutting the grass when it reaches around 3 to 31/2 inches tall, the volume of the grass clippings will be kept low.

As Mulch:  Grass clippings on the lawn make the soil softer and help in the grass drought tolerance.  During the decomposition stage, the clippings help shade the soil and keep the roots cooler and help reduce moisture loss just like any mulch that you put around your other plants.

As fertilizer:  Don’t throw away the grass trimmings/clippings because they are valuable organic matters that are full of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and will help minimize your expenses on grass fertilizer by around 30 percent or even equivalent to one year fertilizer application.

Other Uses of Grass Clippings:  Used as mulch around trees , shrubs and flowers.  It can also be mixed with leaves and fruit/ vegetable kitchen trimmings for composting. 

Grass clippings should not comprise more than half of the volume in the pile to avoid offensive odor.

When to Collect Grass Clippings: 


The grass clippings can clump or damage the lawn if the grass is too long, wet and if the grass has disease.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Do you realize that it is less expensive to have proper lawn maintenance than repair and restoration?

 Due to ignorance, carelessness or unwise spending, homeowners commit  some mistakes which lead to detrimental and costly problems.

Cutting lawn too short to save time and money between mows. 
One rule of thumb to keep in mind is never cut one-third of the grass blade off at a time. You will run the risk of scalding and stressing your grass.  It will also affect optimum root and new shoot growth if you mow shorter than the recommended height. Cutting more than 1/3 of grass blades weakens root system. Another point to consider, your grass grows up instead of out when you regularly mow your grass higher than the recommended height. Knowing the right height to cut your grass makes or breaks your efforts to a great-looking lawn.

Not planting on the right depth, spacing and sun exposure. 

Right root ball preparation is needed to accommodate the plant’s growth needs to thrive better.  There are plants that need partial or full sun exposure.  Giving not the right exposure will kill or stunt the growth of the plants.

Not giving the plants with its needed right amount of water. 

The rule of thumb says most garden plants need 1” of water per week in growing season. If the weather is very hot, it is advised that you apply an inch of water every three days. Watering to a depth of 4-6” encourages a healthier and deeper root development.

Establishing deeper roots will provide greater stability and makes it more droughts tolerant Young plants need extensive watering than more mature plants that have established their root systems.

Place an empty tuna can on your lawn while watering to measure the water.  Stop watering when you noticed that the can is already full and running off the lawn.  Plant growth can be stunted by over or under watering.

Watering at the wrong time of the day.

To reduce evaporation, early morning or at night is the best time to water the plants. If you cannot water early morning, it is better to have it done late in the afternoon or after sunset for water to have the chance to absorb it without the sun drying the soil fast.

But for best results, it is advisable to water the plants early morning () to reduce waste by evaporation.

Irrigating in the evening increases the period of leaf wetness which may promote disease.

Water timer can be attached to any hose or faucet to regulate sprinklers and water hoses.

You can use soaker hoses any time of the day since it does not wet foliage. 

Water plants when it is not windy to control where the water goes.

Skimping on organic mulching.
Mulching should be a standard practice in gardening.  Some gardeners and homeowners forego the use of organic mulch because they do not realize its beneficial effects. Organic mulch promotes lawn growth with nitrogen in soil and reduces the need for fertilizing by one third during the season. 

According to the US Department of Agriculture, there are many striking benefits from applying mulch in our garden such as follows:

Conserves moisture by the reduction of the amount of soil water lost through evaporation.
Maintains uniform soil temperature.  Mulch serves as insulator thus keeping the soil warmer during cool weather and cooler during the warm months of the year.

Helps with weed problems.  Weed seeds in the soil will not germinate if it is weed-free and if applied correctly.

Gives neater and more finished appearance to a flower bed, evergreen or shrub plantings and vegetable garden.

Improper use of Fertilizer and Fertilizing out of season. 
Nitrogen(N), phosphorus(P) and potassium(K) are the nutrients necessary for plant health and growth. For healthy green growth and regulation of other nutrients, your plants need more of Nitrogen.  Phosphorus (P) is important in root development for young plants and for disease resistance.

Some people are careless and do not know how to apply the fertilizer properly.  Learn the proper fertilizer application for the plants to absorb the nutrients and little of these nutrients enters ground or surface water resources.  

Use the Right Fertilizer.  Have your soil tested to find out what nutrients are required by your plants.  Your local fertilizer dealer or Extension Service Office can be helpful to get information on obtaining a soil test.  It is important that you follow the fertilizer label as directed.  Sulphur-coated urea that has at least ¼ of the nitrogen in a slow-release form will help for healthy plant growth.
Tips on how to apply fertilizer properly:
To help the fertilizer move into the root zone rather than stay on top of the soil where it can be blown or washed away, apply fertilizer when the soil is moist and then water lightly.

Too much rain or sprinkler water will take away from the lawn’s root zone.  Avoid applying fertilizer when a heavy rain is predicted.

An application of 2 pounds of fertilizer five times a year is better than applying the 5 pounds of fertilizer twice a year.  Use the minimal amount of fertilizer necessary and apply it in frequent, small applications.

Calibrate your fertilizer spreader to be sure that you are discharging the right amount of fertilizer in a given space.

Cover the ends of the lawn first when spreading the fertilizer.  Then, using half of the recommended amount, go back and forth across the rest of the lawn.  Then, going back and forth perpendicular to the first pattern, apply the other half of the fertilizer.  To avoid over-application, be sure to shut the spreader off before reaching the ends.

Using powder products to treat lawn. 
Powder is cheaper but less effective because it is easily blown by the wind before it saturates to the soil.  Also, insecticide concentrates once mixed with water should be used within a few hours because the Ph of the water will break down the pesticide material quickly.  You can lose 50% of the pesticide solution within 24 to 48 hours upon mixing. 

Ignoring soil tests. 
It is best to know the Ph of your soil to determine what type of grass will successfully and healthily grow in your lawn. In addition to nutrients, your soil needs amending with lime. Most soil in Tennessee is acidic or sour and needs lime to be applied.

Not knowing the type of soil and its watering needs.
Watering needs depends on the type of your soil.  You don’t need to be a soil scientist or expert to know the proper way of watering your soil. Actively growing plants usually requires 1” to 1.5 “of water per week.

Try these tips:

To quickly absorb water and nutrients, loosen the soil around your plants.

To reduce evaporation and soil erosion, use 1” to 2” mulch on the soil surface above the root to serve as a protective layer.

Clay soil absorbs water very slowly.  Water only as fast as the soil absorbs it.  To help faster water and fertilizer absorption, loosen the soil by tilling or use spade.  Add organic material such as compost or peat moss to supplement the soil.

The water runs through sandy soil so quickly that plants won’t be able to absorb water and nutrients as much as they should.  To remedy, add organic materials to supplement sandy soil.

The best kind of soil is loam which is a combination of sand, silt and clay.  Loam absorbs water readily and stores it for the plants to use.

Misunderstanding the use of sod and seeds. 

With sod, you have an instant satisfaction of lush lawn and should be rooted and secured within two weeks.  Sods help in the reduction of soil erosion and require less watering. While it takes up to two years to mature and provide uniform cover when you seed the lawn.

Seeds fill in the gaps of the existing grass/turf and prevents against pests. One disadvantage of seeding is its tendency to be washed out and most likely you will need to seed again to fill spots where grass seeds did not have the chance to germinate.  Seeding is physically easier than laying sod, but requires more maintenance and has to be fertilized regularly and actively combat weeds because the grass will be more susceptible to weed invasion. 

While sod is more resistant to weeds because it roots quicker than when you do seeding. 

Installing sod and seeding lawns each have their pros and cons.  You need to consider cost and maintenance when deciding whether to sod or seed.


Obtaining the lawn and garden care quality that you desire

Pointers to Consider When Hiring Your Professional Lawn Care Provider

To obtain the lawn and garden care quality that you desire, you have to consider some criteria in choosing your lawn care provider.  Certain lawn maintenance requires expertise or specialized knowledge on product choice, application, timing, tools and equipment.  It is important to take into consideration the following in choosing your lawn care provider:

Reputation.  Ask for references or testimonials from the lawn care provider’s present and previous clients.  Refutable lawn care providers have a long list of references that they will be glad to provide for you. Besides customer testimonials, try to call Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been any complaints or problems reported on the service provider.

Membership to prestigious organizations.  Example, ServiceMagic makes rigorous background screening on its accredited professional organizations in order to receive its Seal of Approval.  The average rating score of its members is 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Customized services.  Is the lawn care provider willing to customize its management techniques to fit your lawn and garden requirements and schedule of services?

Willingness to share expertise.  Is the lawn care provider willing to explain the techniques and processes of the business so you can be assured that the services they will provide suit your needs and your desire to learn to achieve a well-maintained landscape?

Open to communications. Is the lawn care provider open to communications?  Communications is important between the client and the lawn care provider.  You can avert problems by clearly outlining your needs and expectations when you enter a relationship with your lawn care provider.  In addition to negotiating detailed service agreement, maintaining phone, email and person-to-person communications throughout your business relationship will make it easier to implement changes or deal with issues promptly.

Cost. Is the cost of service and/or materials reasonably priced?  In the lawn care services, there are several factors that are considered on how much you will be charged on the services that you will be provided for.  Some of these are the cost of maintenance and depreciation of tools and equipment, vehicle and equipment gas, materials and man-hour.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Every day across America, Asia and Europe, millions of pots of coffee and tea are brewed, use coffee by-products in the garden and farm

Millions of pounds of wet grounds, filters and bags are thrown in the trash.  Use coffee by-products in the garden and farm as follows:

Sprinkle used grounds around plants before rain or watering, for a slow-release nitrogen. A great natural plant fertilizer.

Add to compost piles to increase nitrogen balance.  Coffee filters and tea bags break down rapidly during composting.

Dilute with water for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer.  Use about a half-pound can of wet grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water; let sit outdoors to achieve ambient temperature.

Mix into soil for houseplants or new vegetable bed.

Encircle the base of the plant with a coffee and eggshell barrier to repel pests.

If you are into vermi-posting, feed a little bit to your worms .

Other ways of making use of your everyday household things into practical and useful reinvention:

Used CDs 
Glue two discs together with shiny sides face out and string together through the middle hole as you would a wind chime. Hang and the shimmering reflections will scare off thieving birds and raccoons.

Put a cake of soap in the foot when camping and tie the top end to a low-hanging tree branch. Cut into strips as a gentle way to tie plants securely to stakes. Cut across the leg to make rings, roll them up for a stretchy ponytail holder that won't break and damage hair like rubber bands do. Put some human hair clippings into toe of the stocking and place around the garden fence to keep deer away.

Small Plastic or Paper Objects for Starting Seeds
Small plastic and paper containers can be used for starting seeds indoors. Repurposing yogurt containers, egg cartons, and toilet paper rolls provides perfect containers for holding soil and starting small plants from seeds. Fill the containers with soil. Add 2-3 seeds to each container to ensure that one plant germinates in each container.

Seeds and Water
Most fruits and vegetables contain seeds that can be put to use in next year's garden. Save seeds from produce by washing them and allowing them to dry. You can store them in the freezer if you are not yet ready to germinate them in spring.

You can repurpose rainwater from the gutters.  Barrels, unwanted plastic storage bins, and old trash containers can all be repurposed for storing rainwater collected from gutters and down spouts.

Cardboard,egg cartons, toilet paper, newspaper,paper bags

Fill the egg cartons with soil, plant your seeds.  When it is planting time, cut the individual “egg cups” apart and plant the whole thing into the prepared hole.  The cardboard will eventually decompose and hold valuable moisture around the plants.

Toilet paper/paper towel rolls
Cut the rolls into rings 3-4 inches tall.  Place them on a cookie sheet, fill them with dirt and plant your seeds.  When you are ready to transplant the seedlings, use a spatula to lift them off the cookie sheet and bury into the garden without removing the rolls. They are biodegradable anyway.

Make your own small seedling pots out of newspaper using a tin can or glass jar as molds.

Brown Paper Bags
Tightly twisted bags make good fire starters with more staying power than newspaper. Or slit, poke holes throughout and use to line your flower garden before adding mulch or potting soil to reduce weeds and serve as a natural mulch.

Plastic Milk Jug
Turn into a watering can with a few holes punched into the plastic cap. Cut off the top and fill with bird seed.  You can also use the old pop or soda bottles to start seedlings and will also look good for flowing flowers.
Fill the containers with dirt and use them plants.  Stab small holes so water will not get stagnated.

In your garden, using repurposed old items as garden art will add whims and interest. And, a great way to recycle!

Actually anything under the sun will do, just use your limitless imagination. You can make your garden serve as an extension of the inside of your house.

    Old Ladders and Scrap Lumber
Make a potting station by laying the lumber between the rungs of the open ladder, creating shelves on which to lay pots, tools and bags of soil. To make the potting station stable, stack the lumber on the lower rungs.

Old wooden Cord Spools
Mount on the wall for a hose wrap, three placed in a circle gives the hose a resting groove. Apply polyurethane on it, and you can utilize it as a small table.

Great for larger scale protection of garden rows during a frost.

PVC/Metal  Pipes
Trellises can be constructed by using used PVC pipes giving vines a place to climb thus,  allowing garden soil to be utilized more productively.

Provide pots for growing in small spaces or sources of drip irrigation for traditional gardens. In early spring, garden plants need protection from frost. Materials used to protect the flower and vegetable plants are referred to as garden cloches. Pop bottles, milk jugs, ice cream buckets and other plastic containers make ideal to make a cloche.

The plastic needs to be clear to allow sunlight to shine though, while keeping frost off. Simply cut the tops off large 2-liter pop bottles or milk jugs. Turn the plastic containers over and gently tap the open end into the ground to protect individual garden plants.

The bigger plastic  containers and bottles can be used for container gardening. Simply cut the tops off the milk jugs and plastic 2-liter soda bottles then fill the them with dirt and use them to grow a garden.

Wood, Piping, or Metal Rods for the Garden
Wood, pipes and metal rods are ideal repurposed items for constructing larger protection from frost. Use the items to construct large frames. Cover these frames with clear sheets of repurposed plastic to protect entire rows of garden plants at one time.

Another way to repurpose wood, pipes or metal rods is to use them to create a trellis. Vines, such as squash, cucumbers, and melons, need something to climb to conserve valuable garden space.

Cardboard and Paper
Repurposing cardboard for the garden is helpful when weeds get out of hand. Cardboard makes an excellent weed block.

Break down cardboard boxes and use garden staples to tack the cardboard down in rows to create walking paths through the garden rows.

Lighter cardboard or paper bags can be used for blocking weeds and can be used around plants as long as the roots are able to receive a sufficient amount of water.

Shredded paper can be used this as mulch. Paper works well as mulch and because it is biodegradable, it eventually breaks down and becomes part of the soil.

Brown paper bags tend to be more visually appealing as mulch than white paper. When mulching with paper wet it down immediately to prevent it from blowing away.