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Nothing Says Welcome Home Like An Entry Garden

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Nothing Says Welcome Like an Entry Garden

 

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Now is the time to start planning your entry garden. This welcoming patch has the power to set a warm and friendly tone for those who pass through your garden on the way to your front door. It does take some planning to set the proper mood, however, and you need to consider architecture, setting, scale, boundaries and maintenance.

Architecture and Setting

First, it is critical that your garden style suits your architecture and setting to create a cohesive, uniform look. Try to match the hardscaping and plants to the style and feel of your house. A cottage or farmhouse would be accentuated by a friendly, loose informal garden with plants spilling onto the walkway and colors blending together at the edges of beds. A more formal and symmetrical building, however, should be paired with a more structured garden that includes well-groomed shrubbery, stately flowers and a well-defined path.

Plant Scale

Pay attention to the scale of the plants you choose. Plants that will grow too tall or broad can overwhelm the house or crowd the walkway. Plants that are too small can make the house feel too large and unwelcoming. Investigate the mature sizes of plants and be sure they are positioned appropriately within your entry garden so they will not crowd one another or block key features of your home, such as house numbers or security lighting.

Garden Boundaries

Consider setting boundaries for the garden using a fence, wall, hedge or gate. The boundary could encompass just the area around the front door, might include a flowerbed border or could frame the whole yard, but keep in mind the size and style of your home. A white picket fence around the entire yard is a quaint option for a cottage-esque home, but would look out of place with an elegant brick manor, which would be more suited to a wrought iron boundary or classic boxwood hedges.

Maintaining Your Entry Garden

Be realistic about the amount of time you have to maintain your entry garden. If you have limited time, choose native or easy to care for plants that will require little attention. Also consider using containers for some of the plants. They can be easily rearranged throughout the seasons to give a different look to the garden, and plants can be brought in over the winter months. Keep in mind essential tasks such as weeding, pruning and watering, and plan the garden to suit your abilities, time and budget so you can always keep it in perfect condition to welcome visitors.

With a little planning, you can create a welcoming entry garden to beautifully greet guests as they visit your home.

Mother’s Day Is Here!

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Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world to honor our Mothers, although the dates and months of Mother’s Day differ from country to country. Mother’s day is the occasion to pay rich tributes to the person who have had a great impact on our lives, a person whose love and care knows no boundaries, a person who does everything to keep her children happy and joyous.

Flowers are always a special gift to mothers around the world on Mother’s Day although no gift in the world even equals the services rendered by a mother to her child. Indeed no other gift serves better as the flowers do on the Mother’s Day to convey special thanks for all her love care for us.

Mother’s Day History

The earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600’s, England celebrated a day called Mothering Sunday. Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), Mothering Sunday honored the mothers of England.

In the United States Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Mass ever year.

In 1907 Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother’s Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia. Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother’s Day. It was successful as by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.

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Jarvis is again the first person to consider flowers on Mother’s Day for gifting mothers. She sent 500 white carnations to the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, in Grafton, West Virginia with the hope of distributing the mothers. Then onwards, the tradition of sending flowers on Mother’s Day, took root.

The most common flowers for sending mother on the Mothers Day are carnations, especially white carnations. A bouquet of mature blooming roses also serve the great cause of thanking the mother for all her love and care. Flower arrangements made of spring flowers like tulips, scented narcissi and daffodils are also the favorites for sending on Mother’s Day.

If you are at a distance from your mother, you can send Mother’s Day flowers online. Still, it is appropriate to choose flowers from the online florists based on the meaning of the flowers being gifted and the personal likes and dislikes of our mother in terms of color and fragrance of flowers.

21 Spring Flowers for Your Garden

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21 Spring Flowers for Your Garden

 

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Early spring flowers are the surest sign that warmer weather is coming. Our list of early spring flowers will give you ideas for the best flowers to plant in spring. After a long winter, it’s time for spring landscaping!

  • Pansy

Cool weather is just what pansy prefers. It’s an annual that gardeners flock to because it’s one of the best flowers to plant in spring for early-season containers and window boxes, relishing the variety in petal color as much as the cheery uplifted blooms.

Name: Viola x wittrockiana

Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide

Zones: 4-8

 

  • Yellow Trillium

    Yellow trillium is a true spring plant: Once its flowers die back at the season’s end in June, the foliage recedes, too. Even so, its marbled leaves and delicate yellow-white blooms are a welcome sight in April.

    Spring flower tip: In a woodland garden, pair it with other shade-lovers.

    Name: Trillium luteum

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 5-8

  • Hellebore

    Also known as a Lenten rose or Christmas rose, hellebores produce spring flowers of delicate beauty and surprising resilience. In warmer climates, it may even tolerate light frosts, making it one of the best flowers to plant in spring. For unusual flowers, ask at your nursery about double-bloom varieties.

    Name: Helleborus niger

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • Bloodroot

    This herbaceous spring perennial flower makes its appearance in March, shooting up white flowers that last until late spring. It’s one of the best flowers to plant in spring and a good fit for either a shaded or woodland garden.

    Name: Sanguinaria canadensis

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Snowdrop Anemone

    Fragrant and festive, the bright clusters of snowdrop anemone work well even in a spring garden that’s slightly shaded. Bonus: Once the cooler temperatures of fall arrive, the plant may put on a second bloom show in the garden.

    Name: Anemone nemorosa

    Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • Redbud

    Flowers get lots of press, but plenty of trees offer springtime feasts for the eyes. One of them is the eastern redbud, a tree that puts on a riotous display of pink beginning in March.

    Name: Cercis canadensis

    Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 30 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • Lilac

    There’s no sweeter spring fragrance than the blooms of this cottage-garden favorite. Lilac varieties, one of the best flowers to plant in spring, come in all shapes and sizes, from dwarf shrubs to taller trees.

    Spring flower tip: The lilac blooms on old wood, so hold off on pruning until right after the same year’s flowering is finished.

    Name: Syringa vulgaris

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 20 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • ‘Acoma’ Iris

    Pick your favorite color, and there’s likely an iris to fill your spring garden need. Most put on their bloom show toward the end of spring, but the plants’ tall growth and delectable petal variations make them pretty additions to a variety of garden styles.

    Name: Iris ‘Acoma’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 34 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Grape Hyacinth

    As much as any other spring bulbs, hyacinths trumpet the arrival of spring. Clustered flowers hang lusciously from sturdy stalks, resembling bundles of grapes; they are one of the most beautiful and best flowers to plant in spring.

    Name: Muscari armeniacum

    Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • ‘Harmony’ Iris

    As much a late-winter plant as it is an early-spring bloomer, dwarf wild iris pops with deep, wild purple or blue — a welcome contrast to many of spring’s pastel flowers. Cut a clutch of the iris to put in a vase and take the pleasing fragrance of this early spring flower inside.

    Name: Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 5-8

  • ‘Grand Maitre’ Crocus

    Crocuses are one of the best flowers to plant in spring, announcing the departure of winter with lovely pink, purple, yellow, or white petals. Planted from corms, crocuses also range in size from delicate blooms to more showy versions.

    Name: Crocus ‘Grand Maitre’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 3-8

  • Daffodil

    If it’s spring, it’s time for a show of daffodils. The bright, jovial spring flower has a range of shapes and sizes, from trumpet to small- and large-cupped to double. Deer find them less palatable than other spring plants, but the foliage should be left to die back on its own to rejuvenate the plants for the following year.

    Name: Narcissus selections

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Tulip

    With innate cheerfulness and beauty, a  tulip, one of the best flowers to plant in spring, lends itself to a variety of garden settings — from formal border gardens to naturalistic, casual settings. And there’s a tulip for every gardener, from diminutive 4-inch-tall specimens to extravagant multifoot-high blooms.

    Name: Tulipa selections

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Zones: 3-7

  • Winter Aconite

    If the snow has melted, you can be sure that winter aconite is ready to burst forth from the spring garden. Its growth time is limited — the plant dies back once spring transitions to summer — but its pretty, open blooms make it a showpiece in a woodland garden.

    Name: Eranthis cilicica

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

  • Puschkinia

    Inside the blooms of snowdrift is an exquisite surprise: striped flowers that offer surprising color variation. Tall foliage stalks make these a good companion to lower spring growers such as crocus and one of the best flowers to plant in spring.

    Name: Puschkinia scilloides

    Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • ‘Miniature Snowflake’ Mock Orange

    The delicate blooms of sweet mock orange belie its easy-growing nature. After planting it, you hardly have to do a thing to this compact shrub! In addition to pretty white flowers, the plant supplies an intoxicating fragrance.

    Name: Philadelphus ‘Miniature Snowflake’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 3-7

  • Bluestar

    The rewards of Arkansas bluestar bridge the gap between spring and fall: The plant puts on a restrained color show in spring with star-shape, light blue flowers. Then in the fall, the foliage takes a turn for the brilliant, transforming into a golden-yellow display.

    Name: Amsonia hubrictii

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • Summer Snowflake

    A drooping bell shape distinguishes the diminutive blooms on summer snowflake, making it both delicate and one of the best flowers to plant in spring. In a flowerbed, group several of the plants to create a focal point.

    Name: Leucojum aestivum

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Zones: 4-9

  • Oakleaf Hydrangea

    Big flowers and oversize foliage ensure the oakleaf hydrangea has a unique presence in the garden. For flower lovers, the late-spring-blooming shrub offers reliable, vigorous growth, but the plant also supplies visual interest throughout the growing season.

    Name: Hydrangea quercifolia

    Growing conditions: Part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • ‘Pink Discovery’ Azalea

    Its bright color burst is short-lived, but ‘Pink Discovery’ azalea’s solid mass of flamboyant flowers provides a just-right transition from spring to summer bloomers. Pair the shrubs with hellebores, as in this sidewalk border, for an early-season showstopper.

    Name: Rhododendron yedoense var. poukhanensis ‘Pink Discovery’

    Growing conditions: Part shade and moist but well-drained acidic soil

    Size: To 10 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

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    Double Rock Rose

    Double Rock Rose

    Rock rose makes spring-flower lovers wait until late in the season for blooms, but that extra dose of patience is worth it. Double varieties such as this one are one of the best flowers to plant in spring, with a profusion of petals on low-growing shrubs in both spring and early summer.

    Name: Helianthemum ‘Annabel’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide

    Zones: 6-8

  • These annual flowers don’t mind cool temperatures and are perfect for early-spring gardens.

 

Gutter and Rain Water Collecting Can Help Save You Money

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Collecting rain water isn’t hard, but there are a few things you will need to do before you begin. You actually want to start by checking your gutters and your roof.

If your gutters have been painted with lead based paint or have lead solder in them then it’s a good idea to have them replaced before you try to build a rain water collection system. This is especially true if you think you’re going to try to purify your rain water for drinking.

You should also look at your roof. Treated cedar shake, tar, gravel, and asbestos roofing material can all contaminate the rainwater beyond any ability to use.

Next, you’re going to want to make sure your downspouts are long enough. Each downspout will need to reach into each of your rain barrels. You may need an extender. The gutters may also have to be adjusted in other ways to handle the system.

Next, choose your rain barrel. Larger rain barrels will mean a system that requires less of your time, since you’ll have to transfer collected rain water to other barrels if your barrel gets too full.

Some people choose to create and customize their own barrels, but there are plenty available at the store. These will already have spouts attached so you can get at the water from the other side. Some can hold incredibly impressive amounts of water!

You need to make sure that you’ve placed your rain barrel on level ground. Otherwise the barrel may pull at your downspouts as it fills and becomes unbalanced. This could damage your entire gutter system, so this step is important.

If you can’t find level ground you may have to create it. This can mean using gravel or cinder blocks to make sure the barrel is sitting flat when it goes to work.

Next, you’ll need to install a filter. If you’re going to use your rain water for watering the lawn, watering your garden, filling your toilet or washing your car you’ll need only a simple filter to keep debris out of your rain barrel.

If you plan on drinking your water then you’ll need a filter with a little more kick. This means a chemical filter or a reverse osmosis filter. You’ll also need to purchase a water testing kit to be absolutely sure the water is safe to drink.

Most people don’t drink their rain water. They simply reserve it for other uses.

 

The Best Vegetables to Plant in Early Spring

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The Best Vegetables to Plant in Early Spring

Start Them Early, but Enjoy Them for Weeks

The first vine-ripened tomato may still be a few months away, but there’s plenty to keep you busy in the vegetable garden. Take advantage of the cool, wet weather of spring to put in multiple crops of peas and lettuce. It’s also a great time to get your perennial vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb, started.

 

    • Rows of growing Asparagus

      Photo: © Marie Iannotti

      There are many perennial vegetables – vegetables you can plant once and harvest for many years to come – but we only seem to grow a handful of them in our gardens. It’s true you have to devote space to them, sometimes for decades, but it’s worth it. Asparagus plants get more productive every year, and a mature harvest can last for months. Looking forward to the first tender, pencil-sized spears of asparagus poking through in the garden is a rite of spring. If you thought you didn’t likeMORE asparagus, you haven’t tried it freshly picked.

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      Rows of growing lettuce

      Carol Sharp Corbis/ Documentary/ Getty Images

      The cool, wet weather of Spring is the perfect time to grow lettuce, and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Lettuce may take a little protection to get it going in the early spring, but, oh, it never tastes better than when it’s grown in the crisp spring air. You will get the earliest and longest harvest from the cut-and-come-again varieties. Lettuce may require a little frost protection in spring, but it won’t bolt, and you will probably have time for 2-3 succession plantings.

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      A vast pile of snow peas

      Emmanuelle Grimaud / Getty Images

      There’s a tradition of planting the first peas on St. Patrick’s Day. Many of us don’t always get to take part in that tradition because of the snow covering our vegetable gardens. However, even in years when you can manage to get out there early, the peas planted later in April will quickly catch up to the peas planted in March. Peas don’t like freezing temperature, but they dislike heat worse. So don’t miss the window of opportunity. Get out there and plant a crop of your favorites, whetherMORE its shelling peas, snow peas or sugar snap peas.

      A closeup of growing rhubarb

      Photo: © Marie Iannotti

      Rhubarb is a vegetable we prepare like a fruit, and it is the first sweet “fruit” of the season. Rhubarb is another perennial gem of the vegetable garden. It really is a shame rhubarb is so underused in cooking, because it’s very easy to grow. Once you get your bed established, you can look forward to a rhubarb harvest every spring. One word of warning: the rhubarb crown quickly turns into a very dense brick that is hard to divide. If you need to move your rhubarb or want to divide theMORE plant, do it while the plant is young before it has time to develop strong roots.

  • A vast pile of spinach

    Tracy Packer Photography / Getty Images

    Spinach must be grown in cool weather, or it will quickly bolt to seed. There are varieties that claim to be bolt-resistant, but sooner or later, (usually sooner), they all go to seed. Luckily it also grows extremely quickly – which means you don’t have to wait long to enjoy it, but you’ll also have to keep planting new spinach, to extend the harvest. Getting spinach to grow is easy. Keeping your spinach growing takes some extra care, but it’s worth it. Fresh spinach is crisper, tangier andMORE more tender than any you’ll find in a cellophane bag. And it can grow in the shade of crops that will be taking off just as your spinach fades.

Dealing With Winter Damage

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Dealing With Winter Damage

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It’s early spring – time to survey the damage that winter has produced. In some areas, shrubs may still be hiding under piles of frozen snow, and could be crushed or compacted. Severed tree limbs may lie scattered across the landscape, and bark may be torn and stripped from trunks. It’s difficult to know what to tackle first, but fortunately, much of the damage is easily correctible.

Repairing Winter-Damaged Trees

When surveying and repairing winter damage, start with your trees – they are generally the most valuable additions to your property. As you survey the damage – broken limbs, torn bark, a tilting trunk – ask yourself “Is this tree salvageable or should it be removed?” If the damage is extensive, or you are unsure about how the damage may affect the tree’s overall health or future growth, hire a professional for a consultation. Replacing a severely damaged tree with a younger one, perhaps a type you like even better, may be the best solution.

If a limb is broken somewhere along its length, or damaged beyond repair, employ good pruning practices and saw off the remaining piece at the branch collar, being careful not to cut into the trunk or leave a stub. Sometimes a fallen limb may strip bark off the tree trunk. To repair this damage, cut the ragged edges of the loose bark away from the stripped area to firmly affixed healthy bark. Nature will take care of the rest. Even if the trunk of the tree is split, the tree may still be saved. For large trees, repairing this type of damage usually requires cabling and bracing done by a professional. If the tree is still young, the crotch may be pulled tightly together and tied or taped until the wound eventually heals.

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Repairing Winter-Damaged Shrubs

Shrubs can suffer the same damage as trees, including broken limbs and stripped bark. Heavy snowfall can crush smaller shrubs, and larger varieties may have their trunks or centers split from heavy snow or ice accumulation. Most shrubs are resilient, however, and slowly regain their shape as the weather warms. If branches are bent but not broken, you may tie them together to help them along and prevent further damage from late-season storms. Do not tie tightly and remove twine after about a year. Completely broken branches may be pruned away, but take care to maintain the shrub’s form and balance, keeping in mind its growth pattern so it will not look lopsided or ungainly. Again, if the damage is severe, you may need to replace the plant.

The harder the winter is, the more of a beating trees and shrubs will take. With prompt attention in early spring, however, you can easily undo much of the damage and help your landscape recover with ease.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Yard and Garden

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Yard and Garden

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The snow and ice have melted, but this winter’s wild storms have left yards across the country in need of a major spring-cleaning. Here are some ideas for how to begin, inspired by the hyper-organized folks at Uncluttered:

  1. Remove the debris. If the winter’s seemingly incessant wind, rain, and snow have done a number on your trees, start your clean-up efforts by collecting the fallen branches and scattered sticks. If your town doesn’t pick up lawn debris on a regular basis, find out if any spring collection days have been planned or if there’s a nearby drop-off location you can deliver it to. You also can rent a wood-chipper from many garden or hardware stores and turn your debris into mulch.
  2. Rake dead leaves and twigs. Last year’s leaves will make great compost, but not if they keep the grass from absorbing sunlight. Thoroughly rake the yard and garden beds and, if you don’t plan to compost, investigate whether your town will be making special arrangements to collect bagged leaves.
  3. Prune and trim. Prune back weatherworn bushes and hedges as well as any perennials that look overgrown. Trim damaged tree limbs and branches that you can reach, and make arrangements for a professional tree-trimmer to take care of the rest.
  4. Map out landscaping and garden plans. If you’re going to make any changes to your current landscaping, make a sketch of your lawn indicating what sort of trees, shrubs, or plants you’d like to add. Even for DIY types, it’s always a good idea to consult with a gardener or landscaper at the nursery before making any final decisions or purchases.
  5. Start planting. Check the planting dates on your new purchases. Any plants, trees or shrubbery hearty enough to survive early spring’s still-cool nights can be put in the ground now.

Source: Unclutterer.com

MID-WINTER CHORES AND OTHER FEBRUARY GARDENING TIPS

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It’s hard to be inspired about gardening when the ground is frozen and wintry winds howl outside your window. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get into gardening this month.

While February is still too early to start most seeds indoors, it’s the right time to prepare for seeding by purchasing seed flats, containers, and peat pellets, as well as check your cold frame for needed repairs. It’s also a good time to finish up your seed order, if you haven’t done so already.

If you want to grow your own celery, leek, or onion transplants, February is the time to start them because these slow growers need several months before they are ready to set out. This also is the time to start small-seeded flowers such as begonias and petunias

If you potted bulbs for forcing last fall, check their progress. Soil should be barely moist. If tips have sprouted and have a few inches of growth, bring the pot into a cool, bright room (50 to 60 degrees F). Gradually expose the plant to increasing warmth and indirect sunlight. Increase waterings. Feed once a week with half-strength houseplant fertilizer.
To help the stems grow straight, turn the pot every day. When buds and foliage are fully developed, bring into full sunlight, and enjoy!

If you didn’t force any bulbs, you can still brighten up your home by forcing branches of spring-flowering trees such as forsythia, dogwood, and crabapple. It’s simple. Just cut the branches, place them in a bucket of warm water, and recut the stems to enhance water absorption. Then sit back and let nature take over. In a few days the branches should produce flowers.

Outdoors, check your perennial plants. An “open winter,” like this one demonstrates the need for protective mulch on strawberries and many perennial flowers as well as garlic, over-wintered spinach, and other crops that can easily be damaged by alternate warming and freezing of the soil. Although it is too late to undo any damage that’s done, mulching now can prevent additional damage caused by spring fluctuations in soil temperatures.

You also should take a walk around the garden to check for ice and snow damage to shrubs, evergreens, and trees. Look for damage by rabbits and rodents, too. Install hardware cloth around stems to protect against further damage.

February is a great time to think about the birds. In addition to keeping the feeders full, you can attract them to your yard and garden next spring by building a birdhouse now.

There are a few things to keep in mind. First, the size of the entrance must be proportionate to the type of bird you want to attract. You also will need to provide a rough surface both inside and outside the entrance to facilitate access.

In addition, ventilation holes are important. When you put up your birdhouse this spring, be sure to place it at least six feet off the ground to keep cats, raccoons, and other predators away. A protective collar hung just below the birdhouse also deters unwelcome visitors.

Plans for building birdhouses are available in many gardening books. Or browse the Internet, which is also a source of good information on a number of gardening topics.

Herbal Delights

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Herbal Delights

 

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No matter how cold the temperatures or how deep the snow, you can enjoy the pleasures of herbs this winter season by growing them in your windowsill. Herbs are great for adding zest to any food and are a delicious substitute for salt and artificial flavors. They can also make dinner a visual delight! Add herbs to breads, soups and stews for flavor or use as a lovely garnish. Here are some great selections to try…

Rosemary is a must for the cook. Fresh rosemary is much richer and more fragrant than dried sprigs. Its needle-like foliage has a piney or resinous aroma and flavor. Rosemary is good with any meat or poultry, with stronger tasting fish, and with pizza, breads and potatoes. It is companionable with garlic and citrus flavors. A pleasing apple jelly can be scented with rosemary for a gourmet touch.

Chives, being a member of the onion family, is one of the few flavoring plants that appreciates some fertilizer. The hollow spears should be cut as needed by clipping a few spears just above the ground. It is used mostly as a garnish or final ingredient wherever a light onion taste is wanted, and it won’t overpower your recipes.

Mints are a necessity for herb windowsill gardens. No one would want to be without spearmint and peppermint, and maybe orange mint, for fresh teas and additions to fruit cups and ice cream. Fragrant and luscious, mints also make delightful garnishes for drinks or can be frozen into ice cubes.

Sage is a standby for poultry, breads and stuffing and combines well with corn or apples. Fried leaves are good to nibble. Experiment with different types of sage to enjoy their subtle variations and different flavors.

Thyme, a huge family of small upright, mounding or creeping plants, comes in a variety of flavors. You will find varieties labeled French, English, Common and Lemon, with leaves that may be all green or silver-edged or even variegated with gold. Every herb garden should have some thyme, and it pairs will with lamb as well as in marinades and salads.

Oregano is the hardier cousin of marjoram. It is a familiar flavoring in Italian and Greek cooking, in meats, sauces and of course in pizza. Oregano can be added to salads, used in marinades or mixed in with breads for rich flavor without any butter needed.

When growing your herbs, be mindful of their sunlight needs and keep them away from heating vents that can dry the soil out too quickly. Use organic fertilizers like fish emulsion and seaweed sparingly. Although fertilizers make the plants beautiful to look at, the less fertilizer used on an herb, the better it will taste. Now is a great time to start growing or to add to your culinary herb collection. Winter is the perfect time to start adding zest and flavor to your cooking!

Why use wood pellets?

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Wood Pellets: the Basics

Wood pellets are a heating fuel typically made from the compacted sawdust and industrial waste from the milling of lumber as well as the manufacture of wood products like wood furniture and flooring.

They are extremely efficient, easy to use, renewable, and 100% natural. The average homeowner will save $682 each year by heating with wood pellets instead of heating oil, reduce carbon emissions by 4.8 tons, and support the domestic economy and local jobs!

What’s So Green About Wood Pellets, Anyway?

When you burn a ton of wood pellets, you’re saving the same amount of fossil fuels as if you replaced your car with a hybrid… for a whole year!

Pellets are carbon neutral, because they are made with sustainably harvested wood, and they emit less carbon than a decomposing tree. And because pellet stoves are so efficient, you’re getting more heat for less money out of fewer resources… and that’s pretty green!

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Making the Investment

Switching to wood pellet heat is easier than you think!

Some states have grants to help with the upfront costs. Installation is a snap. And we can help you find a pellet stove from a local stove dealer that will fit your home, your budget, and your expectations!

Storing, Burning, Maintaining

Most homeowners use about three tons of pellets a year to heat their homes.

You can stash pellets just about anywhere – your garage, shed, or basement are great places to keep your pellets sheltered and dry. Once you start burning, we recommend weekly cleanings to keep your stove running smoothly, and a visit once a year from a friendly professional to perform a tune-up, inspection, and a full-service cleaning.