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The Benefits To Mulching Trees And Shrubs

Are you a gardener? There is something that is so relaxing about spending some time out in the sun working on a garden. You get the benefits of feeling satisfaction through your hard work and great fruits and vegetables to eat. It has many health benefits as well as studies show it helps to burn calories and provides help with mental well-being.

Growing a garden can be time consuming and hard work, but there are a few things that you can do to help improve the quality of your garden and make it easier to grow great produce. It is vital that the plants get enough water. Also, you need to make sure they are protected from bugs, deer, or other animals that may eat them. Finally, it is important that they get the proper nutrients. One great way to make sure your plants get the nutrients they need is by mulching them.

What is Mulch?

Mulches are material that covers the soil to help retain moisture, improve soil nutrients, and suppress weeds. This can make a big difference in how your plants grow. One thing that can be difficult is making sure that they get the water that they need. By covering your trees or shrubs with mulch, they will hold on to water for longer so that you don’t have to be as worried about them drying out.

A second benefit to mulching is that it helps keep the soil nutrient dense. As the mulch decomposes it releases nutrients into the ground so your trees and shrubs will have a constant supply of the minerals and nutrients they need. You can even make your own mulch out of recycled food products. This is great for the environment and it can save you a good amount of money.

A third benefit of mulching is that it can help keep weeds down. Much of our time working in a garden is polling those pesky weeds. It seems like every Saturday growing up I was spending hours pulling weeds in the morning. Weeds can take water and nutrients from your plants so it important to keep them away. But mulching your plants you will keep them weed free, properly watered, and give them good nutrients.

Make Your Own Mulch

Using the right tools can make a difference in maintaining your yard properly; this site has parts for Echo hedge trimmers and other outdoor tools. You can easily use the scraps from your old trees and other shrubs and make them into mulch. Here is a simple process to make your own mulch:

  1. Section off a part of your yard for your mulch/compost pile.
  2. Start off by adding leaves to the base. They tend to decompose faster.
  3. Rent a wood chipper so you can add the old branches from trees and hedges.
  4. Place additional layers of leaves on top of the branches that you have chopped.
  5. Allow the mulch pile to sit through the winter, about 4 months or so.
  6. In the spring, till the mulch into your garden to have nutrient-rich soil.
  7. For a layer around plants, use the wood chipper in the spring to create a nice-smelling mulch that can be added around the yard.
Gardening Uncategorized

Making Gardening Your New Hobby

There are a lot of people that have a hard time understanding what they can do in their spare time.  As you find that you have spare time you should be sure that you understand how you are going to be wise about spending your spare time doing something productive.

First, you should make sure that you take the time that you need to understand how you are going to be wise about the way that you are going to choose a hobby.  Finding a hobby can be a great way of ensuring that you are able to be productive throughout your spare time.

While you are looking for a hobby you should make sure that you start by learning what you are passionate about.  Make sure that you take the time that you need to be sure that you can understand the many different passions that you may want to explore in your spare time.

Gardening is a hobby that many people like to take up.  When you want to garden you should be sure that you understand how you are going to be wise about gardening successfully and starting a garden that you know is going to flourish and provide you with fresh foods.

As you are learning how you are going to start a successful garden you should make sure that you take the time that you need to understand how you can be wise about the entire process.  Starting wisely from the beginning will make all of the difference with your garden.

Make sure that you take the time that you need to be sure that you understand what space you have to work with.  When you are gardening you want to make sure that you have enough space for each of the plants to grow and for each of the root systems of the plants to grow.

There are many people that pack their plants too close to one another.  If you find that you are packing your plants too close to one another you are going to have to make sure that you reevaluate your space and either plant less plants or give yourself more room.

When you do not have a lot of room you may want to look into some alternative gardening solutions.  There are many ways that you can garden with limited amount of space and still find that you have plants flourishing and taking root in the small amount of space.

Make sure that you take the time that you need to investigate raised garden beds.  Raised garden beds can be a great way to ensure that you are going to be able to it the plants in your home into a small amount of space without having to worry about taking up too much room.

When you are looking into raised garden beds you will also find that you can control the soil very easily in these beds. You will be able to use the raised garden bed without any problem and you want to make sure that you take the time that you need to build the right bed.

As you are building your raised bed you should also make sure that you understand how you are going to ensure that it has the support it needs.  You do not want the bed to break open after a few months and then ruin the plants that you have worked hard to grow.

After finding out what type of gardening you want to take part in, you should then make sure that you understand how you are going to be wise about the consistency of your gardening.  When you want to have a successful garden you have to be sure that you can be consistent.

Being consistent with your garden will ensure that you are able to avoid big days of weeding.  When you are just weeding for an entire day it can be exhausting and it may take away from the joy that you receive while you are gardening.

Make sure that you take the time that you need to be sure that you are able to be wise about your gardening.  Gardening on a daily basis will ensure that your plants are going to be well fed and watered and the weeds in your garden will be kept at bay.

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A Grow Light Helps Give Plants An Early Start

One way to get a jump-start on a garden each year is to plant the seeds inside and use a grow light to help them germinate and grow. Seeds can be planted indoors as early as February or March. When they are given water, light and lots of tenderly loving attention, they can be ready to plant as soon as the last frost has passed somewhere around the middle of May. This early planting of seeds gives the garden more mature plants at an earlier time and allows the plants to produce an earlier and more bountiful harvest.

The first step is to set up a grow light that will give the seeds adequate light and warmth to germinate. A grow light system can be purchased from many garden supply stores or from garden stores online. It is also possible to create a functional grow light system from supplies that are purchased inexpensively from a local home improvement store. A standard shop light works very well. To create the right light and heat for germinating seeds, it is necessary to purchase two different types of fluorescent bulbs. One bulb must have a warm spectrum of light and the other bulb must have a cool spectrum of light. The last thing to purchase is some hooks and chains to hang the grow light above the newly planted seeds.

The next step is to purchase the best type of seeds to plant and grow indoors. Some of these seeds are beans, onions, pumpkins and peas. These types of seeds sprout without much trouble and are easily transplanted to the garden. Herbs are also great seeds to start indoors as they also transplant without much trouble. Some types of vegetables are a little more difficult to grow from seed. They also don’t survive the transplanting process as well. Vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers seem to be better when they are bought as an already established plant from a garden center. Once the seeds have been determined and purchase, it is now time to set up a planting system.

One way to start the seeds is to put potting soil in individual small pots and plant a few seeds in each pot. Peat pots are another simple method for planting the seeds. Peat pots start as small disks. When they are watered, they expand to tiny pots of soil held together by biodegradable netting. They come in a convenient tray that holds 24 to 48 peat pots. Planting three seeds in each pot guarantees that at least one of the seeds will germinate and grow into a healthy plant.

Next, the seeds should be given a thorough soaking with water and placed under the grow light. The light should be hung approximately eight to ten inches above the seeds to give them adequate light and warmth. The grow light can be set on a timer to give the seeds the same amount of sunlight that they would receive if they were growing outdoors. The pots must be checked every day. In order to germinate, the seeds need to be kept moist at all times. It is also important to not over water the seeds.

Now the waiting period begins. Many seeds take at least eight to ten days to germinate. Sometimes only one seed will appear and sometimes all three will germinate at once. If all three seeds germinate, it is important to clip off the extra seedlings with a pair of scissors. This allows the seedling to have adequate room to grow. Once the seeds have germinated, the seedlings will grow quickly into small plants. They may need to be transplanted to larger pots before it is time to transplant them into the garden. Once the warm spring weather arrives, the plants will be ready to transplant and grow to their full potential in the outdoors.

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Frustrating Spider Mites – They’re A Problem, So Let’s Solve It!

When you’re cultivating a garden, you must be on the lookout for the various pests which can cause trouble. While there is a seemingly endless supply of hazardous pests to look out for, some are much more prevalent than others.

One of the most common pests are spider mites. These tiny arachnids can infest most types of plants, including vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Among the vegetable plants they can ruin are corn, tomatoes, peppers, and more. They’re a major threat to any gardener who is planning on growing food in their garden.

They can be found on the underside of the leaves, eating the plant sap. The affected plant will lose energy, and brown spots and mottling will appear on the leaves. Fruits will display russeting. As the infestation grows, leaves become discolored, appearing bronze or yellow. Eventually, leaves can be scorched and major damage will be done, as the spider mites rapidly reproduce.

A significant population of mites will weave webs. These are nothing like normal spiderwebs, rather, they appear as gauze-like, thin blankets. This is one of the surest signs that an infestation is in full swing. These webs are used for various functions. Most species of spider mites prefer dry conditions, and their webbing wicks away water. Spider mites also lay numerous eggs, and the webs help secure them. The fact that their population can increase so quickly is another reason why they are so hazardous to plants. Without predators, spider mites will reproduce until the host plant is eventually killed off. Another purpose of the webs they weave is for transportation – they can move to new leaves and new host plants.

The fact that spider mites can travel is important to consider. If one plant is affected, then any plants within the vicinity are at risk. The damage can quickly spread in a garden setting. That’s why it’s best to remove any infested plants and treat them separately. If you remove all the plants that are infested, you can save a lot of trouble in maintaining the rest of your garden. Also, make sure to handle the infested plants separately, with different gloves, tools, and even different clothes. Anything you can do to prevent spreading spider mites is useful. If you have an indoor garden, make sure that it has no indirect contact with outside plants.

You must be thorough and consistent in treating spider mites. Even if you wipe out one generation, the small, round, sticky eggs are very difficult to get to. You must do follow-up treatments every few weeks or so to completely get rid of them. Otherwise, the resilient eggs will hatch and their numbers will rebound.

There are many different options for treating spider mite infestations without harming your plants. There are special sprays called miticides which are great tools to kill spider mites and keep a healthy garden. You can release natural predators that will consume mites and eggs. There are other methods, but whichever you choose, it’s important to treat thoroughly.

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How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Texas Garden

Texas gardeners are blessed with two seasons each year to harvest home-grown tomatoes. Texas squirrels are blessed with two seasons each year to take a great big bite out of home-grown tomatoes before Texas gardeners can harvest them.

Squirrels feast on pecans, fallen fruit, squash, cucumbers, and even watermelons and cantaloupes. Rummaging through your garden beds, they may dine on bulbs that are a lot fresher and tastier than the nuts they squirreled away the year before. They can take over feeders you leave out for birds and other wildlife, and they don’t reward you for your sacrifices by becoming good pets.

If you have not had a lot of interactions with squirrels, there is a fundamental fact of the relationship between the squirrel and the admiring, animal-loving outdoor Texas gardener: Squirrels bite. That furry friend from the trees above will take bite out of your finger when given a chance. And it might even dine on your smaller pet chickens and eat their eggs as if it thought it was a raccoon or a skunk.

If you want to win the battle for garden supremacy with Texas squirrels, you are going to need to plan ahead. Here are 10 tips to taking action to help squirrels find a better habitat than your garden in Texas.

1. Confuse the critters. Gray (although not red) squirrels have a keen memory for landmarks. If you want to direct squirrels out of your garden with a minimum of fuss, move any shiny objects to a different location in your yard or garden every three or four months.

2. Install squirrel baffles on lines and wires leading to your home or garden. When a squirrel shimmies across a line, it grasps the top of the line with its front paws and the bottom of the line with its back paws. Putting a roller on the line makes it impossible for the squirrel to proceed.

3. Call out the hounds. Although this strategy may not work if your hound is a chihuahua, allowing your dog to patrol your yard or garden once a day or so, especially in the middle of the day, may keep squirrels off your property.

4. Get rid of squirrels humanely with a Havahart Two-Door Squirrel Trap. Just be sure it is not more than 5-1/2 inches high, so if you happen to trap a skunk, it can’t raise its tail to spray you.

5. Keep squirrels out your attic with ultrasound. Electronic noise machines generate high-pitched sound at 56,000 Hz. This is too high for humans to hear but drives squirrels batty. It’s a lot more useful for keeping squirrels out than it is for getting squirrels out. Once a mother squirrel has made her nest in her attic so she can raise her 4 to 10 babies, you are not going to be able to get rid of her with nuisance devices.

6. Make sure branches are cut within 15 feet of your roof. A squirrel can jump that far from a tree limb to the roof of your house, and then gnaw its way inside.

7. Dig mesh wire around valuable garden beds to a depth of 15 inches, with at least a three inch margin above the ground. This will deter both squirrels and, if you live in the Panhandle or East Texas, also gophers.

8. Place mothballs in the corners of the attic, where mother squirrels like to build their nests. Fumes from the mothballs make squirrels woozy so they want to leave. Be forewarned that the fumes can have a similar effect on people.

9. Recycle kitty litter underneath bushes or thicket at the edges of your property. Since cats sometimes eat squirrels, they will steer away from the odor of used kitty litter.

10. Shut the garage door at night. Squirrels sometimes find their way under the hood of your car or truck. You’ll make an unwelcome squirrel tartar should the squirrel get caught in your radiator fan or alternator belt, and a single broken wire in your vehicle’s electrical harness can result in more than $1000 in auto repairs.

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How To Get Rid Of Termites

Termites are the biggest threat to homes; they destroy homes from the inside out. Termites hide so they are hard to find and when you do find them it’s too late. Paying an exterminator can cost you hundreds of dollars, however with the right upkeep you can prevent them! Here are some tips to detect and rid your home of termite infestations.

Check the Baseboards

Check around your home for termites. From the inside of your home you can notice a termite problem by detecting some “dust” or “powder” looking substance on the carpet around the baseboards in your home. It is common to see this in the basement areas of homes where daily living is less likely to occur.

Check the Exterior

Always look outside your home for termites. When you are mowing the lawn, look around for signs of rotting wood or rotting near the foundation or decking of your home. Power washing your deck is a good idea to help keep the pest under control. MTD parts have some great outdoor tools that you can use for this purpose. Plan on spraying your woof deck with the proper wood protecting formula and repellant to prevent termite problems

Prevention Time

The best way to stop termites is to prevent them. Make sure the home is dry: leaks, standing water, gutters and moist areas inside and outside the home must be handled accordingly. Keep wood off the property. Cut down limbs from tree and remove those and other piles of wood from the property. Look for signs of sagging floors, hollow foundations parts and holes in wood work. Tap the affected wood to check for hollowness. Push the screwdriver to see if wood gives easily and falls apart; it shouldn’t if you don’t have termites. Caulk and seal windows, cracks and doorways. Cover up gaps around pipes and electrical wiring. Add screens to doors, porches and windows to prevent termite infestation.

Laying the Bait

The signs that a termite is damaging the home are within the first five years. If termites are found there is a solution to handle it before it tears the foundation apart. Examine the area further for brown or tan substance–termite droppings. A better confirmation is to see the termites, but it’s not necessary. Use termite control products at your local home improvement store. Lay the bait near affected areas. Also spray termiticide on the same areas. If that fails try orange oil to kill off the termite infestation. Give it time for the oil to work before moving on to the last suggestion. When nothing else works the final solution is to hire an exterminator. Finding an exterminator is about finding one who is licensed, insured, qualified and worth the money spent.

Protecting your home from termite infestations can save you thousands of dollars! When it comes to pests like termites, your home can easily be vulnerable since they go for the wood, which makes up a large majority of the main structure of your home. Contact a certified exterminator to inspect your home and to prevent any termite infestations from occurring.

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Sizing Your Vegetable Plot

When we dream of vegetable gardens most of us envision row upon row of all varieties of vegetable plants with a few flowers and herbs thrown in for aesthetics. A mistake made by many gardeners, both inexperienced and old timers is to plant too much. When the garden is bigger than us the upkeep becomes overwhelming, weeds run wild, and the harvest it too successful to keep up with. If you want your plot to be rewarding and fun, keep it’s size in check with the realities of your time, energy and resources.

Unless you are out to feed the entire neighborhood, I strongly suggest you start your vegetable garden off small and keep it that way. You need to answer the questions, “why am I growing a veggie garden” and for “how many people”? For most of us we want to grow our own veggies for the fun and health benefits and a small plot will produce more harvest than you probably realize. If you plan to can, dry or freeze your crops and use winter storage you can plant a little more, but for garden to table eating a small space is all you need.

A veggie plot for the average household should require about 1 hour of upkeep each week. The beginning of the season, planting time and harvest time will be a bit busier. Make sure to choose a sunny accessible spot in your garden as vegetables for the most part are sun and heat lovers. If your soil is poor take the time at the beginning to enrich it with organic matter. Dig in compost or manure to a depth of 1 foot, and turn your soil over to bring air into it and also lighten it’s structure. Vegetables are heavy feeders and there is no point going through all the work of growing vegetables if you’re not aiming for success. Give your veggies adequate sunshine, nutrients and water and they will do the rest.

Depending on your climate, not all vegetables will be suited to grow in your garden. Best to research which ones agree with your area and plant them first. Once you’ve had success with those branch out to other more difficult crops. A simple row of each variety you choose to grow will be enough, you do not have to use up the whole package of seeds at one time. Use the method called succession planting. This simply means planting one or more repetitions of the same crop. So as not to have more of one crop that you can use at a time, try planting only half a row. A few weeks later plant the rest of the row. This method works very well for many vegetables, spacing their time of harvest to allow you to enjoy them throughout a longer season. Many vegetables can be planted in mid to late summer and still have time to mature for a fall harvest.

By only creating a garden the size you can properly handle, you are guaranteed greater success and enjoyment for your efforts. Once again, less is more!

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Using Vegetable Boxes For Canning

Vegetable boxes may be used to transport vegetables from the farmer to the store and then to home. The boxes also work great for holding the vegetables after they are canned or preserved. The canning process preserves and flavors vegetables, fruits and other foods. The vegetables can be canned in half-pint, full pint and quart jars. The jars are usually sold in boxes of a dozen or more. The boxes are separated by several cardboard dividers that protect the jars from breakage. The jars would shake around and bump into each other if the dividers were not in place.

The canning jars do not come with lids or seals. These need to be purchased separately. The lids may either be wide or normal. The wide mouth jars are best for pickling large vegetables. The vegetable boxes should be picked up at a local nursery during their growing season. The vegetable boxes are cheaper and in stock during their growing season. As a result, the canning process needs to be repeated during the same week each year. The jars are usually sealed with a screw type lid. However, the older wired shut lids are still popular with some people.

The jars need to be inspected before canning the vegetable boxes. The jars’ rims should not have any imperfections or they will not seal correctly. The canning method is determined by the type of vegetables to be canned. The best canning recipe for beginners is salsa. Salsa offers a lot of room for trial and error. Most canned salsas turn out good, but most still have room for improvement. People who can their own salsa tend to rework their recipe every year. Once a favorite recipe is found, the canning hobbyist may move onto chipotle or other flavored salsas. When making salsa, it is important to pick the ripest, juiciest tomatoes. One onion and jalapeno box should be purchased for every three tomato boxes. The vegetables should be inspected to insure they are ripe and delicious. The jalapenos may vary in heat, so several should be tested before beginning.

The tomatoes should be added to a hot water bash after they are rinsed clean. The hot water needs to be boiled before adding to the hot water bath. The scalding hot water will lift the skin off the tomato making it peel.

After the tomatoes have sat in the hot water bath for fifteen minutes, they may be ready to fully peel. If the hot water goes cold before the skin is peeling off the tomatoes, more should be boiled and added to the hot water bath. After the tomatoes are ready, the rest of the skin can be removed with glove covered hands. The tomatoes should be rinsed one last time before being placed to the side. After all the tomatoes are peeled, it is time to work with the onions and peppers. The onions should be peeled and diced into slightly larger pieces than what is desired in the salsa. The onions will cook down slightly during the canning process. The jalapenos only need to be rinsed and diced finely. Salsas with different heat can be prepared while canning. The jalapenos can be progressively added to the salsa as the canning process continues. As a result, each jar of salsa will be hotter than the last. The tomatoes should be diced last and added to a large cooking pot with the rest of the ingredients. Several different spices are added to give the salsa a zesty kick before the mixture is poured into the jars. The jars are cooked in a hot water bath on the stove for a certain amount of time before they are finished.