Lawn Watering Conservation Tips

Lawn Watering Conservation Tips

Lawn Watering Conservation TipsAfter getting the utility costs down inside this year, I plan on heading off the rise in my water bill from lawn/garden maintenance pronto–no more learning the hard way for me.  Although I get quite a bit of rain in my area, I still have to water pretty regularly in the summer months {nothing like the hotter regions of the country, though}.  I have used these watering saving tips in the past with success, so I thought I would pass them onto you so you can use them as they apply to your area:

  1. Water early in the morning or late in the evening.  That will cut down on evaporation.
  2. Mulch your plants.  Give their roots a layer of cool insulation, that way, they can retain water.
  3. Plan a rainwater collection system.  That is FREE water {after initial investment costs}.  I love pretty much anything that is free.
  4. Group plants with the same watering requirements together.  That way, you don’t over-water/under-water any of them.
  5. If you plan on putting a walking path in your yard, use porous materials–like gravel or bark.  That way, any water run-off will soak back into the surrounding areas.
  6. Leave grass clippings on the lawn when you mow, instead of bagging them.  That way, it will shade the roots of the grass and retain moisture.
  7. Aerate your lawn in the spring.  It makes it easier for your lawn to pull in moisture.
  8. In the west, most varieties of grass only need about 2.5 cm of water per week.  You may be over-watering unintentionally.
  9. Dig a circular trench around plants so that water will stay where it needs to…it’s like a moat for the plant to draw on.
  10. Water slowly for a longer period of time, rather than blasting the spot with a hose for a couple of seconds.  That way, the soil can absorb the water without it just running off to places you don’t need to water.

How do YOU conserve water in your garden/yard the summertime?

~Mavis

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Lucy the Puggle Dog Helps in the Garden

lucy the puggle dog

lucy the puggle dogI set out to transplant some lettuce seedlings this morning and Lucy, my garden helper extraordinaire, decided to tag along.

lucy the puggle

At our last house she dug holes for me in the garden all the time, but here at our new house it’s a little harder for her because we built the garden boxes so high. 16″ to be exact. We built them higher this time around so we could grow root crops during the winter months {something that was difficult at our last place}.

lucy the puggle dog diggingWell today, Lucy finally got to do some digging.
lucy the puggle dog

18 holes to be exact. And she loved every minute of it.

Oh Lucy. I love you. You are such a good pup.

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9 Companion Plants to Grow with Your Squash

9 Companion Plants to Grow with Your Squash

9 Companion Plants to Grow with Your Squash
If you are toying with starting a garden and don’t know where to start, squash is where it’s at.  There are quite a few varieties {some that will store nearly all winter}, they offer high yields, and are pretty easy to grow.

Because squash can be susceptible to pests and disease, I typically use companion planting to ward off as much as I can.  Plus, using companion planting to enhance all of their awesomeness is another way to grow organically {and send a message to Mother Nature saying, “Hey, I get it, let’s do it your way.”}

bean teepees

If you are growing squash this year, here is a list of companion plants to try pairing it with:

  1. Beans.  Beans provide their own nitrogen {and give some back to the soil as well}, so they will leave plenty of nitrogen goodness for squash to grow.
  2. Peas.  Peas do the same as beans, so mix and match or pick whichever you prefer.shucking corn
  3. Corn.  In the dead heat of summer, corn will provide a nice amount of shade for squash.
  4. Marigolds.  Marigolds deter pests.  You can pretty much integrate them into any crop.
  5. Catnip or Tansy.  Both have been shown to reduce squash bugs–which WILL happen, so might as well make it less desirable for them to hang around.botanical interests sunflower seeds
  6. Sunflowers.  Sunflowers do the same thing as corn in that they provide shade for squash plants in the dead of summer.
  7. Mint.  The strong odor of mint will help deter pests.
  8. Nasturtiums.  This is another flower that will repel insects.  Mix them in with the marigolds and people will think you were just going for aesthetics, instead of being the master gardener that you are.  :)french breakfast radish
  9. Radish.  Again, the aroma is said to keep pests away.

Do you plan on using companion planting with your squash this year?

~Mavis

 

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10 Companion Plants to Grow with Your Tomatoes

10 Companion Plants to Grow with Your Tomatoes

10 Companion Plants to Grow with Your TomatoesIf you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am a huge fan of companion planting.  It makes sense to work with nature rather than against it.

growing lettuce and tomatoes together in the same pot

Tomatoes are like the measure of every good gardener.  I actually know people who grow them, and don’t really care for them that much {weirdos}.  Still, a bumper crop of tomatoes means you have arrived in the gardening world–you can officially wear dirt under you nails and a big straw hat with pride.  Because tomatoes can succumb to about a million different problems {rough estimate}, they are one of my favorite crops to use companion planting on.

sun-gold-tomatoes

In the interest of keeping it simple, I decided to make a list of some of the plants that do well with tomatoes.  Also, for the record, there are some discrepancies among gardeners about which plants go well and which don’t {I’ve noticed it in quite a few conflicts in my gardening books–who knew gardening could be so controversial? ;)}, so of course, if you have read conflicting information,  just keep skimming down the list until you find another companion plant you like…fresh-organic-basil

  1. Basil.  It totally makes sense, basil and tomatoes taste amazing together.  It’s a symbiotic relationship.
  2. Marigolds.  Marigolds are like the golden child of companion planting.  They deter pests, and they look good doing it.
  3. Carrots.  Plant carrots a couple of weeks before you plant the tomatoes, to give them a chance, and then plant tomatoes in around them.  That way, in the hot summer months, the tomatoes will shade the carrots.  Fair warning:  the carrots might be a little smaller, as the tomato roots will probably win the space battle, but they will be flavor-packed.cutting lettuce leaves
  4. Lettuce.  Really, this one should be in a lettuce post.   The tomatoes shade the lettuce in the hot summer months, making it easier to grow lettuce all year.
  5. Borage.  Borage supposedly repels hornworms.
  6. Peppers.  These work well together because they have a lot of the same growing requirements:  full sun, nice hot soil, and similar watering needs.bowl of fresh green beans
  7. Beans.  Beans provide nitrogen to the soil.  Tomatoes love nitrogen.  Beans and tomatoes sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.  I’m twelve, I can’t help myself.
  8. Celery.  Again, big ol’ tomato plants shade celery.
  9. Thyme, Parsley and Dill.  Basically, a tomato and herb garden planted together are as happy as pigs in mud.
  10. Asparagus.  You can plant your tomatoes all around your already established asparagus patch.

How about you, do you have any swear-by tomato companions?

~Mavis

 

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Basic Guide to Growing Wisteria

wisteria

wisteria-over-garden-gate

Yesterday I planted my Japanese purple Wisteria in front of our NEWLY CONSTRUCTED FENCE {that’s right, privacy is back, baby!}.  I have had Wisteria in my yard for years because it’s pretty quick growing, looks pretty freakin’ fantastic crawling across just about anything, and it requires almost nothing of me after planting, except a yearly pruning.

Wisteria is super easy to train to grow up a trellis or over an arbor or pergola.  It adds a wall of color–which is pretty darn cool, if you ask me.

wisteria

To plant Wisteria, you need to start with a nice healthy vine.  In these parts, at least, those are easy to come by.  Pretty much any major nursery will have them available.  Then, choose your location.  Wisteria doesn’t have to have full sun, but it will flower much more if it does.

To get that sucker in the ground, dig a hole about 2-3 times the size of the root ball or roots.  Place it in the hole, and then back fill the hole with a mixture of soil and compost.  For the first year, at least, you should also cover the base of the plant with a thick layer of mulch.  The mulch will help protect it’s initially delicate roots and keep moisture constant.  Finally, water it in, and walk away–your job is done.

wisteria-growing-arbor

To maintain Wisteria, you really only need to prune it once a year {more if it starts to take over}.  It’s best to prune it AFTER the flowering season, otherwise, you run the risk of stopping it from flowering at all.  There really isn’t a secret to pruning it, just trim it back to your eyes’ liking.

As far as watering and fertilizing go:  forget about it {please read in heavy Italian accent}.  You really don’t need to water it if you live in an area that receives more than an inch of rainfall per year.  And since it will grow fine all on its own, no need to waste your money on fertilizer.

wisteriaOne last word of warning, when I first started planting Wisteria, readers chimed in to let me know not to plant it too close to any other trees, as it could eventually choke them out.  So, I always consider that bit of advice before I choose a location for my Wisteria.  {Apparently, in the South, Wisteria is even considered a bit invasive, which is a big giant bummer.}

How about YOU, do you have Wisteria in your garden?  Does it make you giddy with delight when you see it draping across your eye-line, or is it just me?

~Mavis

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The 411 on Succession Planting

The 411 on Succession Planting

The 411 on Succession Planting
After I wrote the title for this post, I wondered, do people even know what 411 stands for anymore?  Should I have called it the Google on Succession Planting?  Man, technology makes me feel old sometimes.

Anyway, moving on.  Succession planting–do you do it?  If you don’t, you totally should.  It gives you a continuous crop of your favorite veggies, without overloading you with one massive harvest.

root vegetbales potatoes carrots beetsIn case you don’t know, succession planting is basically just staggering when you plant the same thing {instead of putting it all in the ground at once} to ensure that your harvest time will be staggered as well.  Does that make sense? Sometimes I feel like I am just mumbling through the computer?  Let me give an example, instead of having 5 ripe cantaloupes all at once, you stagger your planting, and have 2-3 for several weeks in a row.  It requires you to leave some empty space in your garden and plan ahead, but it is totally worth it.

growing green beans in garden boxesIf you’re interested in trying, here a basis succession planting schedule:

Green Beans – Plant every 10 days
Beets – Plant every 14 days
Cucumbers – Plants every 3 weeks
Kale/Colloards – Plant every 3 weeks
Lettuce – Plant every 10-14 days  {this is my favorite thing for succession planting.  It’s impossible to eat it all at once, so having different types of lettuce that will produce every couple of weeks is perfect}.
Melons – Plant every 3 weeks
Radish – Plant every 7 days
Spinach – Plant every 7 days
Summer Squash – plant every 6 weeks
Sweet Corn – Plant every 10 days
Carrots – Plant every 2-3 weeks {as weather allows, stop when it gets too hot and resume in late summer/early fall}
Cauliflower – Plant every 2 weeks {as weather allows, stop when it gets too hot and resume again in late summer/early fall}
Turnips – Plant every 7 Days

dinosaur-kaleDo you already do this?  What are your favorite crops to practice succession planting?

~Mavis

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A Cry for Help

boxwoods

boxwoods

Someone. Please. Please take my car keys away so I can’t get in my car and drive to our local nursery or The Home Depot and buy more plants.

I’m begging you. Now that the fence is up… I can’t stop.

plants in car

I need an intervention. Like pronto Tonto.

planting lettuce

Yesterday I planted a boxwood hedge in the front garden bed. And then I added a row of petunias and then romaine lettuce. I may have also planted some other plant crack as well but I’m keeping it on the down low in case someone from the HOA is reading this.
kale

I even planted KALE!!! {I told you I need an intervention!}petunias

Oh, and I planted about 100 petunias in another front bed. I had scattered some perennial seeds in the same spot a while back but they are talking their own sweet time. I figure by next summer I’ll have a full on perennial flower bed and won’t need to {waste} spend money on annuals to brighten up the space. planting an espalier tree

Espalier pear trees? Check.

planting wisteria

Wisteria… getting planted today.douglass fir garden boxes

And the second 5’x10′ garden box should be in place {and filled} by this evening as well.

seedlings

I’m thinking about asking stroller mom if I can borrow her headlamp so I can get more planting time in. I mean come one… only 15 hours of sunlight? What’s the deal with that. I need MORE TIME.
lucy the puggle dog

Meanwhile, Lucy the puggle princess has taken up bird watching and is having a great time soaking up her new backyard.

Happiness. It’s kind of a cool thing.

~Mavisbotanical interests seedsThis years garden is being sponsored by the awesome folks at Botanical Interests Seed Company. You can check out their website HERE, order their new 2015 Garden Seed Catalogor see the seeds I’ll be growing in my garden this year HERE.

Up for a tour? Read about our behind the scenes tour of Botanical Interests Seed Company.

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A Quick Guide to Companion Planting

companion planting

Growing a garden organically requires a little more thought and planning than your standard garden, I think.  You have to really nurse your soil with compost and crop rotation.  Companion planting is another way to get the most out of each plant’s properties, without having to chemically blast them when something goes wrong.  It’s not a sure-fire safe-guard, but it does provide some added protection and nurturing.

basil plant

Companion planting is basically planting certain plants next to each other because they compliment each other in some way–their root systems don’t interfere with one another, one provides a natural insect repellent for the other, one gives nitrogen to the soil and the other taketh away–see where I am going with this?

Companion planting can feel a bit overwhelming, but all  you really need to know likes to go together and what should be kept apart.  A few years back I made myself a handy-dandy little chart {and posted it}, and since nothing has changed, I thought I would re-post it for you to reference when you are planting your garden over the next few weeks.

Plant Name

Plant Close To:

Keep Away From:

Repels

Basil Most Garden Crops–especially tomatoes and lettuce Rue Mosquitoes
Bush Beans Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Catnip, Cauliflower, Corn, Cucumbers, Marigolds, Potatoes, Savory, Strawberries Fennel, Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Shallots
Pole Beans Corn, Marigolds, Potatoes, Radishes Beets, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Shallots
Beets Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Bush Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Kohlrabi, Onions Charlock, Field Mustard, Pole Beans
Borage Squash, Strawberries Tomato Worms
Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts Beets, Buckwheat, Calendula, Carrots, Chamomile, Dill, Hyssop, Marigolds, Mints, Nasturtiums, Onions, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Wormwood Strawberries
Cabbage and Cauliflower Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Celery, Chard, Spinach Strawberries
Cantaloupe Corn
Carrots Cabbage, Chives, Early Potatoes, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Radishes, Rosemary, Sage, Salsify, Wormwood
Chives Apples, Berries, Carrots, Grapes, Peas, Roses, Tomatoes Aphids and Japanese Beetles
Corn Beans, Cucumbers, Early Potatoes, Melons, Peas, Pumpkins, Soybeans, Squash  Tomatoes
Cucumbers Beans, Cabbage, Early Potatoes, Radishes, Sunflowers Late Potatoes
Dill Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Lettuce, Onions Carrots
Eggplant Green Beans, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes
Garlic Cabbage, Cane Fruits, Fruit Trees, Roses, Tomatoes Peas, Beans Japanese Beatles and Aphid, Ermine Moths, and Late Potato blight.
Kale Aromatic herbs, Buckwheat, Cabbage Family, Marigolds, Nasturtiums Pole Beans, Strawberries
Kohrabi Cabbage/Cauliflower Companions {except tomatoes} Fennel, Pole Beans, Tomatoes
Lettuce Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, Radishes, Strawberries Cabbage Family
Marigolds All Garden Crops Bean Beetles, Aphids, Potato Bugs, Squash Bugs, Nematodes, and Maggots
Marjoram All Garden Crops
Mustard Alfalfa Cover Crops, Fruit Trees, Grapes, Legumes
Nasturtiums Apples, Beans, Cabbage Family, Greenhouse Crops, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Squash Aphids, Potato Bugs, Squash Bugs, Striped Pumpkin Beetles, and Mexican Bean Beetles.  Destroys whiteflies in greenhoues.
Onions Beets, Cabbage Family, Carrots, Chamomile, Lettuce, Parsnips Beans, Peas Many insects/pests–especially maggots
Oregano All Garden Crops Many insects/pests
Parsley Corn, Roses, Tomatoes
Parnips Onions, Radishes, Wormwood
Peas Beans, Carrots, Corn, Cucumbers, Early Potatoes, Radishes, Turnip Garlic, Leeks, Onions Shallots
Peppers Basil, Carrots, Eggplant, Onions, Parsley, Tomatoes Fennel, Kohlrabi
Potatoes Basil, Beans, Cabbage Family, Corn, Eggplant, Flax, Hemp, Marigolds, Peas, Squash Apples, Birch, Cherries, Cucumbers, Pumpkins, Raspberries, Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Walnuts
Radishes Cervil, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Melons, Peas, Nasturtiums, Root Crops Hyssop Cucumber Beetles
Rosemary Beans, Cabbage, Carrots Bean Beetles, Cabbage Moths, and Carrot Flies
Sage Cabbage Family, Carrots, Tomatoes Cucumbers Cabbage Moths and Carrot Flies
Soybeans Corn, Potatoes
Spinach Celery, Cauliflower, Eggplant, Strawberries
Strawberries Borage, Bush Beans, Lettuce, Pyrethrum, Spinach Cabbage Family
Sunflowers Cucumbers Potatoes
Swiss Chard Bush Beans, Kohrabi, Onions Pole Beans
Tarragon All Garden Crops
Thyme All Garden Crops Cabbage Moths
Tomatoes Asparagus, Basil, Carrots, Gooseberries, Mustard, Parsley, Onions, Rosemary, Sage, Chives, Bee Balm, Celery, Pepper Fennel, Kohlrabi, Potatoes, Walnuts, Dill, Corn
Turnips and Rutabagas Peas Knotweed, Mustard

 

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