Over time, the ground beneath grass tends to get compacted. This happens primarily because of foot or equipment traffic, such as lawn mowers, periodically putting pressure on it throughout the year. It may also be compacted if it has a heavy composition of clay which is a very dense material.

Compacted soil is bad for plant growth of any kind, including grasses. Plant roots need air to help them breathe, but compacted soil has much of the air squeezed out of it. In addition, many beneficial insects are turned away from soil that has become so dense that they find it difficult to bore through it. In frustration, they seek a more hospitable terrain, possibly in your neighbor's lawn. Over the years as the grass roots get less and less oxygen and nutrients delivered to them because of the impacted soil, your grass slowly begins to suffocate and starve.

So how dense is your soil? A simple way to determine is to take a screwdriver and try pushing it into the dirt. You should do this when the ground is dry. If you get a lot of resistance, then it is probably a sign be a sign that your soil is too densely packed. If the dirt gives way without too much effort, then it's probably ok.

A main feature contributing to packed soil is the lack of humus in the soil. Humus is the material that remains after microbes have finished digesting organic matter such as lawn clippings, decaying plants, food garbage, and so on. After the microbes have finished their work, what is left is a dark moist substance that is incredibly rich in nutrients and trace minerals called humus.

Humus is a bonafide "super food" and by occasionally spreading it on your lawn's surface or mixing it with your lawn's top soil, you can invigorate your entire lawn. Humus regenerates your soil by restoring lose nutrients to it. It is a very spongy material and, in particular if your ground has a high portion of clay, it will decrease the compactness of the soil. Also, contrary to many chemical plant foods, humus won't burn your lawn or other garden plants. It's very difficult to over feed your lawn too much humus.

You can make your own humus if you have the space. It does take time, but with the right tools, it's not difficult. Otherwise, there are many organic garden centers where you can find organic, fully decomposed humus

Soil rich in humus also has another great benefit. It helps to keep your grass roots moist by preventing water evaporating from the lawn. This not only means that you need to water less, but also your lawn will be less susceptible to periods of rain draught. This is especially true if you have a sandy type of soil which tends to have difficulty retaining water.

Many gardeners believe that the high concentration of nutrients in humus that it passes onto the grass, helps the grass to fight off disease and bacteria.

Just like the human body, the health of your lawn is very much dependent on what you feed it. If you feed it junk food, which is what many chemicals are, your grass will grown but it will not be strong. If you feed it humus which is the equivalent of giving it vitamins, minerals and proteins - your lawn will grow to be strong and healthy.

About the Author

Alex Murphy is writer and researcher for http://www.lawncaregurus.com . Visit his site for information about scott's lawn care fertilizers and other lawn care related articles.

Article Directory: http://www.articlerich.com

Many people consider that the traditional timber garden shed is the ideal choice, with a natural look and feel that will fit into most home and garden settings. Timber garden sheds are usually in the mid-priced range and there is an enormous variety of different designs, styles and sizes available to suit all budgets and tastes, along with a huge range of extras like windows and doors etc., to suit your exact needs.

Timber garden sheds are also a very environmentally-friendly choice, as many are manufactured in FSC - approved timber from sustainable forestry resources. And of course timber has a natural appeal that sits well in most home and garden settings. Timber garden sheds are manufactured in both hardwoods and softwoods and may include e.g. shiplap planking, tongue & grooved boards and chipboard panels.

All timber sheds are robust and versatile for years of lasting durability, and in order to better withstand rot, mildew and extreme climatic conditions, timber garden sheds are often supplied with a pressure treated or pre-dipped preservative finish and sometimes with an applied colour coating. Some manufacturers prefer to supply timber sheds in a natural finish and in all cases, you can treat, paint or stain the shed as you desire.

Easy to assemble and erect using only simple DIY tools, timber sheds are readily modified to suit your needs as it is easy to make changes, fit shelves, hooks and brackets or add insulation to improve frost proofing and give additional protection to stored vegetables and plants during the winter. Remember too that frost can creep up through the shed floor so if possible, lay down an old carpet for extra warmth.

With the ability to greatly complement any garden style or setting, a timber garden shed can provide an excellent feature or focal point. It can be covered with climbing plants or planted around and about as a feature or to mask an unsightly view or an untidy corner of the garden where bins, compost or materials are stored.

Many gardeners may be put off the idea of choosing a timber garden shed because they think that timber sheds require a lot of maintenance. However this is a misconception because modern treatments give good protection against rot, mildew and splitting to ensure long-lasting protection and durability. In order to protect your investment though, it's worth giving your timber shed a regular inspection and cleaning, remembering to also check the roof covering and to apply additional treatment and/or painting or staining to protect any weathered areas.

At the same time, remember to check all doors and windows and to give any metal parts, hinges or brackets an occasional drop of oil to keep them functioning properly.

About The Author:
By Les Renshaw (Author and user of Timber Sheds and Timber Garden Sheds)


Like any job you tackle, it's always easier if you have the right tools. Before heading out to your rose garden, make sure you arm yourself with these basic rose gardening tools.


"You can complain because a rose has thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have a rose." - Tom Wilson.

The rose garden is no place for thin, wimpy gloves. Unless you enjoy feeling the thorns pierce your skin, opt for leather work gloves with those big, fold-down cuffs.


A good pruner is one tool that you will use almost daily. There are two types of pruners on the market. One is called an "anvil" pruner, and the other is called a "bypass" pruner. An anvil pruner has blades that meet on top of each other. Bypass pruners have blades that pass each other like scissors. Always use bypass pruners so you don't crush your canes and stems.


When your rose garden starts to mature there will come a time when loppers will be indispensable for cutting back old, thick canes that are too much for pruning shears. If you are just starting your rose garden, save your money, since you won't need this for a few years.

Kneeling Pads

Some people prefer the big 8"x15" water-resistant pads with handles, while others prefer strap-on knee pads. The kneepads are more convenient because they move when you move, but the one-size-fits-all knee cups may not work for you. In that case, the pad with handles should suit you fine.

Short Digging Fork

This tool is indispensable for turning and loosening soil in small patches. Choose a good quality model with steel tines and a sturdy handle.

Watering Wand

Great for watering potted roses and for giving your other roses a good root soaking. Choose a model with a quick shutoff valve on the wand itself, and a quick release fitting for the end that attaches to the hose. Spend the money to get a wand with brass fittings instead of plastic. It will last years longer.

Long-Handled Shovel

Choose a lightweight model with a strong handle. Shovels with fiberglass throats are good choices. Spend a few extra dollars and get one with a padded handle, and it will save you lots of blisters as the years go by.


Avoid the temptation to buy the cute garden "carts." You are going to need a real wheelbarrow. As your gardening addiction--I mean hobby--takes off there will be no end to the things you will be hauling in and out of your garden. Some of those things will be very heavy and you'll be glad that you have a real wheelbarrow to help you.

Garden Rake

This is the rake with the sharp steel teeth that you use for leveling and smoothing beds. Choose one with a sturdy handle and steel tines.

Leaf Rake

You'll use this tool often for cleaning up clippings, leaves and other garden debris. You may want to buy both a regular size rake, and one of the smaller "child size" rakes for pulling debris from tight quarters.

You shouldn't have any trouble locating these basic rose gardening tools. Your local garden supply store will likely stock them, or if you don't mind purchasing gently-used items, check out yard sales for your gardening supplies.

By: Josiah Smart

Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

Organic gardening can be a great way to save some extra money in your budget. Imagine cutting your grocery bill in half or more! With a little planning and preparation, this is easy to achieve. In this article I will give you an idea of how much effort is involved and will explore ways to save money in your garden.

How Much Effort is Involved?

In the beginning, learning everything you need to know can be a challenge; however, when money is involved this becomes less of an issue. Most of the physical effort with organic gardening is in the bed preparation and the harvest. In all fairness this should only account for a couple of weeks out of the gardening season, although it may involve other activities (for example, maintaining a compost pile).

Other chores that require some time and effort, such as weeding and watering, can both be reduced through the proper use of mulch. Walking through your garden for a couple of minutes every day will help you identify your gardens needs quickly, before they become a problem. About one hour twice a week should be enough to maintain a substantial garden.

Finally, if your goal is to produce a large portion of your food requirements for the year, canning may take several days of time and effort. This can be minimized by planning ahead to grow items that can be dried or stored in a root cellar.

Where Does All the Money Go?

One reason to start organic gardening is for the money you can save. By paying close attention to the health of the soil, organic gardens are more productive. Plants fed through proper soil management require less additional fertilizers. They are also more disease and pest resistant, therefore they use less pesticides. More vegetables and larger vegetables mean less food you have to buy!

To save money on gardening in general, let's take a look at all the things in a garden that could cost you extra money. You could pay for seeds. You could pay for manure and compost. You could pay for additional fertilizers. You could pay for pesticides. Finally, you could water your garden with city water and run up your water bill.

How Do You Save Money Gardening?

With your first garden you may find it necessary to buy seeds. In order to save yourself this expense, you can save seeds from tomatoes, cucumbers and other garden produce as you use them. However, it is not exactly that simple...

Over the years greedy seed companies have genetically modified food crops to produce seeds that are sterile. Saving seeds from any of these varieties will just be a waste of your time. They key is to purchase heirloom strains, also known as heritage strains.

Heirloom varieties have not had insect DNA spliced into their genes, nor have they been modified to produce sterile seed. So far seed companies have not been able to modify potatoes to make them sterile... simply grow 10% more than you intend to eat and save them as seed potatoes for the following year.

Saving Money on Mulch, Manure, and Fertilizer

The secret to healthy, organic soil is compost. While some plants might enjoy the addition of manure, the truth is you can grow a very healthy and productive garden without manure or mulch if you have properly made compost. If you want to save money on all three (plus use less fertilizer), it is easy to learn how to make your own quality compost! Add plenty of it to your garden bed, and wherever you need mulch use sifted compost instead.

Organic gardening itself will save you money on fertilizer, but if your plants need a little extra during the growing season you can make your own compost tea. While there are many different recipes, the general idea is to fill a sock with compost and suspend it in a 5 gallon bucket of water for several hours. The resulting liquid can be watered down if needed and will contain humus, beneficial microorganisms, and nutrients that are immediately available to your plants.

Saving Money on Pesticides

Every garden needs some form of pest control. If you look through an organic gardening guide, again and again you will see the same item mentioned: Rotenone with pyrethrins. A plant called purslane is the commercial source for pyrethrins, and rotenone breaks down in 24 hours to Nitrogen and Phosphorus (making it one of the safest of all insecticides).

If this is your first year gardening than buy some rotenone with pyrethrins, but also plant some purslane. Next year you can make your own pyrethrins- simply use 1 tablespoon freshly ground dried purslane flowers, 2 liters of hot water, and a few drops of dish soap.

Also plant a few extra cayenne peppers and garlic plants. A couple peppers and a couple cloves of garlic ground up and soaked in a liter of warm water will make a spray that keeps bugs away.

Saving Money on Water

A lake or pond can be helpful for saving you money on your water bill. Otherwise, a very low cost modification to your downspout can divert rainwater to a barrel or cistern for use in your garden. Not only will it save you money on your water bill, but this water contains no chlorine and is much healthier for your plants.

One Final Thought

Let me just say that gardening should be thought of as a long term solution. If you buy a hoe and a rototiller and a pressure canner (and other items) and you only use them for one season, than you are probably spending more money than you are saving. It is only when you purchase these items (once) and use them season after season that you are truely saving yourself money on the food you produce. Keeping this in mind will help you save the most money with your garden.

By: Jason Willkomm

Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

Are you establishing a new garden? Are you trying to bring a long neglected or difficult garden back to life again? You can create a flourishing garden anywhere. All you need is loads of desire, a little imagination and an open mind. In this article I briefly summarize some techniques that I have successfully used for encouraging growth in difficult areas of the garden. By adding a little magick to some basic ecological gardening principles your can create a sensation.

There are a few essential requirements for a healthy garden. These are: soil with the correct texture, nutrient levels, and drainage; water; sunlight and the appropriate plant choice for your local environment. Garden bed preparation is of utmost importance and you would be well advised to ensure that you have provided your plants with the best physical environment possible for their successful growth. But getting the physical environment right is just the first step. To get the best out of your garden you should provide a happy environment, full of positive energy and a little magick.


When you first start planting out your garden it doesn’t look much like it will in two, three, five or ten years. Visualization is a crucial part of the garden design and planning process. It is also important for the growing process. To keep your garden growing in the direction would like it to grow, you should visualize regularly. This is just a matter of looking at the garden and imagining what it will look like when your plants are fully grown. In doing so you are mentally sending your plants messages and encouragement. Make a habit of visualizing your garden on a daily basis and imagine it as it will look in, say, five years of constant and healthy growth.

In the meantime … fake it

While you are in the early stages of garden creation, try making a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ garden. This simply means creating an interim garden. You can do this by placing pots filled with colorful plants around the area. This will give you some instant gratification for your efforts. It will also give your new plants some company. After all, plants are communal and are not meant to grow alone.

You can quickly and easily create new pot plants by taking cuttings from other plants in your garden or your existing pot plants. Put the cuttings in water until they sprout roots – some won’t grow roots this way, it will be trial and error but many will grow roots within a week. Alternatively, buy some plants, preferably colorful flowering plants. Of course, choose appropriate plants for the location of your garden - shade loving plants for areas with little sun, etc.

Place the pots around the area where you want the garden to be and in between the plants that you have recently planted. If the garden is located in a harsh landscape that is subject to extreme hot or cold or strong winds, you can place the pots so that young plants are protected from harsh winds or direct sunlight. If your environment is particularly harsh, you may consider adding small screens made from bamboo or other natural materials to protect young plants until they establish. In a dark or very shaded area, ensure that your pots will not block any sunlight that your seedlings may be receiving. Whatever the nature of your garden, use plenty of mulch to keep the moisture in the soil and the weed growth to a minimum.

Attract Native Animals

Life attracts life, so by attracting as many animals to your garden as possible you will increase the life energy of your garden which will help your plants to grow. Place rocks and logs in your garden to provide shelter and homes for small lizards and insects. If you do not have any tall trees, installing a pole that a bird can perch atop (but a cat can’t climb) is a great idea, as birds will contribute seed laden droppings that can bring additional plants to your garden as well as additional nutrients. Show your delight when you notice a new native occupant and let him know he is welcome.

Allow the ecology of your garden to evolve along with the growth and addition of your plants and other components. Resist interfering by killing particular animals that you don’t like such as spiders, if you are so inclined. Instead, become curious and learn about them. Talk to them. You will gain an entirely new appreciation for these animals and improve your karma at the same time.

Avoid Using Poisons

Garden shops are full of garden poisons. It’s big business. It would be easy to assume that weed killers, snail killers and the other exterminators are an essential component to gardening. However, the reality is that they are really bad for your plants and the animals that add value to your garden. There is almost always a natural or more gentle alternative to using poisons in the home garden. It is far more effective in the long term to pull weeds out by hand and you will save a lot of money.

Decorate and Communicate

Celebrate your garden area by decorating it with beautiful things, such as hanging pots, statues, bird baths, sculptures and low lighting, will add positive energy and atmosphere. If possible, include an outdoor table and chairs and spend some time there entertaining friends, laughing and having a good time, or just be there on your own relaxing and smiling upon your garden. Make sure you remove or disguise any ugly or unsightly objects. It is important to keep the area beautiful as you are more likely to spend time in, and give loving energy to, a garden that you like the look of and feel good about.

Take a leaf out of Grandma’s Book

Did your Grandmother speak to her plants? Mine did, and that practice was passed down to my mother and now I do it. It works! You don’t need to spend a lot of time in conversation with your flowers. Simply walk around and admire your plants for a few minutes most days. In the difficult spots, stop and talk to those plants that are struggling. Express pleasure when you see some growth. Smile at your plants and talk to them in a light manner as you are attending to their needs.

Crystals for Positive Energy

Use crystals and semi precious stones to add some beneficial energy to the area. Here are some ideas:


This crystal is known for its ability to produce abundance and increase yields in crops. It can be used to enhance the health of your pot plants or your garden plants.


Jade represents life and growth and has been associated with the health of plants and the environment. Place jade statues in the garden or use jade in a decoration that hangs above or nearby your plants.


Moonstone helps to enhance the growth and health of plants. Use it in decoration in your garden or wear it when attending to your plants.

Clear Quartz Crystal

Quartz crystal will amplify and enhance the qualities of any other stone and can be used to achieve any goal of pure intention. Use it alongside the other stones or alone in your garden to enhance plant growth. I hang crystals over pot plants to improve their performance.

These are examples of stones and crystals that have specific qualities that can assist plant recovery and growth. However, there are many crystals and stones that have healing and nurturing properties so it may pay to experiment. Crystals can be placed in pots, used as a display on a table, in a bird bath or water feature. They are particularly beautiful when they form part of a hanging decoration.

Add a Little Fairy Magick

Fairies have long been associated with gardens. Flower fairies were thought to live in the flowers of plants. They looked after the plant by ensuring it had everything it needed. You can add your own bit of fairy magick to your garden by placing a hanging fairy near the garden that you want to prosper from this energy.

If fairies are not your thing, hang or place sculptures of other powerful symbols around the area, such as the Sun for positive energy and the Moon for receptivity and supernatural powers. Both of these symbols together represent balance and harmony. There are many other symbols of good fortune such as Buddha that will enhance the energy and the feel of your garden. These symbols and bearers of good energy also look great.

Feng Shui Garden

Designing your garden for good Feng Shui

The Feng Shui garden is designed to allow Chi to flow. To create good Feng Shui, design your garden with plenty of curves. If you have a garden with very straight edges, add features that give the impression of curves. You can achieve this by the way you place your garden features and how you locate your plants. Choose rounded pots and curvy furniture to increase the positive Feng Shui in your garden.

Windchime Magick

Another way to increase Chi in your garden is by hanging a windchime or a windchime bell. Windchimes aid in the flow of Chi and add an additional element to your garden through sound. The right windchime can create a sensation of peace through its harmonic tunes. It is worthwhile selecting a well made bell or windchime that you enjoy listening to as this will make a valuable addition to the atmosphere of your home and give you joy every time the breeze blows.

Water Features

A water feature is also extremely beneficial in the creation of a positive Feng Shui garden. The water must be flowing, however, so that Chi can flow and so that it does not become stagnant. The addition of fish to your water feature will provide more positive energy due to the additional life. Be sure to find fish that do not eat the spawn of local frogs. Gold fish, which originated in China, have become an environmental nuisance in some countries and they will eat frogspawn. For frog friendly fish, check with your Government Fisheries Department.

Frog Magick

Frogs represent good luck in many cultures around the world. The first frogs hopped this earth alongside the Dinosaurs. They are wise beings, worthy of respect and they will bring good energy to your garden. Be sure to locate any pond a good distance from bedroom windows, however, as frogs can croak up a storm at night.


A wonderful way for a garden to enrich your life is through scent. You can create a special atmosphere by planting the shrubs, trees and flowers in your garden that provide certain scents that enhance particular moods. Add some instant inspiration by filling your pots with lavender, jasmine, geranium, lemongrass or whatever your nose desires.

Burn incenses outside or light a scented candle at night while sitting in the garden. Select the scent that will be most beneficial for your garden’s growth. Try gardenia or lavender for love and healing, ginger for success, patchouli or rosemary for love and growth, the invigorating benefits of sweet orange or frankincense and myrrh for healing and growth.

A closing thought ..

Your garden reflects the relationship it shares with you and the other inhabitants of your home. By increasing the positive loving energy in your garden you will create a place for growth and harmony, a place where life will thrive. In return you will receive much enjoyment. By combining good ecological concepts with a little magick you can turn a difficult garden into a sacred resort for the soul.

After you have finished you outdoor garden, it is time to admire your hard work and effort. Why would you want to do that from afar? To truly admire all of your work, you can only do it from a close up view of your work. Many consumers have no idea the wide array of garden benches that are currently available.

For instance, the park style garden bench is among the only options consumers think of when they think of a garden bench. Although, this style is beautiful and comfortable it is not the only option out there today. The park style garden bench serves its purpose, but, can you feel confident with buying the first bench you see. Be sure to explore all of the options prior to the purchase of a new garden bench.

Among the more expensive of garden benches is the stone garden bench. This particular style adds a wonderful look to your yard as well as giving you the ideal spot to place your bottom for admiration purposes. Although, if you plan on being in your garden for a longer span of time, this may not be the bench that will best meet your criteria for comfort. Stone garden benches will last for years in the elements of nature, so this is a great purchase for a garden area.

Another of the nicer options available in garden benches is the wrought iron with or without wooden slats for the seating area. The wrought iron can add a one of a kind style to your garden, and be a great addition, as not to take away from the gardens overall look, usually the wrought iron garden bench greatly compliments any garden. With or without armrests will be among the hardest part of your deciding when it comes to the purchase of the wrought iron garden bench. This will have to depend solely on your personal preference of garden bench.

Teak garden benches are another one of the top rated garden benches that are available today. They tend to be a little higher in price, due to the fact that they can usually outlive all other patio and garden furniture. Teak garden benches are designed to beat Mother Nature at her own game. Not only to the hold up against the elements of weather, but will remain beautiful and comfortable. For a more detailed design in teak garden benches, you can easily find one with engraved back, with and without armrest, and if you have a preference in the style of the back of your bench, you can get a varying style. A high back garden bench seems to be among the most popular among the teak garden benches. But, if that is not to your liking, rest assured as you can get a mid back or low back design as well.

These garden benches are just a few, hopefully giving you a taste of what is available today in garden benches. For the perfect garden bench, you must try not to get a bench that can take away from the beauty of your garden. A garden bench should only compliment the garden and be comfortable to sit in.

Many people do not realize that most bonsai plants are outdoor plants. To properly cultivate and maintain most bonsai trees they should not be kept inside but should be outside year round.

There are a group of what are called indoor bonsai trees. These are from warmer climates and are usually non-traditional species such as palm trees. Because they are from a warmer climate they do need to be kept indoors in most locales.
However if you are keeping traditional native bonsai trees in the US then chances are that tree needs to be outside. Most people do not realize how important it is for these trees to be wintered outside in a natural climate. For your tree to have a healthy and natural growing cycle it is critical for it to have this period of winter dormancy.

To give your plant this necessary period you will need to winter it someplace outside. The best way to accomplish this is to remove the tree from it's container and plant it in your yard.

In most native trees the roots are the part of the tree that is most sensitive to the cold. Most plants will start experiencing root damage at about 23 degrees Fahrenheit. To help avoid root damage you will need to take the plant out of its container and then bury it in the yard or garden.

If you bury the plant so that the bottom branches are just barely exposed this should help keep the roots below the frost line. You should bury it in a shaded area. During the winter days the sun can cause the plant to lose it's water and the frozen roots will not be able to replenish it.

If you do not have a yard to plant the tree in for the winter you can use a large container. A large container about the size of a vegetable crate should be sufficient.

You bury the plant in the container just like you would in the yard. And set it somewhere outside where will be exposed to natural elements. If you use a container it is very important that you monitor the soil moisture closely and do not allow it to dry out.

You can also winter your tree in an attic or garage as long as it is not heated and has windows. Be sure to place the plant where it is exposed to the light from the windows. You will still need to water the plant almost daily if you choose this method. If you plant is a conifer you will want to rotate it about once a week to so that all sides of the plant will be exposed to the sunlight.
You can prepare your tree for it's winter storage as soon as the last leaves have fallen off. At that time the plant is dormant and ready to be moved.

In the spring you can remove it from the yard and place it back in a container as soon as you see the first buds appear. If you allow your plant to winter indoors they will bud early. When they bud early the days will still be too short for proper growth and the leaves will have long gaps between them.

By: Joey Singer

Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

A plant's main enemies are pests (such as rabbits, insects, slugs and snails, and nematodes) and diseases (like fungi, bacteria, and virus). Most can be controlled using ecologically friendly methods. Rather than setting a goal of a pest-free garden, learn how to work with nature to keep problems at an acceptable level. Vigilance is the key to growing good plants; paying close attention to how the plants are growing will pay off. Finding a pest or disease problem in the early stages, when it is relatively easy to deal with, is preferable to suddenly discovering that the crop or plant in question is seriously infected with some problem.

Pest control This can be approached in stages, depending on the problem. Animals (rabbits, gophers, etc.) can be kept away from food crops by surrounding the area with a wire fence with the base buried in the soil. In the flower garden, plant species they do not like to eat. Protect the stems of trees with a wire guard for the winter (make it high enough to allow for snow) and spray shrub stems with a hot pepper spray after the last rain in fall. Deer and elk are difficult to repel without enclosing the entire garden with a high fence, but there are plants that they are less likely to eat (see list on p. 68).

Large insects, such as caterpillars and beetles, can be picked off by hand and dropped into a bucket of soapy water. When larger plants, like trees, are attacked, the soil directly under their foliage can be covered with drop sheets and the plant shaken to dislodge the pests. The drop sheets can then be carefully lifted and the pests destroyed. Caterpillars that congregate in webbing "nests," like tent caterpillars and fall webworms, should be controlled during the day, when the young larvae have left the nest, by spraying them with Bacillus thuringiensis. Another alternative is to wait until evening when the caterpillars have returned to the nest. Prune off the nests and immerse them in a bucket of soapy water to kill the larvae.

Plants can be protected from damage by soil-dwelling caterpillars, like cutworms, by enclosing them in a barrier made from half a frozen juice can or a circle of heavy-grade tinfoil pushed slightly into the soil. Wireworms (orange and curl into a half circle) and millipedes (dark brown and curl into a spiral) both live in the soil and feed on plant roots or burrow into root crops. They are seldom numerous, except in reclaimed pastureland, but destroy them when digging.

Quick-moving small pests, such as flea beetles, carrot flies, and leafhoppers, can be kept away from young plants -- the most vulnerable -- by covering them with a floating row cover supported on wire hoops made from cut-down clothes hangers. This also gives protection against late frost and against sunscald on newly planted plants.

Slow-moving small pests, like aphids and mites, can be washed off many plants with a strong stream of water, however, this should not be used on plants with large, soft foliage, or on the fragile growing tips of plants. Mites can also be kept to a minimum by spraying frequently with water, using a hand sprayer, and soaking the undersides of the foliage. Planting flowers that attract native predators also helps to control aphids and mites.

Insects can be lured to bright yellow or red traps coated with a nondrying sticky substance, which holds them. There are also traps baited with scent lures called pheromones. These are scents released by insects to attract others of their species. When used in a trap, they may imitate a female scent and entice many of the males to enter. The unbalanced population results in a large reduction in the number of eggs laid, and young hatching.

Many natural predators can be used to help solve a pest problem. They can be released into the garden and will target a specific pest or range of pests (see p. 546). Naturally, it takes time for the predator population to build up sufficiently to bring the problem under control, so there is always a lag between introducing the predator and solving the problem. They rarely completely kill off all the problem pests, but they will bring the population down to acceptable levels. Remember, spraying for pest control will often wipe out the beneficial insects as well.

Nematodes are microscopic wormlike creatures, some of which attack plants, but others are beneficial and attack plant pests. They are especially useful for controlling some lawn pests and are simply mixed with water and applied with a watering can. In warmer parts of the country, one application will give several years control, but in the North, the cold kills them and they need to be reapplied if the problem occurs again.

Bacteria are also weapons in the fight against plant pests. Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki, commonly known as BT or Dipel, was the original strain that attacks the caterpillars of certain species of moths and butterflies. There are now several other strains of this bacteria that can control Japanese beetle larvae, mosquito larvae, Colorado beetle larvae, and more. A large range of these predators and lures are available by mail or through your local nursery.

If none of the above methods control the problem to your satisfaction, you may have to resort to spraying with one of the organic controls listed on pp. 544–545.

Disease control. This is more difficult than pest control because the disease has usually got a hold on the plant before any symptoms appear. Many fungal diseases are spread by very small spores that float on the breeze and land on a plant leaf. They "germinate" and insert a small thread (called a hyphae) into the plant tissue. This feeds on the plant and grows, forming a network of hyphae between the cells inside the leaf. It is not until this point that the plant begins to show signs of stress -- different colored spots, wilting, or fungal tissue visible (as in mildew). Such leaves should be picked off as soon as noticed and put in the garbage -- not in the compost. If caught in time, this may be enough to stop the further spread of the disease.

Many plants, providing they are not under stress from poor growing conditions, can emit defensive secretions that can either kill fungal spores or limit the damage they can cause. It therefore makes sense to grow plants properly, giving them the soil conditions, acidity or alkalinity, and moisture they grow best in. In addition, allow good air circulation through plants, especially those, like phlox and bergamot, that are prone to mildew. Stagnant air in the middle of a large clump of stems is a mildew heaven.

Other fungi are great opportunists. Although they are not able to directly infect a plant, they can gain entry through stem and leaf wounds. Many cankers fall into this category. They can attack a plant only when it has been damaged by careless hoeing or gain entry through a wound caused by mower damage.

Fungi are important agents in plant decay, and most work in the gardener's favor. They help break down compost and are responsible for rotting wood in forests and returning the nutrients to the soil. Without them, the woods would be choked with dead trees. Some, such as coral spot, will also attack living material that is under stress from another cause. The appearance of small, bright coral-pink fungi on a branch indicates a problem.
Most of the fungicides listed in the chart on pp. 544–545 are preventative, rather than curative. They should be applied before the disease strikes to form a protective layer on the foliage that kills the fungal spores on contact.

Bacteria are minute organisms that can be rod-shaped, spherical, or spiral, and there are several million in a typical teaspoon of soil. They are important in breaking down dead plant material, but a few attack living plants, generally causing plant tissue to disintegrate. Soft rot of iris is a typical bacterial disease. They are difficult to control and long-lived in the soil, but generally specific to one species or group of plants. Avoid replanting the same species in soil where a bacterial disease has been diagnosed. Some bacteria attack certain insects and are used as insecticides.

Virus are submicroscopic primitive life-forms that live inside cells of plants and animals. They tend to be very specific, limiting their attack to a single genus or plant family. Some virus are used as insecticides but others attack plants. There is no cure and infected plants should be dug up and disposed of in the garbage. Infected plants usually have foliage with strange mottling or streaks, and are often puckering as well. The recently discovered virus attacking hostas is typical in this way. Plant infections can be spread by hand, shears, and other gardening tools. Newly infected plants may take several years to show symptoms, during which time the virus can be spread to other plants. Virus are also spread by sapsucking insects, such as leafhoppers, so controlling these insects is very important. Many modern varieties of vegetables, especially tomatoes, have built-in resistance to some of the virus and other diseases that attack them. This information is usually indicated by a series of code letters in seed catalogs.

Compost Tea

Homemade compost or special compost preparations available from garden suppliers are the basis of this tea. Simply put a shovelful of finished compost in a burlap sack and immerse it in a bucket of water for about a week. Strain the resulting tea through cheesecloth or some other material to remove all solids. Use the tea full-strength to water any and all plants in your garden. Compost tea not only provides a wide range of nutrients, but it also boosts plants' natural defenses against disease. Spraying plants with aerated compost tea can convey even greater benefits. To make aerated compost tea, follow the instructions that come with the compost preparations procured from a garden supplier.

Herbal Sprays

While herbal sprays do not appear to actually kill insects, they do seem to act as an effective repellent, and spraying plants with a tea made of garden herbs may help to keep them pest-free. Sage, thyme, rosemary, and white clover seem to help ward off attacks from leaf-eating caterpillars. To make, either soak 1 cup of fresh leaves overnight in 2 cups of water or pour 2 cups of boiling water over 2 cups of fresh leaves. To use, strain, dilute with an equal amount of water, and add a few drops of liquid soap (not detergent) to act as a spreader.

Stinging Nettle Spray

Stinging nettles grow as weeds in the eastern parts of the country but they can be used to make a spray that helps plants resist disease attacks.

When collecting nettles to make the spray, wear long pants, cover the arms, and wear good work gloves. Place about 1 pound of nettle leaves and young stalks in a bag and soak it in 1 gallon of chlorine-free water (tap water that has stood uncovered for 48 hours). Cover the bucket and leave it in a warm place for a week. The mixture will have a strong smell when uncovered and may need straining through a cheesecloth. Dilute with five times its volume of chlorine-free water and spray plants that are known to be susceptible to fungus diseases. Spray every 2 weeks for continued coverage. It also helps deter aphids and acts as a foliar feed. Store any unused spray concentrate in a glass jar, it will keep for a month.

Starch Spray

This forms a sticky coating on the leaf surface, which traps the pests and holds them until they die. It works best on small pests like aphids and thrips, rather than on large beetles and caterpillars. Mix 2-4 tablespoons of potato flour (available in health food stores) in one quart of water and add a few drops of liquid soap as a sticker. Shake well and spray onto the plants, covering the entire leaves. It will wash off in rain or can be hosed off after a few days.

Garlic Oil Spray

A mix of garlic, mineral oil, and soap gives very good results against many sucking and chewing insects. These include aphids, cabbageworms, leafhoppers, larval mosquitoes, squash bugs, and whiteflies.

Some plants are sensitive, so try it on a single shoot first. If there is no damage after 48 hours, spray the entire plant. Soak 3 ounces of finely chopped garlic in 2 teaspoons of mineral oil for 24 hours. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of insecticidal soap in 2 cups of water and add it to the garlic and oil. Stir well and strain. To use, add 1-2 tablespoons to 2 cups of water and spray on the pests. Store the remainder in a glass container for future use.

Hot Pepper Dust

Grow your own hot peppers to provide the source for a repellent dust that will help protect plants from cabbage maggots, carrot root flies, ants, and other pests. Dry the harvested pepper first, and then grind them with a mortar and pestle (always wear protective eye gear and gloves when working with hot peppers because the dust can be very irritating to your eyes). Sprinkle the dust along plant rows just after seeding or around the base of young plants. Apply more dust after rainfall or watering.

The above is an excerpt from the book The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Planning - Selection - Propagation - Organic Solutions by Edited by Fern Marshall Bradley and Trevor Cole. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2009 Fern Marshall Bradley and Trevor Cole, editors of The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Planning - Selection - Propagation - Organic Solutions
Author Bio
Fern Marshall Bradley, co-editor with Trevor Cole of The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening, is a writer and editor whose favorite topics are gardening and sustainable living. A co-author of Reader's Digest's Vegetable Gardening, she also conceived and edited The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Insect and Disease Control, The Expert's Book of Garden Hints, among others. Bradley is a former gardening books editor for Rodale.

Trevor Cole, co-editor with Fern Marshall Bradley of The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening, was curator of the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa, Canada, for over 20 years. He was educated in horticultural science at the Royal Botanical Gardens in the U.K. Cole's previous offerings include numerous magazine articles and the books Care-Free Plants and The New Ottawa Gardener.

By: Fern Marshall Bradley and Trevor Cole

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If you are looking to save a few extra bucks at the grocery store and have some fun at the same time, then I can think of no better activity than planting a vegetable garden. It might seem on the surface like a lot of work, but with some of the techniques and tips I am about to give you, you will have no problems, or at least keep them to a minimum.

Gardening is a great activity, especially if you have kids and get them involved. Some of the special moments I had with my own father came when he was teaching me how to plant and nurture his own vegetable garden. Now with children of my own I plan on doing the same.

There is also a lot bending and moving with gardening so you will get some exercise, just don’t plan on it being enough to compete in the Olympics though.

My first tip is to start your garden indoors. If you have a room with some windows where the sub hits first thing in the morning than that is the perfect area. You can start your plants in a variety of ways but I found what works best is buying one of those miniature green houses from Home Depot or Lowes and starting them that way. These miniature greenhouses range in price depending on size, from $1.99 to $7.00. They are really more like plastic trays with a clear plastic top. They come with rock hard pellets made from a variety of soils that when you add water they expand to create a great starting environment for your seeds.

It’s best, as I found the hard way, to not start your plants too early indoors. You want to time it just right so that when the plants are ready indoors to be moved, you can take them directly to your garden.

Here in New Jersey, I start in indoors on April 1st, so that by May 1st, I am ready to go. I tried starting earlier one year, and halfway through the month of April it snowed and wiped me out. Now I wait out April and have never had any problems since.

Once I have moved my indoor plants to the outdoors I then put down my weed barrier made from wet newspaper, because lets face it, I hate weeding, and if you don’t do this step you will be doing plenty of it. Simply take two pages of your newspaper and lay them down, making sure you overlap the edges until your garden is covered. Just make sure you don’t cover up your plants.

I am also very fortunate that in my area our township has a recycle center where you can pick up leaf mulch absolutely free. I grab a few buckets and lay it over top of my newspaper weed barrier and I am done, and the garden looks great. If you do not have access to leaf mulch as I do, you can always buy some from a local nursery, or you could just mow your lawn and throw the grass clippings on top.

Putting the mulch on afterwards will allow for better water drainage, it will keep the soil underneath a lot cooler and as the mulch and newspaper biodegrades it will add nutrients to your soil.

Once the garden season comes to an end, and the plants have stopped producing vegetables and fruit, do not throw them away. Start your own compost pile. Although it goes beyond the scope of this article, in essence a compost pile is where you add leaves, grass and other biodegradable material, turn it over every so often and when it’s done, you have great compost that you can use the following year for your top layer above your newspaper weed barrier.

One final note that I want to get across that I can’t stress enough and that is to compost your food waste. What this means is, instead of throwing away leftovers or uneaten food, dig a hole about a foot to two feet deep and bury it. Worms and other earthly creatures will find it and eat and their castings create compost that far outweighs the benefits of any chemical fertilizer. Do not, however, add food waste to your compost pile explained in the previous paragraph. It will create a fowl smell and I don’t think your neighbors will appreciate that.

About the Author

Would you like to make some extra money writing about your gardening experience? Then you are in luck. You can join Bukisa today and start earning residual income on every article that you write about gardening.

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If you were thinking that home decor only included your homes interior then you are mistaken as design is as important outside as it is inside. Decoration is the key to developing your garden in the same way you would decorate your kitchen or lounge, you can create a certain colour scheme or look to your garden to help your outside express and reflect who you are in the same way you home interior decor does. In fact the very first impressions someone gets of your home are from the outside and this need to be a part of the overall look and feel of your home, hopefully creating a sense of welcoming warmness and exquisite taste. If you are attempting to create a beautiful garden then make sure that you spend time digging, planting and watering within your garden because it will help you feel at one with your garden and help you become part of the creative process too. After all why have a garden if you dont ever intend on getting your hands a little green?

Designing a garden requires you to have an idea of what type of garden you prefer and your decisions will help shape and refine the whole look to the garden. There are so many beautifully designed features that will help to sculpt and stylize you outdoor living space such as statues, water features, walkways and even fountains. You can have a specific area to host outdoor events with some chairs and tables this is lovely with flowered gardens in summer especially the scented ones like jasmines. This area can be developed to entertain guests in a truly relaxing and beautiful setting with maybe a stone or water feature nearby to admire and help create the ambiance.

Having climbing plants covering trellises can also help to sculpt certain more hidden and secluded areas of your garden and are available in so many different styles and in stylish materials that finding one to create a truly unique feature would be no problem. You have the choice from plastic, metal or wood with different colours shapes and sizes and patterns that can be very plain of highly decorative to suit all tastes.

Benches can also be nice to sit and admire your lovely garden which again can be made from a variety of materials and in various patterns and styles you can even get a bespoke message of inspirational words inscribed upon your bench to remind you just how peaceful a garden can make you feel. Any experience of peace in a garden would not be complete without a beautiful water feature as the sound of running water can simply take us away from all the stresses we might be facing and allow real inner tranquility. These water features again are available in so many wonderful and unique designs and from a variety of materials. Even in the smallest garden a stand-alone water feature can give you a lovely feature and make any space look truly contemporary.

What is truly great about garden design is the texture you have to work with and the ability to trill all of your senses, with the sight of your plants and trees blooming, the sound of a water fountain, the smell of flowers and hearing all the birds and wildlife it will attract, and if your having a herb garden you can throw some fresh herbs into your cooking too. You can simply surround yourself with nature and the only thing to restrict you is your own creativity.

About the Author

Roxy is a avid home enthusiast who likes to experience the outdoors and the relaxing mood of her alan titchmarsh water features. Roxy works for UK water features who specialise in finding the best indoor water features as well as self contained water features in the UK.

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Most Japanese Maple seeds ripen in the fall. Watch the tree and wait for the seeds to turn brown. The seeds are ready to be harvested when they are brown and can be easily removed from the tree.

The seeds are attached to a wing, it's best to break the wing off before storing or planting the seeds. Japanese Maple seeds have a very hard outer coating as do many ornamental plants. Under natural conditions the seeds would have to be on the ground for almost two years before they would germinate. All that happens the first winter is the moisture softens the hard outer shell, and the second winter germination is beginning to take place.

In order for all of this to happen in the proper sequence so the seedlings actually sprout at a time of the year when freezing temperatures or hot summer sun doesn't kill them, takes a tremendous amount of luck.

You can improve the odds by controlling some of these conditions, and shorten the cycle. Once you have picked the seeds and removed the wing just place them in a paper bag and store them in a cool dry place until you are ready for them. You don't want to plant your seeds out in the spring until the danger of frost has past. Here in the north May 15th is a safe bet.

If May 15th is your target date you should count backwards on the calendar 100 days. That will take you to about February 5th if my math is correct. On or about the 100th day prior to your target planting date, take the seeds and place them in a Styrofoam cup or other container that will withstand some hot water. Draw warm to hot water from your kitchen faucet and pour it over the seeds. Most of the seeds will float, just leave them in the water overnight as the water cools down. 24 hours later most of the seeds will have settled to the bottom of the cup

Drain off the water. Place the seeds in a plastic bag with a mixture of sand and peat or other suitable growing mix. Even light potting soil will work. The peat or soil should be moist, but not soaking wet. Poke some holes in the bag so there is some air circulation, and place the bag in your refrigerator for a period of 100 days.

After 100 days you can plant the seeds outside. If you have timed it correctly, you should be at or close to your target planting date.

To plant the seeds just sow them on top of a bed of well drained topsoil or sterilized potting soil, and cover with approximately 3/8" of soil. Water them thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out completely before watering thoroughly again. If you water them frequently, not only do you stand a chance of the seeds rotting from being too wet, but you will also keep them cool, which will slow down the germination process.

Once they start to germinate provide about 50% shade to keep the sun from burning them. Snow fence suspended about 30" above the bed will provide about 50% shade. Japanese Maples will tolerate some shade so it isn't too important to transplant them too quickly. Depending on how close together they are, you might be able to leave them in the same bed for one or two growing seasons. Don't transplant until they are completely dormant.

By: Joey Singer

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In any recipe calling for herbs, use fresh herbs. Preparing the herbs for your dish is easy. The more tender herbs like mint, parsley, basil and cilantro can be gathered in a bowl and snipped with scissors. This is the fastest and safest way to chop the herbs. If your recipe calls for the more hardy herbs like oregano, rosemary, or thyme you should use the stripping method. Hold a branch of the herb upright in your fingers and run the fingers of your other hand down the stalk stripping the tiny leaves free. The flavor will be more intense if you have gathered the herbs from your herb gardens or container gardens because they will be absolutely the freshest herbs available.

The best way to have fresh herbs is to plant and grow them yourself. No longer is there a designated "herb garden". They can be found in your flower beds, along walkways or in pots on your porch. Many ambitious gardeners are finding new ways to incorporate herbs into their garden beds and their container gardens.

Many gardeners are unaware of the beauty of flowering herbs and never consider planting them within their flower beds. Some herbs that have beautiful flowers are purple coneflower, catmint, bee balm, yarrow, pinks, lavender, pot marigold, borage, feverfew, and nasturtium which is particularly lovely in fresh salads.. Many other herbs, such as parsley are excellent next to flowers of all sorts because of their spectacular foliage. When planting red or blue flowers, place purple basil around them for an artful arrangement.

Another area to consider is to use herbs as ground cover. The herbs that are suitable to this are the low growing oregano, chamomile, woolly and other creeping thyme, mint, and rosemary. Not only will it look pretty but it will be absolutely fragrant. Just be careful of the mint family, they tend to take over everything.

One of the best ways I have grown herbs is in containers. In fact, I like container gardening so much I wrote my eBook "Container Gardening Secrets" (available at ContainerGardeningSecrets.com), so everyone could enjoy this type of gardening. The beauty of a container garden is that it is portable and can be changed at a moment's whim. When there is no more room in your garden, start a container garden which you can place on your door step or patio. Use them to fill in bare spots that come up during the gardening season or put them on a sunny window sill in your home for easy harvesting. Best of all you can bring your herb containers inside over the winter months and continue to harvest for months to add to your tasty meals or to be used for medicinal purposes.

Another way to employ pots in your garden is to plant invasive herbs such as mint into a pot and then plant pot and all into the ground. This is an easy trick to keep those "creepers" from taking over your garden beds.

Plant a container garden near your door with the cherry pie scented blue flower heliotrope and other fragrant herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil. Every time you walk by you will be greeted with there delicious scent.

Some herbs that have grown on rocky hillsides over the centuries such as thyme, oregano and lavender are perfect for cracks in flag stone paths or walls and rock gardens. They thrive in hot dry areas with good drainage. Some believe that those herbs grown in these conditions produce much better flavor.

Now is the time to plant your herbs, whether it is in a garden bed, a cracked wall or a container garden. Use your imagination. Consider color height and texture when planting your gardens. Not only will it be visually pleasing but your cooking will improve too!

Happy Gardening!

By: Joey Singer

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Gardens today have a lot to live up to, they are supposed to be places of relaxation and are there to help us get in tune with nature and find inner peace but if your garden is on the smaller side or just in need of a total transformation then how can you help make the change from a pain in the neck to Zen garden? The addition of water, moving splashing, life-giving water can help anyones garden feel more alive and tranquil. Water adds a sense of calm and serenity to a garden but so much more it will increase the peace within you too. Most people today do not want to add a pond to their garden, you have to clean them out and its a lot of work to fit, especially with fountains but a simple water feature can be just what every garden needs. Theyre child friendly as well as nature friendly and you are not required to keep up so are suitable to any garden size shape or style.

Water features do not have to be in any particular style or shape or even made from any particular material so the choice that is out there is very wide indeed. Many designers and garden specialists have designed their own ranges of garden water feature like Alan Titchmarsh who has designed a stylish and affordable range.

Finding the right water feature for you is a very personal thing and it does all depend on the feel of your garden and the environment you are hoping to create.

About the Author

Roxy is a avid home enthusiast who loves to enjoy the outdoors and the relaxing mood of her solar water features. Roxy works for UK water features who specialise in finding the best Alan Titchmarsh Water Features as well as self contained water features in the UK.

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that's so, then flowers are worth a thousand pictures. Over the years, Mom gave us so much. She gave us hugs and love. She gave us encouragement and praise. She gave us spending money, wisdom and advice. She even gave us a few well needed smackdowns, even though they probably made her cry. After all those years of love, doesn't she deserve Mother's Day flowers? While some of us might have moms who prefer power tools, most mothers smile big and wide at the thought of flowers for Mother's Day.

While the gift of flowers is a loving and appreciated gesture, it is also an expense that is not always affordable. The retail cost of this customary floral gift is particularly prohibitive during holidays like Mother's Day. Fortunately, you can find different and more affordable options instead of fresh floral bouquets, saving you time and money to spend on something different to show your affection for your Mom.

Silk flowers are a good option to think about for a Mother's Day gift. Fresh flowers purchased out of season can cost a lot and must be transported from long distances. This holds true for seasonal flowers such as carnations, lilies, and roses. But silk may be bought any day or any season. This lets you buy any flowers you wish for your mother but without the worries of what will bloom in the month of May. Silk is a good option for a number of reasons. Silk flowers are cheaper than fresh flowers and come in any colors you may want. They also cost a great deal less than fresh flowers. This is why they have gotten so popular.

There is an extensive selection of silk flowers available - any flower that you can imagine is likely available to order as a single flower, or part of a larger bouquet. There are many beautiful and creative arrangements available for holidays such as Mother's Day. When you search for online suppliers who carry silk flowers, you will be pleasantly surprised at how many quality silk flowers are out there!

Caring for silk flowers does not have to be complicated. Make sure to place them out of reach of curious toddlers and pets which are likely to munch on them. Do not expose them to direct sunlight, and use a regular feather duster or a pump spray or vacuum cleaner to keep dust at bay. These simple steps will ensure that your flowers will last for many year.

Americans celebrate Mother's Day the second Sunday of May. This year, consider a gift of silk rather than regular flowers. They come in more colors than traditional flowers. They last far longer, and they cost only a fraction of fresh seasonals. Be sure to comparison shop several sites, checking features such as price, variety, color and quality. That way you'll be sure to find the best flowers for the best price to give to your first and best gal: your Mom.

About the Author

Once you've selected your Mother's Day silk flower arrangements be sure to check my handy tips on How to Clean Silk Flowers - If silk flowers, aren't for you, there's always flower delivery available. ;-)

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It's August, the weather has cooled a bit here and the summer monsoons where I live in New Mexico have begun. The kids are starting back to school and I feel the onset of fall. I'm getting that garden planning itch again! It happens 2-3 times a year... This time, it's time to start ordering bulbs and perennials for fall planting. I'm always planning how my garden will look better next season and I suppose most of you do the same. Fall is the perfect time to plant for established growth next spring!

Take a good look at your garden now and think about areas you need to fill in. Do you need late season color, early spring blooms? Are there bare spots or places where plants like poppies or tulips go dormant and you need a filler to keep your garden alive with color? I find the best time for next years planning is in the fall when bloom time and plant combinations are fresh in my mind.

You may be disappointed with a plant combination you chose last season. Fall is the perfect time to rearrange. Get rid of overgrown plants and revive areas with new color or foliage combinations. Think about areas in your bulb or perennial garden you want to develop. What size, shape and bloom color do you need? Plant them this fall and watch your pans come to fruition come spring.

Shrubs and trees do take years to mature and fill their place. You can get a jump start by planting them this fall. When spring arrives they'll be much more hardy and will require less babying.

Fall is the perfect time to mail order bulbs, perrenials, shrubs, hedges and trees. We're winding down the season and if you're anything like me you're just not ready to quit quite yet. Sure there's clean up to be done, but I find more planting helps to finish those mundane cxhores. As I clean out I plant new!

Ordering online or by mail

Ordering plants online can be a bit scary. How are the plants shipped? Will they be good quality? Will they arrive at the right time and will I be prepared to plant them then?

Fear not! I've ordered in fall for years and have had tremendous results!

Plant Quality and Guarantees

Nurseries do differ in what and how they ship so make sure you do some research, but almost all reputable mail order nurseries do guarantee their plants to grow or your money back. I've never had trouble collecting on that promise and I have used it a time or two for certain plants. I also admit, a bit grudgingly as a then new gardener, that I should never have ordered those specific plants for my climate. Nevertheless the nursery did stand behind it's guarantee.

How Plants Are Shipped

Some plants will be shipped bare root, others as potted plants. This depends on the plant variety and I've actually found preference to bare root plants. They do look dead when they arrive (they are actually dormant), but I assure you that unless they have visible signs of disease like rot they'll thrive come spring.

*Note - If you do get any plants that look like the crown has rotted either ship them back immediately or just phone the nursery and they'll ship out new ones.

When to Plant

While you never know exactly when your plants will arrive, they are shipped to you at the proper planting time for your gardening zone. If plants arrive and it's not convenient to plant immediately just make sure you follow the directions included in your shipment for keeping your plants viable until you can plant them. If you've planned ahead you will know where they go and it'll take you little time to get them in the ground. A Saturday afternoon will usually give you ample time to get this done.

Keep in mind these companies have been in business for years and years and have shipped bare root and potted plants for eons. They do know what they're doing and most of them do it very well. They'd be out of business if they couldn't fulfill your planting requirements.

Gardening Budgets and Selection

You can't beat the cost and selection of ordering by mail! Most mail order companies offer plant varieties you'll never find anywhere else. The selections seem endless and I've been amazed what I can grow in New Mexico. Take advantage of fall specials and free shipping and you get a double bang for you buck. For about half of what I spend on a trip to the garden center on a single spring garden binge, I can have more variety and many more plants shipped to me at home.

Get on the Mailing Lists

Make sure you're on the mailing list for the following nurseries at least! You'll get a catologue several times a year. Take it into the garden with you,look around and plan accordingly. Then hop online and place an order or order by mail, but use the online resources for their help with plant combinations and companion planting. They offer great suggestions you may not have thought of before. Remember - pictures will help any gardener no matter how experienced.

There is a common myth that is going around these days that is deceiving allot of people. That is “in order to have a home based business, you MUST be online.” With the current economy the way it is, more and more frustrated, underpaid, overworked people are desiring to have a business of there own. A way that they can work from home and earn a decent living from there instead of having to punch a clock 8-12 hours a day for a boss they can’t stand.

Thanks to the T.V. GURUS, it seems that everything they talk about is having an internet business. It seems like the ONLY way to make money from home is that you MUST become an “Internet Marketer.” Frankly, I can’t stand that term. With all the “so called internet experts” out there that have ripped off good hard working people and separated them from their last dime on earth, (to me anyway) becoming an internet marketer has a very demeaning, derogatory suggestive connotation to it that I don’t understand why anyone would want to be even closely associated with that title.

My business is internet based and I do market on the internet but I do not call myself an internet marketer. When people ask me how I earn a living, I usually tell them I have a website and I sell
other people’s stuff and I make a commission off of every sale. In the “internet marketing” world, that is simply called affiliate marketing. I also sell physical products full time on Ebay.

But, there are many types of businesses out there that don’t require you to have a website, a blog, a lead capture page, an auto-responder or anything like that. You can STILL have a successful business of your own and escape the rat race of the 9-5 grind.

Now let’s get something clear before I go any further. I am NOT talking about investing tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars in a franchise. They are in a league of their own and are not the only way you can have a successful ‘home based business.” I am also not talking about leasing a “brick and mortar” storefront, purchasing tons of inventory from China, hiring people and all that jazz that goes along with that.

What I am talking about is the type of businesses that allow you to work for yourself (entirely by yourself) or having to invest huge sums of money in equipment purchases (or leases). The type of businesses that allows you to work when you want, how long you want and how hard you want and STILL make decent money. Businesses that have High Demand and will never become saturated because it is a service that people will always need.

One such business is owning your own Lawn Care Service. As long as there grass to cut and bushes to trim, leaves to rake or even snow to plow, you can have a very profitable lawn care business or service that provides a vital need to the community at large for a wide variety of people that either are too elderly to take care of their own property or too busy to.

This is a type of service business that you can start out very inexpensively. You can start out as little as having a used (but in good working condition) power mower, edge trimmer, a rake and a few lawn bags (or barrels). Your advertising could be as simple as “word of mouth” thought satisfied customer referrals and handing out business cards. As your business grows, you can expand (but only if you want to.) Your Business can be as small or as large as YOU want it to be. You are in complete control.

Another popular and highly lucrative business is in the field of Medical Transportation. Allot of people who are elderly, NEED this kind of help or assistance to be able to get back and forth to the doctor’s office for appointments or for hospital needs. You can build a Business that:

• Has Guaranteed Revenue (Paid by the Government)
• Has a Huge and Growing Clientele
• Is Recession Proof (even in a bad economy)
• Has Huge Tax Breaks and Incentives
• Is Easy to Manage and Operate

These are just two examples of home based businesses that I highly recommend if you are looking for ways you can be in business for yourself that is very “doable” (even in today’s economy.) One that doesn’t require you to be chained to a computer in a “home office. A Business that allows you to interact with people, work outside, “work with your hands” and provide a vital and much needed and in High Demand Service. If you are interested in these two types of businesses, please visit my website below for more information.

About the Author

Ken McDougal Jr. is a Professional Nature Photographer, Full time Ebay Seller and Entrepreneur. To make more money and get more money making tips please visit www.KenMcDougaljr.webs.com

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