Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Vertical Gardening Ideas 2015

Nowadays there are so many options for creating a vertical garden. We’ve seen everything from a simple ladder with planks to a custom-built wall corner installed in the yard. Vertical Garden Towers are great when you don’t have a lot of space. Just like cities, go tall with your plants and veggies. Today we’ll be exploring some of the newer and more unusual solutions that exist for vertical gardening.

Tower Garden™, the aeroponic vertical gardening system, is a neat way to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs. Working with water, air and specially formulated nutrients, the Tower Garden is perfect for sunny rooftops, patios and balconies. You can probably put this on casters for rotating and easier relocation.

The PVC Pipe idea is really fun. Backyard Gardening Fun has a great tutorial that shows how to create and install a strawberry tower that will yield a whole lot more than one plant in the ground.

The Vertical Sunset Garden Tower, which we recently discovered, is another interesting idea. With a more architectural look, this includes a basin at the top that drains down to supply your plants with irrigation.

Have fun exploring all the different options and create a fabulous tall garden this season.

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's That Time of Year Again!

Preparing to Shop For Your Christmas Tree

We’re not here to tell you what kinds of trees there are, what kind of tree you should get or any of that. You might already have a favorite variety that you purchase every year, or you believe in Love At First Sight of Perfect Tree and choose randomly from year to year. We’re here to review the logistics of getting organized for bringing your tree home.

Before you go shopping…

SCOUT OUT THE PERFECT SPOT IN YOUR HOME. AVOID PLACING YOUR TREE NEAR HEAT SOURCES. You’ll want to keep your tree away from radiators, fireplaces, heating vents and even overly sunny windows. Measure the ceiling height and width of the space you choose. Don’t forget to consider your tree topper when measuring.

MEASURE MEASURE MEASURE. Once you’ve decided where you want to place your tree, be sure to measure the space, write down measurements and take them with you to shop for your tree. This will make for an easier set up once you get home with your tree. Take your tape measure along with you to confirm measurements when shopping.

TREE STANDS. Make sure your tree stand will accommodate the size of your tree. It's also a good idea to have a stand that holds a generous amount of water. (We love the Cinco tree stands.) This will cut down on your need to replenish water while you have your tree, which can get tricky once it’s surrounded by gifts.

Cinco Tree Stand

PICK A WINNER. When selecting your tree, be sure it’s fresh. Needles should not be discolored, nor should they fall off with a brushing of your hand. Needles should be bendable and not snap when you test them. If the lot you’re shopping at seems to have all duds, don’t feel bad. Just wish them a Merry, Merry and check out another lot. You want your tree to be perfect and special.

TRANSPORT IN COMFORT. Consider taking an old blanket to lay out in your car/van for transporting your tree. Also, take a pair of heavy duty gloves for handling your tree.

WELCOME HOME, TREE! Consider leaving a bucket of lukewarm water waiting to welcome your thirsty tree. And have your tree stand on stand-by. A little eggnog might also be a nice reward for yourself for getting your newest (temporary) member of the family through the door!

MAINTENANCE. Water your tree daily the first few days. You may even need to water twice a day.

Decorating Guidelines. For trees up to 8’ tall, you’ll need about 100 lights per foot. Increase to 150 lights per foot for trees over 8’. Depending on the size of the ornaments, you can use 20 to 50 ornaments per foot of tree.

Keep your poinsettias well-hydrated and away from warm or cold drafts. Poinsettias are tropical and sensitive. They like to be well-hydrated and not too cold or too hot. Keep in mind, if you under-water, the plant will wilt and lower leaves will drop. If you overwater, the lower leaves will turn yellow and then drop.

Hang your outdoor lights before it snows! Might make the job a little easier to hang lights pre-snow. Watch your local forecasts and seize the best weather day!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


The Xeriscaping symbol was developed by many employees at Denver Water (the water department of Denver, CO), where the term was coined.

The concept of xeriscaping was created for the purpose of minimizing the use of water. Although originally conceived as a response to the drought of 1977 in our western states, it has become popular across the nation. In light of the extreme weather conditions we've been experiencing these past few years, we're all more and more aware of what a precious commodity water is and we're continuing to make changes to preserve and use it wisely.

If you'd like to read more about this topic, Colorado State University Extension is a wonderful place to start.

A fine example of xeriscaping can be found at the
Lurie Garden in Chicago's Millennium Park.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Is Fabulous

Fall is here and with it comes lots of color, great flavors, wonderful smells and  the sounds of crunching leaves and children laughing. Enjoy the season!

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Demystifying Soil Amendments - Continued

Garden Bed Amendments V – Specialty Products for Garden Soil

Soil amendments are anything you can add to the soil to improve its nutritional value, water retention, drainage, structure and aeration to create a better environment for plant root development or increase or decrease drainage or slow soil erosion.  Soil amendments can also be considered products that you can use on top of the soil to retain moisture, slow erosion, manage weeds, moderate soil temperature, increase aesthetics and aid in plant growth.  They can be either organic or inorganic.     
Always follow the label for all products.  We strongly recommend you get a soil test before adding any nutrients to your soil.  This will give you a clear understanding of what might be missing from your garden’s soil.  You can use a company like Agricultural Soil Management, Inc. in Champaign, IL to do your soil test or go to http://urbanext.illinois.edu/soiltest/ for a listing of companies.

Some of the following products are easy to find at your local Independent Garden Center but others may be difficult to find stocked.  Some of these products have suitable substitution that your local Garden Center experts can suggest for you, but if you really have your heart set on one product or a brand of product, you can talk to them and they may be able to special order it for you.

Soil Moist
Soil Moist

Is a name brand for one type of polymer with water
storing capabilities to help reduce waterings
            We recommend this to be added to containers that
            are in a lot of sun
We also recommend this to be used in plantings where
regular watering may be difficult   


Are microscopic fungi that help the root structure of plants take up water and nutrients for healthier plants that resist disease and insects
            Can be found as a granular or in a water soluble (i.e. Brand name Thrive) form
This product does not have any direct beneficial nutrition; however, it increases the plant’s ability to access nutrients in soil

Diatomaceous Earth for the Garden

Diatomaceous Earth
            Inorganic – but a natural mineral that is mined
            all over the world
Used as a pest management tool but will kill
beneficials too (it dries out both hard body and soft
body insects by getting into their respiratory systems, 
and for soft body pests such as slugs, it is like sharp
glass to them)
Used on top of the soil and as a line barrier
            Use in dry weather
            Often used in organic gardening practices


            It is a biosolid
Is a fertilizer that is natural 5-2-0 slower release
            It won’t burn
            It may deter deer and rabbits
            Used as a top dress for both gardens and lawn


Top dress – to apply product on top of the soil or garden surface to either add nutrients, limit weed seed germination or weed growth, retain moisture, deter soil erosion, increase aesthetic beauty

Leaching – Water soluble plant nutrients are lost due to over watering or the soil’s inability to hold on to those nutrients for later use

PH – is the measure of acidity to basic from #1 to #14

PH neutral – is in the middle of the PH scale at #7

Slightly Acidic – to lower the PH

Slightly Basic - To sweeten the soil, to raise the PH often associated with lime products

N-P-K – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are often depicted as number on plant fertilizers (i.e. 10-10-10)