Posts Tagged With: plants and flowers

A Message to the Beginner of Herb Gardening

Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington, USADear, Runyon Equipment Rental: Well, well, well! I am not a gardener! My husband has had a vegetable garden for years and does the flower garden for us. I want to try my hand with an herb garden. I stumbled across your website and liked what I saw. I have rosemary in the front of my house and mint on the side. You gave some great ideas on the fragrances and colors. Any suggestion that you can give to get this beginner started would be great! Thank you! – Darlene, Hatfield, PA

Dear, Darlene: First of all, since you are a beginner, I recommend you purchase herbs at Lowe’s and keep your receipt! If the plant dies, you are able to receive a new one as long as you bring in your receipt with the dead plant. This policy was a lifesaver when I first began growing my own herbs. Bonnie plants come in a pot that you can plant in the ground. I think they are the best to buy, but I always cut the plant out of the pot prior to planting.

Some do’s and don’ts:

  • Avoid planting mint or lemongrass in the ground since these plants are known to be invasive and will literally overtake your garden. Plant these in containers!
  • Sage is lovely and grows into a beautiful bush, after about 10 years, though it starts to get leggy. Oregano is another perennial that tends to grow large and will need to be trimmed. I have mine in my English Garden surrounding the bird bath.
  • I love lavender too. I love to cook and make my own herbes de provence which is great on pork and chicken. There are many varieties of lavender, which is in the mint family. If you are using for culinary, buy lavandula augustifolia. Use the purple flower for cooking. I plant rosemary and thyme around lavender since they contrast so nicely.
  • Chives, which are a cross between garlic and onion in taste, add beautiful contrast because of their long green stems. They flower pinkish purple on top. Make sure the stem is not used when adding this herb to food. The texture is tough, and it would be like chewing on a stick. Chives also tend to be spreaders, so I have mine cornered with the patio and paver blocks.

All the above come back year after year and grow with great scent and with vibrant color. All herbs need a lot of sunlight, so  ensure these are planted in areas that receive sufficient sun. I always plant around Mother’s Day, which is right around the corner! Some words of advice – make your hole twice the size of your pot, remove the plant from the pot gently, and rub around the bottom and the sides so the roots are loosened, and then plant in such a position that their little heads poke out of the ground. I use top soil to fill in the hole surrounding the plant.

herbsThe next herbs are annuals. Unfortunately, they wither away at the end of the summer into fall. I always buy dill, basil, and Italian parsley. For eating basil, you will want to pinch off the tops so they won’t flower and make the leaf bitter.  In the summer, you have to pinch daily.

When picking them, grab from the top since it encourages growth. Pick after the dew has dried. I use juice size glasses, filled with water and put them in the fridge in separate glasses. They last about a week or two as readily available ingredients to flavor your cooking.

When drying herbs for winter’s use, I grab my colander and cut what I want, rinse from the hose and rubber band the stems together and hang upside down.  It takes about a week for them to dry out, remove the leaves from the stem over wax paper and dryingherbsthrow into the coffee mill.  I use little box tins from Michael’s and give as gifts too.

Plant citronella and lavender near your patio or seating areas since they are a known mosquito repellent. Herbs are super easy to grow – just water in the morning with a watering can or pump and be sure to water the dirt, not the plant. Feel the dirt, and if it’s not moist – the plant needs water. You’ll want pots that have a hole in the bottom and water until a small stream comes through. When your herbs are in the ground, again, just water the dirt.

Hopefully, you will have a wonderful herb garden that makes you happy like mine does for me. The food tastes so much better with fresh herbs!

From aerators and lawn mowers to wheelbarrows and tillers , our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Looking for additional information on gardening? Check out our infographic on growing vegetables for more helpful tips. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Garden To-do’s Part 1: Plant Bulbs

How To Plant Spring BulbsSome say gardening is a relaxing pastime, when in truth, it’s a never-ending cycle of things to do. Here we are just emerging our arctic winter, celebrating spring, when we find ourselves looking at the calendar wondering, “What’s next?” Well friends, it is time to consider planting bulbs for that wave of summer color we all crave in our yards.

Once the ground has warmed up to about 60 degrees or higher, DIY gardeners can plant summer blooming bulbs. A good rule of thumb is, if folks in your area are planting tomatoes, then it is time to set out the bulbs. So decide on what you want to plant and get busy.

These are a few summer blooming bulbs to consider:

  • Begonias
  • Caladium
  • Cannas
  • Dahlias
  • Gladiola
  • Calla Lilies
  • Tuberose

After deciding what you want to plant, select a well-draining location in your garden. Good drainage is key to preventing mold and rot from developing on the bulbs. Here are a few simple rules to follow when you are ready to put the bulbs in your garden.

  • Give a Little – Amend the soil by tilling in compost or manure. It helps the roots establish and promotes better blooms.
  • Go Deep – Dig a hole for the bulbs that is at least 3 times as deep as the bulb’s diameter. Follow the directions on the packaging.
  • Drinking Allowed – Make sure the bulbs are well watered after going in the ground but allow the soil to dry out between watering.
  • Don’t Say it! (Just do it) – Yes, that 4 letter word – weed. These pesky sprouts will rob your plants of the key nutrients they need to flourish, so just get rid of them.
  • Feed Me – Once your plants have broken ground and are blooming, treat them with a balanced fertilizer to help fortify the roots and give you a second round of blooms during the growing season.

If you haven’t had good luck with bulbs (those darn squirrels!) or if you just want summer blooms sooner, there is hope for you. Try buying pre-start plants from your local nursery or online plant supplier. There are plenty of them out there for those of us that are bulb challenged.

Speaking of squirrels and other vermin that will be taking aim at digging up newly planted bulbs, we’ve got a few suggestions for keeping them at bay.

  • Blood meal – Sprinkle this on the ground where you’ve put your bulbs and it will keep some animals away. Be warned that it can also attract raccoons and skunks.
  • Chili pepper – Use either the liquid or powdered form and spread it over your garden.
  • Predator hair or urine – Putting dog, cat or even human hair over the planted area will repel squirrels. You can also spread used kitty litter around the plants.
  • Un-tasty bulbs – Squirrels dislike daffodils, snowflakes, alliums and squill, so plant these bulbs around the area you are trying to protect.
  • Chicken wire – Place it or a window screen over the dirt. Once the plants start to break ground you can remove it.

Envision the Future

Before you get discouraged by the amount of gardening projects that your calendar holds, take a good look at your yard. Picture the beautiful flowers and plants that will spring up from the bulbs you so lovingly planted. Relaxation does comes at the end of a long day of weeding and watering. Sure, you may be sore and can’t raise your arms to drink that cold one in your hands, but doesn’t your yard look fabulous?!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From wheelbarrows to tillers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Items on Your Mid-Summer Gardening Checklist

5 Items on Your Mid-Summer Gardening ChecklistFor do-it-yourself gardeners, the summer season is just starting to heat up! Now’s the time to enjoy all the beauty that your garden, yard and landscape have to offer — at least until summer’s end, which isn’t until September 23.

Yet, a gardener’s work is never done – from mowing the lawn to weeding flower beds – the best way to keep your home grown oasis looking fabulous is regular maintenance. The more care and passion you put into making your garden grow, the more enjoyment you’ll receive, not only from puttering among the begonias but from relaxing to take a look at your handiwork. With this helpful gardening checklist, you’ll be well on your way to enhancing your garden experience!

1. Re-plant Annual Flower Beds: Replace cool-weather annuals that have stopped blooming or have already died back with heat-loving varieties such as verbena, lantana and geranium (in some areas of the country, these plants are considered perennials). Adding new annuals refreshes the garden with color and abundant flowers.

2. Add Tropical Flair: Surround your patio or deck with bird-of-paradise, fig, elephant’s ear, hibiscus, dracaena or bougainvillea, warm-climate plants that love the heat and humidity, which intensifies during the dog days of August. In the fall, move these tropical plants indoors and enjoy them as houseplants. Also, check the supports of palm trees, which are required for the first six to eight months to deter them from toppling over. Do not nail the supports to the trunk of the tree.

3. Add a Water Garden: From in-ground ponds with water lilies to container water gardens that display green and burgundy cannas, papyrus or pitcher plant, a water garden can actually add a cooling element to your landscape.

4. Tend to Vegetables: At this time of year, stop harvesting asparagus and rhubarb so these perennial edibles can prepare for next year’s crop. Mulch the area to prevent weeds from taking over the beds. Protect precious tomatoes from hornworm by inspecting the foliage in the morning and evening, when the big green-and-white caterpillars are feeding. Pick them off the plants with gloved hands and drop them in a jar of soapy water.

5. Prune Shrubs: Spring flowering shrubs such as lilac, hydrangea and spirea should be cut and shaped immediately after flowers fade. Wait until late summer or early fall, when there’s no danger of pruning away next year’s developing flower buds.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next gardening project. From planting advice to landscaping tools, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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