Category Archives: Gardening

Healthy hands are the Gardener’s Best Tools

Here are the major reasons why one should consider getting a pair of trusty gardening gloves:

Gloves protect your hands from blisters, thorns and cuts while doing rough work like digging or pruning in the garden. Investing in one or more pairs of quality gloves is a good decision.

Here are some tips on how to choose the pair that will suit you best:
1. Look for quality leather gloves with a cloth back; this will let the gloves breathe and keep your hands dry, cool and comfortable.

2. If mud bothers you, select rubber gloves with cotton lining.

3. When spraying pesticides or chemicals choose gloves that are made from neoprene. Gloves made from latex or any type of plastic may not offer the best protection.

4. When pruning roses, use gloves that reach up to the arms.

5. If you usually operate large garden machinery, buy gloves in brown instead of red as the latter may dye your hands.

6. Light cotton or even fingerless gloves may be useful for transplanting seedlings. They will allow more dexterity and so help to prevent the tiny roots from being crushed.

7. And of course, make sure that the gloves you buy actually fit your hands. If you have small hands, try the children’s gardening section. there’s nothing worse than trying to garden is gloves that are too big.

Your gloves must be comfortable as well as give protection to best serve your gardening needs.

Safe Pest Control Tips

Pest control must be done with utmost consideration to safety; safety in terms of the plants, animals and humans. This holds especially true for those with vegetable and organic gardens.

The main purpose of growing vegetables organically will be defeated if they become tainted with pest control chemicals.

Here are a few long-term maintenance tips to make pest control less damaging and more environmentally friendly.

1. Use the physical pest control process.

This may be accomplished through picking grubs off by hand, creating barriers and traps and plugging holes. Snails can be found hiding in damp places under rocks and towrds the base of those plants with straplike foliage.

2. Apply biological pest control.

Encourage predatory insects such as green lacewings and dragonflies to feed on aphids and other pests that attack your plants. You can do this by placing a shallow bowl of water in the garden. Dragonflies especially will hover around water. Bacterial insecticides such as B. thuringiensis could also be used against caterpillars.

3. Only as a last resort should we turn to chemical pest control.

Organic pest control methods can be successful and the ingredients for many of the recipes can be found in the kitchen cupboards. If chemical sprays are really necessary, try and find the least-toxic. These include insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, dehydrating dusts, etc.

4. Consider the use of safer pest control substitutes.

Recipes for alternative pest control include the following:

Against Green Aphids and Mites – Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and a cup of vegetable oil. Dilute a teaspoon of this solution in a cup of water and spray on aphids and mites.

Against Cockroaches – Dusts of boric acid can be applied to cracks or entry points of these insects. Bay leaves on pantry shelves could also help in warding off these critters.

Make sure that the chemicals you use are made specifically for the insects you are targeting.

Choosing the Best Plants for your Garden

Many times we buy plants on impulse then find there is nowhere in the garden that really suits them. Before buying plants carefully examine your garden to see how much sun and shade it gets, whether the soil is well drained or waterlogged and whether your aspect is sheltered or windswept. You’ll then be equipped to go and buy the best plants for your situation; shade-loving plants for the sheltered areas, sun-lovers for the warm spots, drought-resistant plants for the parched areas which may be either sunny or shaded, and swamp plants for the poorly-drained parts.

But wait! Test your soil first, to determine the pH level of your soil and what kind of nutrients you need to add, if any. Is the soil acid or alkaline? Most plants prefer soil that is slightly acidic, but there are some that must have alkaline soil to grow. You can alter the soil’s pH level, but it’s much easier to simply plant for the soil you have.

Now you are ready to plant. Well – almost. Will you plant in groups or singly? If you buy ‘one of everything’ your garden may seem rather spotty. Group plantings are organised, harmonious and you can vary the color for interest.

Before planting out, place your chosen plants around the garden bed in their pots to see how they will look. Re-arrange them until you are satisfied. Grouping plants in sets of threes or fives usually looks better than planting in groups of even numbers. Be sure that you have an interesting combination of colors and textures of plants. Tall plants should go to the back, or the centre if your garden will be viewed equally from all sides. Try to keep your plants away from trees. The roots of trees are fiercely competitive and will steal all the nutrients and moisture meant for your flowers.

The right color scheme is one way to maintain the harmony in your garden. Imagine the color of the flowers when they are in bloom. Some colors may clash with others, but can still be planted side-by-side if they have a different blooming season. Foliage color is also important. Many flower plants have silver, grey or purplish foliage that is just as attractive as the flower. This means that they are still attractive well past the blooming season and so have added value.

Modern Gardening Equipment

The types and quality of equipment you use to take care of your plants not only have an effect on your plants’ health, but your own as well.

Defective tools could cause damage to your plants, but it is worse if they are so uncomfortable to use that they give you blisters or a bad back. To avoid this, look for the gardening equipment that will do the best job for your type of gardening. It must have the right amount of power to be energy efficient while also being able to do the job without causing you any more strain than necessary.

Here is a review of gardening equipment from the gardening experts themselves.

1. Garden Shredders

JCB SS2400 received five stars out of five from the gardening equipment reviewers from recommendedbuys.co.uk. It has a 2400 watt motor and comes with a silent gear crushing system. It is one promising tool to improve and hasten your shredding activity.

Ryobi ESR – 2240 Electric Shredder is an easy to assemble garden shredder suitable for prunings up to 40mm. It comes with built-in wheels and a plunger for increased portability.

2. Hedge Trimmer

Bosch AHS42-16 Electric Hedge Trimmer also received five stars out of five rating from the gardening equipment reviewers from recommendedbuys.co.uk. It has 420 watt output.

3. Cultivators

Mantis Tiller Cultivator comes with patented tines to aid in cutting smoothly through hard, compacted soil. It is perfect for preparing vegetable plots, flower beds, etc. It also helps in thatching, aerating and cleaning moss. It also comes with a free border edger.

4. Lawnmowers

Brill 78370 Luxus Push Reel Mower rated 4.5 out of 5 stars Tools-hills.com customers. It has a large top cover that protects shrubs and overhanging flowers.

American Lawnmower Deluxe Light Reel Mower 1815-16 received 4.5 stars out of 5 from Epinions.com buyers. A push-mower, it does not cause pollution, but is not suitable for tall grass.

5. Leaf Sweeper

Agri-fab 26 Push Leaf Sweeper is for smaller lawns and is available with 200 litre collector. It also comes with an infinite height adjustment feature.

In Search of the Best Gardening Tools

Different kinds of gardens require different kinds of garden tools. Hardware stores mostly cater for a wide range of tools, but there are shops that specialize in the more expensive kind of garden tool that shouts quality. Wherever you decide to shop, here are a few pointers to advise you.

Do you have small garden or a large one? A small garden will not require the same large equipment that would be of use in an extensive one. A ride-on mower is unnecessary if you only have a small strip of lawn. Another point to consider is who does most of the gardening? Some tools are too heavy for use by women.

When you buy secateurs make sure the blade always stays sharp to avoid damaging the plant. Look for models that have blades that can be sharpened or replaced, models with tension control and with sizes that best fit your hands. Secateurs usually cost around $50 – $130.

Hedge trimmers or shears are handy – but only if you have a hedge, or plan on growing one. Some hedge trimmers have curved blades to stop branches from sliding out when cut.

Forks are used for turning and aerating compost and breaking up lumps of soil. The cheaper ones are often not strong enough for heavy soil, so go for sturdiness instead of price. Forks usually cost around $30 – $100.

A shovel has a scoop blade and is best used to move around dirt and garden soil. A spade has a flat blade great for cutting edges, digging and dividing plants. The edge of a spade should be kept sharpened for clean and efficient cutting will cause the least amount of damage to plants. These are a basic garden necessity and usually cost from $30 – $50.

A pruning saw is used for pruning trees and larger shrubs, while secateurs are for plants like roses. Pruning saws have a narrow curved blade that fits between stems or branches and easily and cuts them as you pull the saw backwards. They are approximately $27- $55.

A chipping hoe is a handy tool for getting rid of small weeds. The Dutch or push-hoe is slightly more user-friendly as the action required to use it does not jar the neck and shoulder quite so much.

A rake is also a basic requirement for the garden. The strong rake with the flat head and sharp metal prongs is used for smoothing a garden bed and getting out the last of the bumps and weeds. The plastic rake is used to gather leaves and grass clippings only.

Gardening tools don’t have to be expensive. Flea markets and garage sales can be excellent places to pick up great tool bargain.

Dealing with Rose Diseases

To make sure that your prized roses remain in the best of health, simply follow these tips.

1. Black Spots on Leaves

This disease is commonly known as black spot. Black spots appear as circular with fringed edges on leaves. They cause the leaves to yellow. Remove the infected foliage and pick up any fallen leaves around the rose. Artificial sprays may be used to prevent or treat this kind of rose disease.

2. Stunted or malformed young canes

Known as powdery mildew, this is a fungal disease that covers leaves, stems and buds with wind spread white powder. It makes the leaves curl and turn purple. Spray with Funginex or Benomyl to treat this fungal disease.

3. Blistered underside of leaves

Known as rust, this disease is characterized by orange-red blisters that turn black in fall. It can survive the winter and will then attack new sprouts in the spring. Collect and discard leaves that are infected in fall. a Benomyl or Funginex spray every 7-10 days may help.

4. Malformed or stunted leaves and flowers

This is caused by spider mites. They are tiny yellow, red or green spiders found on the underside of leaves where they suck juices. The application of Orthene or Isotox may help in treating this infestation.

5. Weak and mottled leaves with tiny white webs under them

This is caused by aphids. They are small soft-bodied insects that usually brown, green or red. Often clustered under leaves and flower buds, they suck plant juices from tender buds. Malathion or diazinon spray may help roses to survive these bugs.

6. Flowers that don’t open or are deformed when they open.

Thrips could be the reason behind this problem. They are slender, brown-yellow bugs with fringed wings that also suck juices from flower buds. Cut and discard the infested flowers. Orthene and malathion may also treat this problem.

Remember that roses are hungry feeders that require much fertilizer to become healthy bushes.