Create a Low Maintenance Green Space with Style

579085Regardless of what type of green space you may have, there is no reason to spend your summer drudging through your garden to do list.  Utilizing a few or all of these techniques will lighten up the wheelbarrow load of garden chores while reducing ones stress and carbon footprint.

These techniques can be broken down into gardener style and level of expertise.

No Time, Brown Thumb Gardener

If you are an individual that has no time to garden or do yard work, do not despair.  There are gardening techniques that can be used that will allow you to have a low maintenance yard and garden.

The first technique to use is to remove or do not plant a traditional lawn.  Instead, plant a perennial meadow that is native to your area.  The mix can include native grasses and flowers.  Utilizing this approach will only require one mowing a year but before you do this do not forget to tell the neighbors and check your community bylaws.

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How to Grow Your Own Aromatherapy Garden

aromatherapyAromatherapy has a long history; as a matter of fact it has a history that is 2700 years old.  The literal definition of aromatherapy is aroma or fragrance and therapy or treatment.  In other words, aromatherapy means fragrance treatment.

The Chinese, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians used this treatment.  The Egyptians believed that smells could raise one to a higher power or tranquility.  The ancient Chinese used herbs to show respect to the gods by burning aromatic wood and/or incense.

The Greeks used scents in oils.  These oils were used both as a medicine and cosmetic.  Aromatherapy took a turn when Asclepius, a physician, combined herbs and surgery around 1200 BC.  He later became known in Greek mythology as the god of healing.

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Extend and Preserve Cupid’s Love with Proper Rose Care

roseValentine’s Day is a holiday of love and flowers.  Traditional flowers that are given for this holiday are roses.  But how to care for your roses and what are some unique ways you can preserve and extend that gift of love.

Fresh Rose Care

Proper care of ones roses begins at the floral shop and should include appropriate selection.  First, check the condition of the rose petals and buds.  Are the buds closed and the petals secured to the stem?  Are they a good color and free of discoloration and/or damage?

Once you have checked your roses and selected them appropriately, the next step is to properly transport the roses.  While the water valves that many flowers have on the end of their stems are helpful, roses will be fine on a temporary basis until you arrive home.

After you arrive at home, remove the roses from their box.  Fill a chosen vase with warm water and floral preservative.  If you do not have any floral preservative, do not worry.  A simple solution of water, bleach and sugar or clear soda will work.

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Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with a Dragon Themed Garden

dragonChinese astrology utilizes several different types of animals that occur at different times and frequencies.  The dragon appears every 12 years and 2012 just happens to coincide with this cycle.  An easy way of celebrating the Year of the Dragon all year long and beyond is through ones landscape.

Before one can come up with their dragon themed landscape, one must first understand the history of the dragon.  Around 4,000 years ago two large tribes and several smaller tribes had animals as emblems.  The tribes came together and created a unified symbol that encompassed all the animal emblems.  This meshing of such animals as the tiger, fish, snake, and eagle created the dragon.

Individuals who are born under a dragon year are strong, independent people.  They are also innovative and creative but have a short temper and a sharp tongue.  All these personal factors need to be considered when designing the garden space.

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A Guide to a New Garden Season: A Plan to Meet Your Garden Needs

veggie_gardenEvery gardener has been in that situation where they either produced too much produce or not enough.  While a lot of external factors play a role in a garden’s production, it is a good idea to create a general plan of how much you will need for the season.  But before you can devise that plan, one must gather some personal information.

The first question one needs to ask is who is going to be supported by the garden space and what is its role.  An easy way of organizing this information is in a chart form.  On the left side of the form, one should list those who will benefit from the garden space.

Once this is done, the next step is to decide how and when the garden produce will be used.  It is said that every person needs 16 plants per meal or a 4 by 4 square foot area.  An example of this concept is the salad garden.  If you plan to serve one person a salad a day, then you only need 16 plants or the appropriate square foot area.

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A Guide to a New Garden Season: Getting the Most from Your Seed Catalogue

seed_catalogueBefore you buy your first packet of seeds or the first plant for the garden space, the gardener will need to evaluate their needs.  This goes beyond knowing the number of plants you will need or the amount of garden space but includes your needs, wants, and budget for upcoming project.

An easy way of organizing this information is through a chart.  This chart should become part of the garden journal.  As time goes on, it chronicles the changes in ones garden space.  These changes can be range from family dynamics to financial situations.

To begin this process, draw up a chart that consists of three columns.  The first column should be labeled needs.  The second column should be labeled wants and the third column should be labeled supplies.

Once this is done, begin to fill in the first column.  List everything you have to have in the garden space.  If your garden is going to be a salad garden, then greens, tomatoes and peppers may be a top priority.  Continue with this list until you have all your needs listed.

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A Guide to a New Garden Season: Moving to the Garden Space

garden_journal2A garden journal is only useful if it is used and used often.  This use starts out in January when the thoughts and dreams of a warm, outdoor space begin to flow.  Looking over what was done last year and planning this year is one use for a garden journal.  Another use is to document a proposed garden space by creating a blueprint for the garden but if the plan stops here it is useless.

When a gardener first goes out to the garden, they need to take along their journal.  They can add more detail to the plan while they are inspecting the space.  Also, the journal needs to be present during the construction of the space.

Once the garden has been prepared, the journal should not be placed on a shelf but instead needs to go out when the first seeds or plants enter the space.  If the journal has been done properly, it will provide a blueprint for where the plant material goes, spacing of that plant material and any accessories that will be needed.  This includes cages, fencing and/or stakes.

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A Guide to a New Garden Season: Starting your Garden Indoors

seed_germinationStarting seeds indoors for the upcoming gardening season is a great way of brightening up ones space and mood along with saving money.  It does not take a lot of equipment or time but to be successful one must start the process correctly.

Contrary to what many people believe, seeds do not need sunlight to germinate.  A south-facing window though provides an excellent source of sunlight for the seeds once they germinate.  For seeds to germinate, they need a growing medium and moisture.

A growing medium can be several things including soil, perlite, vermiculite, and even a paper towel.  But the best planting medium to use for the beginning gardener is a light, fluffy soil that is loose in nature.  If you do not have this or cannot find a soil that meets this criterion, make your own.  It only requires equal parts of soil, vermiculite or perlite, and sphagnum moss.

Next, seeds need something that will hold the planting medium.  This is very open-ended and the only requirement is that the container needs to be at least 2-inches wide and 2-inches deep.  Plastic pots, cardboard egg cartons, and even paper cups can be used but if you are planting several seeds consider using greenhouse seed trays.

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A Guide to a New Garden Season: Create a Garden Journal

garden_journalA garden journal is a very important tool that every gardener should use.  It helps document the garden space’s history, which includes success and failures along with those who tilled the soil.  It can also include family recipes, seeds, and pictures and even pressed plant material that document a family’s journey through modern-day urban homesteading.

But before you sit down to document last year’s garden space, lets talk about some choices in journals.  A garden journal is only good if it is used and used often.  It needs to be gardener friendly and in a style that fits you.  Some people like to use scrapbooks to document every year’s garden while other simply use a spiral notebook or school notebook.  Other choices include using a folder to store loose-leaf paper, handmade journals made from scrap or junk mail or even a journal on the computer.  If you use the later approach, consider pulling it up on your smart phone when you are at the nursery or garden center.  This could be very valuable, especially if you have a question about plant material.

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Forcing Bulbs for Winter Cheer

PlantBulbAs the dreary days of winter continue, the idea of having a little touch of spring in ones indoor environment seems to be nothing but a dream.  But this dream can become reality by forcing spring bulbs.

Before one can force bulbs one must first understand the process by which bulbs grow.  Spring bulbs start their dormant period in late summer.  This is a time when the bulb stops growing.  As the soil temperature cools, roots begin to grow again until the temperatures become too cold.  Shoots begin to break the soil surface in the spring and shortly after the foliage appears blooms are not too far behind.  After the bulb blooms, the foliage will continue to grow and provide food for the bulb through photosynthesis.  As summer approaches, the foliage will begin to die back and the bulb will go into dormancy.  Forcing is simply the process of mimicking this cycle.

Before one can “force” a bulb to bloom, one must first do their homework.  All bulbs need exposure to cold except paperwhite narcissus and Iris recticulata. The remaining bulbs that are commonly used for forcing include Iris danfordias, tulip, iris, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, glory of the snow, daffodil, and crocus.  These remaining bulbs have a cold period that ranges from eleven to seventeen weeks.

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