Monthly Archives: April 2016

CompostingA walk through the woods off of the beaten path, or paved path in the case of city parks, will point out the ease of composting. Take a look at the big birch or maple or ash or oak or whatever other tree grows beside the path in your neighborhood. Depending upon the time of year, the tree is covered with leaves, losing leaves or bare of leaves. All those leaves fall to the ground. If you have a similar tree in your yard, every year you rake up what seems to be at least a foot of leaves. Why are there not at least thirty feet of leaves under the trees in the woods accumulated over the last thirty years of growth? Surely the wind has not blown all of them away.

The answer is found beneath the few leaves left under the tree. A quick scuff of the foot reveals black earth full of organic matter, compost. First a layer of last year's leaves with the general detritus of a woodland floor, then that layer of black matter, the leaves of past years broken down by bacteria, fungi, insects and animals of the forest floor.

Leaves are designed to feed a tree. When green photosynthesis allows the sunlight on the leaves to feed the trees in one way, but when brown the feeding continues as the leaves turn to compost and furnish the roots with nutrients the roots have in their turn brought from the depths of the earth. That same growth potential can be brought to the home garden with compost.

In fact even the method of the trees can be used at home. The sheet composting method is one of the most simple. As one example, consider the garden bed in the fall that will need about three inches of compost in spring. Instead of waiting for a busy spring, it can done in the fall. A layer of garden debris form that or other beds can be spread out over the site to about three inches thick. Next, the lawn mower about to put away for winter is used to mow bags of leaves piled from nearby trees. The chopped leaves are spread another three to six inches over the bed. Everything is neatened up and perhaps watered to settle the chopped leaves, which, incidentally, seem to form a sort of jigsaw puzzle to hold together and not blow around the yard following the mowing. By planting time in the spring there will be a great layer of compost to put the seedlings into or to dig into the bed before planting seeds.

Relax and compost. Things rot and return to nourish the earth. All we have to do is copy what nature teaches us and let things grow as they like to grow.

Growing Plants From SeedI wonder about growing plants from seed every year, even though I used to start over twelve hundred every year. Still, it is amazing to see them grow and flourish when the seeds are often so tiny. On the other hand, there is a lot that says for us to relax and just plant them and let them grow the way want to grow.

I have watched small children and even tried to help them plant seeds to grow up to be everything for beans to marigolds to sunflowers. Their hands are small and fine coordination is lacking and their enthusiasm makes everything spill and water pour too hard and seeds go to deep. When the leaves appear and the plant grows on I am not sure who is more excited, me of them. Certainly I am amazed at how the enthusiasm has succeeded over careful manipulation and my years of practice.

When you look out our living room window you can see a bird feeder hanging from a branch of the pine tree. It is visited by all sorts of birds from chickadees to a woodpecker that seems to think the peanuts are his. Often the chickadees in particular will hold on to the feeder and sort through the fare for sunflower seeds, meanwhile throwing aside all sorts of other goodies to the ground where there is already scattered other birdseed for the juncos, mourning doves and bluejays. Every summer some kind of grain tries to grow there as well as sunflowers and other plants. One or two tend to start in among the potted plants that grow on the patio next to the feeder. Mostly the deer tend to nip them off, but the plants are growing well most of the time before that.

No one planted them or gave them special soil. They fell as nature intended, moved by some birds and missed by others. Possibly some moved through the animal's digestive tract although I have seen little evidence of that.

Yet we worry about sowing seeds indoors for fear that they will not grow or they will collapse. Too much water may be given or too little. Questions arise of light and potting mixes and temperatures and if a cold frame is needed and what to do with it. Much of the time we worry we stand beneath a pine tree reaching 50 feet into the air. Only God or Mother Nature or happenstance have planted it depending on your point of view and even God just threw out some seed and stood back to see what would happen.

It is good to do our best to try and get things right and start our plants off as best we can, but it is also good to remember that we garden because it is fun. We start plants from seed because it is not something we wish to agonize over but rather something to enjoy. It is another step in the progress from empty soil to flourishing flowers and delicious vegetables. Plants like to grow. Seed likes to be sown. Just relax and enjoy. Something will grow.

Maintaining Your Zoysia GrassZoysia is a particular variety of hardy grass that grows well in a wide range of conditions. This type of grass also requires far less watering and mowing than most grasses. This particular variety of grass can also create a natural thick and soft carpet that feels great for bare feet. Zoysia is also ideal because it actually grows differently. It expands sideways and doesn't grow higher in a short span of time. Because of this, this type of grass can become so dense and becomes effective at choking out most summer weeds and replacing existing grass that you don't want on your lawn anymore.

Although Zoysia is a low-maintenance type of grass, it still needs proper care and maintenance to make sure they maintain their appeal and good condition. Below are some useful tips you can follow to maintain your Zoysia grass:

Fertilize. All well-maintained lawns are fertilized with the right amount and kind needed for that particular grass and on a schedule based on the growing season. When you fertilize, you keep the grass healthy and enable them to build resistance to disease and insect damage. Lawn care experts say that you should fertilize your turf heavily in the spring and summer - a practice called "main feeding" of your Zoysia turf.

Cut Zoysia grass at the height of just one to two inches. Zoysia has a high silica content in which the blade becomes tougher when the leaf is permitted to grow longer. Zoysia also has a stiffer blade texture than most lawn grasses; as such, it requires the blades of a mower to be sharpened more often to obtain the maximum clipping action. Lawn care experts also recommend that you mow your turf 1 to 2 times a week if watered and fertilized more or every 7-14 days on a low fertilization and watering schedule.

Water the grass only when necessary. Zoysia is more drought resistant in the cooler regions. When fully established, they have a deep root system and should only be watered when they show signs of needing it. The normal rate of water for good growth of Zoysia is 1 inch per week. A clear indication of water stress is when the blades start to curl inward. In addition, water only in the early afternoon on new plantings or early morning on established turf grasses for the best results.

Remove thatch. Finally, lawn care experts say that every other year, remove accumulated thatch and debris. It is best to do this in the late winter before the turf turns green. Use a commercial machine to scalp or de-thatch remove debris from your lawn.

Design Layout for a Small GardenEveryone loves a beautiful garden whether big or small. Designing your ideal garden is easy when proper planning is done in advance. A small patio garden is very private and easy to maintain, depending on where you would like your garden to be laid out. If you are living in a small complex where there is no space for a garden, you can design the garden on your patio. If you have small but enough space, then go on and design the ideal garden you want.

If it's your first time designing a garden you can either hire a professional landscape architect, or you can do it yourself. Designing your own garden shouldn't be very difficult especially if you have ideas on how you would want it to look. Either way, designing your garden should be a fun and relaxing experience. Get all the information you would require to design a garden and do it yourself. You will get a list of garden items such as flowers, plants, spade, wheel barrow, garden fork, paving bricks, cobblestones and other garden tools. Think about where you want to place the flowers, which areas are to be covered with grass and where to place the walkways. If you want to have a water feature, find out where the pipes will be laid and where the water feature will look best. Keep in mind that it will need to be a small feature otherwise it will take up much space. Consider placing it along a wall so that it's not in the way and it will create a serene scene. Choose paving bricks that are weather resistant and cobblestones that suit the theme of your garden.

Once your planning is done, then you can start with the planting process. The earlier you plant your seedlings the sooner you can start on the next step. While small gardens and terrace patio undoubtedly come with their own set of design challenges, even the most economical of plots can be reworked into beautiful and elegant outdoor havens.

Think small but perfectly formed. Using space intelligently is the key to making a small garden work such as seats that double up as storage, wall-mounted flower pots or herb planters and even folding furniture will all help free up precious space. The right garden accessories and plant species can set the tone for a tranquil outdoor atmosphere. You could add a small gazebo that can bring lots of shelter. Surround your gazebo with cobblestonesand some grass for relaxing summer picnics.

To light up your garden you can use solar panels and lanterns that are the safest and most eco-friendly options in your garden and they can placed anywhere in your garden. Think out of the box when it comes to a small garden space and you'll create a tranquil masterpiece

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