Great Garden Hacks

Spring is on the way, and gardeners can hardly wait to get their hands dirty. As a gardener, you may have already prepared spaces in your garden for new plants or flower beds. Trees have already been shaped and pruned to allow sunshine through the canopy, and last season’s mulch has done its job of smothering weeds and preserving moisture in the soil. Perennials are starting to peep out of the soil, and bulbs are already blooming. During the planning sessions for your spring garden, keep in mind these great garden hacks. You’ll save time, save money, and the payoff is healthier, happier plants.

Coffee as Fertilizer

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When I started teaching, I was awed by the potted plants in veteran teachers’ classrooms. When I finally got the courage to ask about their green thumbs, every one of them said the secret to their healthy plants was coffee. It acts as fertilizer, stimulating plants just as it stimulates the freshly awakened brain over the morning paper.

When your coffee gets cold, pour the remains onto your plants. Save the grounds, too. In fact, some coffee shops such as Starbuck actually package their used grounds and sell them. Work these grounds into the soil in your garden and they will give your seedlings a jump-start. Regular watering with left over coffee, and mulching with grounds, will make your plants stronger and more vigorous.

Buy Bugs

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Did you know you can buy bugs? Ladybugs eat all kinds of pesky – um – pests. Aphids, especially, do terrible damage to plants every year. Everything from ornamental shrubs to vegetables can be decimated in just a couple of days by aphids. But, ladybugs LOVE aphids. They consider these white, mealy little pests to be the best meal in the whole world. You can buy a container of ladybugs for less than you would spend on chemicals at the nursery, and they will be better for the environment.

Get Worms

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Earthworms are some of the best gardeners on the planet it’s almost like having your own personal lawn services. They burrow through soil, naturally aerating it, and their castings make a terrific fertilizer. In fact, you can buy worm castings from worm farms to fertilize your garden. You can buy earthworms, too, but usually, if you compost your garden, the worms will come on their own.

Some gardeners will even tell you to dig holes in the garden soil, about 10 centimeters apart and 20 centimeters deep, and bury your kitchen scraps. People who don’t want to have a compost bin can still reuse their scraps and enrich the soil enough to bring in earthworms. It helps, too, to keep the soil moist. Deep water at first, and then just moisten the top of the soil, and the worms will have enough moisture to live and multiply.

Planting and maintaining a healthy garden is a labor of love. Watching something that you have planted grow into a beautiful plant is rewarding and satisfying. With a few garden hacks, you can save money and time, and have a healthier garden, too.

Choosing The Ideal Lounge Furniture

Choosing the ideal lounge furniture is a highly personal decision, dependent on your personal tastes, your budget, and your space. Here are some pointers on how to choose the ideal lounge furniture for your home.

What Is Lounge Furniture

Lounge furniture is usually considered to be outdoor furniture. If it is not outdoors, it may be in a sunroom, atrium, or conservatory. It is intended to be casual and comfortable, and usually should be easy to care for. Lounge furniture should be durable enough to withstand weather, and comfortable enough for you to prop your feet up.

Construction

Many times, lounge furniture is made of natural materials, such as wicker or rattan. Some people prefer Adirondack-type chairs made of 1 X 4 boards with cushions. Other popular materials are cedar, redwood, and teak, each of which are very durable and can withstand weather and moisture.

One of the most popular metals for lounge furniture is wrought iron. This is partly because it is a rougher finish, and does not have any pretense for being a fine piece of furniture. If it gets rusty, it actually looks better, rather than looking worn out. Colorful cushions finish out the wrought iron chair or settee, creating a welcoming destination in the garden or patio.

Other metals, of course, are also used in lounge furniture. Aluminum is popular because it is so lightweight. This makes it easier to move the furniture from one spot to another. For those who prefer a more permanent location, heavier steel lounge furniture that has been powder coated can dress up outside areas.

Seats


These days, most lounge furniture is made with replaceable seat cushions. These are available in just about every color combination and them you could possibly want, allowing yuou to change the look of your outdoor areas at will.

Other lounge furniture will have seats made out of some kind of mesh. In the old days, you would find nylon strips woven together and riveted to an aluminum frame. You can still find these chairs and chaise loungers, but most people like more of a furniture look to their lounge furniture. The biggest problem with this older design was that the aluminum would come into contact with your skin, and could be very hot. In addition, the nylon strips are often itchy, and the rivets can loosen and scratch you.

Purposes

When you choose the ideal lounge furniture, decide what it will be used for. Do you want to take it camping with you? In that case, you may want the old nylon/aluminum chairs.

But, if you want outdoor entertainment, you will look for more substantial lounge furniture. This will be made of wood or a heavier metal so that it will not blow over easily. Select construction that you will be willing to care for. For example, wicker and rattan must be hosed off once or twice a year, and a sealant applied to preserve the fibers.

Whether you want colorful lounge furniture, or nice, calm colors, there is something out there for you.

 

 

Protecting Your Plastic Planters In The Cold

Protecting Your Plastic Planters In The Cold

Plastic garden planters are a popular solution to many landscaping and gardening needs. They are lightweight, portable, inexpensive, and can be found in any color or style you may want. The plastic used in these planters is as durable as your siding and plumbing. But, there are some things you can do to protect your plastic planters in the cold weather coming up.

Sunlight


Just like any other PVC material, your plastic garden planters can deteriorate in direct sunlight. Although this is one of the most durable products, the long days of summer, with direct sunlight shining on the pots, can weaken the material. But with lush plantings, the plants actually absorb the sunshine, rather than letting the rays reach the plastic. The winter sun, however, can create a problem by unevenly warming the surface of a frozen planter. This may cause cracks in the planter. If you can, move the planter out of the sun to protect it from uneven warming.

Water


Water, of course, expands as it freezes. While plants still need water during the winter in order to keep the roots healthy, too much water may damage your pots, expanding them more than they can adapt to in freezing weather. This can be exacerbated by the freeze-thaw cycle, in which snow piled up on and in a planter melts during the day, and refreezes at night. This will break down your plastic planters faster than anything. And, most of the time, those planters do not have any plants in them, anyway.

Brittleness


With colder temperatures, your plastic planters may become brittle. This is not much of a problem as long as nothing strikes the surface. If you can, keep these planters out of the way, so that you do not run the risk of hitting them with a snow blower or other machinery. Even pets running through the snow can careen into a frozen planter, shattering it unexpectedly.

Gauge

The gauge of plastic you select for your planters is important. More durable products are heavy gauge, meaning they are thicker plastic. This is, of course, stronger than thin or light-weight plastic.

Storage

Face it – in the winter, not much will grow in your garden. Sure, you may plant flat after flat of pansies and cabbage plants, but the truth is, most of your plastic planters will sit idle during the winter season, covered in snow and not even visible.

If this is the case, store those planters. Even if you do not have a climate control storage unit, having the planters out of winter weather will extend the life. They will not be subject to fluctuations of moisture, and even if they freeze, there will not be any pressure on them from a growing root ball. Many people simply move the emptied pots to the lee side of their house or shed, just to keep them out of the way and to protect them from winter storms.