Category Archives: Garden

How Garden Landscapers Can Use Garden Decking to Make Your Green Spaces Great

Great gardens let you enjoy your open spaces without having to do too much work. Garden landscapers can direct and control your green spaces so you can get maximum enjoyment from them without having to put in too much work in your precious spare time when frankly you would be much happier sitting around reading the newspaper and drinking a nice glass of Chardonnay!

Garden decking is a great way to add an easy-to-maintain, natural look ambience to your outside spaces. Decking is made of wood, so it feels natural and looks right. Its usually raised, so you have an unimpeded view of the rest of your garden. And because its treated for weather and microbe exposure it pretty much looks after itself all you need to do is sweep or pressure hose it every now and again and have it re-treated once a year.

Garden landscapers can fit your garden decking into an overall scheme designed to create a perfect haven, where you can relax and watch the world go by or entertain your friends, perhaps, with an al fresco dinner party. To create a place like this your landscapers will look at the overall area of your outside space, the access to and from the house and the view you and your guests will enjoy while using your decking. In some cases it makes more sense to put the garden decking off the back of the house (effectively making a sort of wooden patio); in others, its better for your garden landscapers to create a freestanding decking area at the other end of your garden, where it is completely surrounded by greenery and plants.

The actual anatomy of your decking installation is up to you, defined as ever by desires and budget. A straightforward garden decking installation is simply a wooden area on which you can sit, or place garden furniture. At the other end of the spectrum your garden landscapers can create an outdoor Jacuzzi bath complete with plants in pots and a changing area. Your imagination and the size of your wallet is all that separates you from relaxing under the stars with a bottle of bubbly, a loved one and a luxurious steaming bath.

One great simple tip to make your garden decking area exotic is to have earth beds underneath it, with Hawaiian style outdoor torches staked into it. The safe flaming torches or garden candles can be incorporated into your garden landscapers plans, or you can add them yourself once the garden decking installation is complete.

With precious leisure time at more of a premium than ever before, your free hours should be spent in total relaxation. With a decking installation, you can enjoy the weather and the greenery whenever you like.

How to Grow Flowering Kalanchoe Plants for Drought Tolerant Gardens or as Houseplants

Kalanchoe plants are pretty dry garden bloomers known for their bright colorful flowers. They’re great succulent plants for dry landscapes or as houseplants in container gardens indoors. Kalanchoes are in the Crassulaceae or, Stonecrop family. Most varieties are perennial and evergreen.

One of the most popular form of kalanchoe species grown today is kalanchoe blossfeldiana and its many hybrid plants. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana plants grow up to 2 feet tall and as wide. They have large, leathery leaves about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. The leaf edges are usually lightly scalloped and may have a slight tint of red or other color. Some hybrid plants have smooth edges and different colors on the leaf.

Flowers bloom in upright, large clusters from 2 to 3 inches across, and are made up of small daisy like flowers of 5 petals. The stamens are usually yellow and can stand out brightly depending on the flower color. Flower colors can range from white, yellow, orange, red, pink and everything in between. Flowers can also be creamy, dreamy pastels, or have flowers with more than one color, but kalanchoe blossfeldiana are mainly known for neon bright colors. These drought tolerant plants make a bold statement in the garden with their glowing, bright flower colors. Bloom is heaviest in spring, but they can bloom all year with a little feeding of fertilizer after the first bloom.

Care of kalanchoes outdoors is easy in mild winter areas. They are hardy to USDA Zone 10b, or 35 degrees, (Sunset Zone: 17, 21-24), These plants can take full sun to part shade in the garden. Outdoors, if it gets over 100 degrees for more than a few days, or your plants develop brown spots it may be getting sunburn. Either move the pots, or provide a little shade during the hottest part of the day. Indoors they prefer a bright windowsill with lots of light. Indoors, place plants near a bright window.

Kalanchoes are popular gifts during the winter and make nice housewarming presents. If you are lucky enough to receive one the first thing you might want to do is see if the soil is dry. If so, give your plant some water and let it drain in the sink. Then move them outside if you are in a mild winter area, or to a windowsill if it is cold outside.

Seeds saved from hybrid plants will not grow out to look the same as the parent plants. It is much easier to propagate kalanchoe with leaf or stem cuttings. Place the cuttings in damp soil, and keep the soil moist for the first two weeks. After that, let the soil dry out between waterings.

Water requirements are low. They can take average garden water, but will also grow well with much less. In my garden a few plants are out in a section with the natives and other drought tolerant plants and they do quite well. To avoid root rot, let the soil dry out before you water them again.

Kalanchoe plants also do well in container gardens. Since they can handle drought, they are a bit more forgiving than other plants if you forget to water them! They look great on the patio or as a focal point on your table.

Pergola Why It’s A Must Have In The Garden

A pergola is a structure that you must put up to your garden now because aside from the fact that it’s an inexpensive to build, it offers you lots of rewards as well. That’s the justification why you want to assemble it to your garden as soon as possible. A pergola is after all a must have structure in a garden.

I’m certain that at this moment, you’re imagining of the rewards that you’ll be benefitting from a pergola. Exactly, what are the rewards that you’ll be gaining from it?

Well, first, it augments the elegance of your lawn. If your garden is lacking charm and beauty, bother no more because you can easily add charm and beauty to your lawn through setting up a pergola. There’s no wonder why you can’t wait setting it up to your lawn.

Second, adding a pergola to a lawn is a brainy idea because it doesn’t only enhances its elegance but as well, it increases the worth or value of your property. That’s I believe why you’re so interested adding it up to your garden now. It’s a structure that’s worth to be constructed in the midst of a lawn.

Third, it can be the focal point of your lawn. So if you want your garden to have a center of attraction that your entire family can be proud of should you be showing the garden to your beloved guests and friends anytime soon, putting up a pergola into it is the perfect thing that you can do now.

As you noticed, a pergola is no ordinary piece of structure that you can set up to your lawn. It has positive effects to your garden and to your entire property too. That’s the rationale why its popularity is rising up continuously.

You must therefore build a pergola to your lawn at this point if you want to conquer and enjoy those wonderful rewards. So why don’t you obtain a pergola plan now?

The author is associated with Specialized Design Systems LLC, a contractor that has been manufacturing and offering exceptional pergola plans now! Found at !/~/category/id=2228154&offset=0&sort=addedTimeDesc are vast information concerning pergola plans.

Gardens through the Ages

As a pursuit built as much on our own foresight as it is on our creativity, it is important to reflect on the schools of thought that drove previous horticulturalists, because, as influential as the great painters and film makers are on our artistic heritage, so of course must be the gardeners that came before you and me. So well use this article to pay some gratitude to, and hopefully learn the motivations behind, the green spaces of the past and how these reflect on those of the future.

The genesis of artistic horticulture began with one of the oldest recorded civilizations, in the Persian Empire – at its height over 3000 years ago. Gardens emerged as an organic rebuttal to the harshness of the Iranian landscape and also as a testament to the ingenuity of contemporary engineering. It was the introduction of structures now referred to qanats which made the impossible ideal of Persian design a reality. These subterranean aqueducts were originally developed as a means to combat the hostility of the surrounding desert and make plausible the mass integration of agriculture, and also of water supply. The Persian garden is famous for its contrast with the landscapes it survived in – while the renaissance horticulturalists sought to form uniformity among that which nature already provided, the eastern garden is characterized by its ambition in the face of adversity, perhaps personified by the persistence of the legends of the garden of Babylon. So emotive was this school of design, that its thematic sensibility travelled as far west as the Iberian peninsula (modern day Spain and Portugal), where the gardens of the Alhambra are a good example, and as far east as the flat lands of India, where the gardens of the Taj Mahal were laid out in the Persian style. The horticulturalists of both these countries can, like the Persians, be considered geographical victim to, and conqueror of, the arid landscape.

Despite the predating Egyptian, Roman and Hellenic empires, none had before employed gardens with such frivolity and with so great a gulf between the priorities of art and state.

The next chronological milestone in horticulture comes from what is now the longest surviving empire of the ancient world, the Chinese principality, beginning with the Qin dynasty approximately 200 BC. These projects were usually state sponsored and were often established as a form of a homage to the current imperial patriarch, the Qin dynasty, however, they took a back seat in the progression of Chinese scholarly gardening to the Yin Yang philosophy that dominated the countries academia in later centuries. This impetus stemmed from a focus on the importance of harmony and balance within, and in relation to natural setting, hence the design ideal that spread to medieval Japan, which I have mentioned in a previous editorial. Thus began the idea of microcosmic recreations of the natural landscapes of both countries, the obsession with symbolism to evoke greater scope than would be possible in the dimensions of a conventional garden, and also the inclusion of panoramic perspective to give the illusion of size. These included the use of gravel pits to signify oceans or deserts, which themselves were identified by the deliberate inclusion of rock formations to represent land masses or landmarks within these miniature environments.

Following the fragmentation of the Roman Empire, two major powers emerged in Eurasia from the remains of the old imperial senate – the Western Roman Empire fell to ruin against the hordes of Attila, while the eastern remnant would later evolve into the Byzantine Empire. The vast majority of their horticultural heritage, however, was lost with the sack of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire and, while contemporary novels provide romanticized accounts of the techniques employed, the only solid evidence we can rely on is the context around which they were constructed, which dictated all those that came before. Due to the relative youth of orthodox Christianity, the integration of animal sculpture to the Byzantine garden was not an unreasonable concept – having not fully established the accepted religion, pagan idolatry was still rife and thus nature, as opposed to divinity, was held in much higher regard – unlike the monastic gardens that were to follow.It is reasonable to accept that these motivations continued until the demise of the empire in 1453, which leads conveniently into the subject of renaissance gardening.

Despite the stimulus of its predecessors, and the relative contrast between countries and the respective art movements in other mediums, renaissance gardeners had one common ideal: uniformity. The beginning of the renaissance and the introduction of formalized aristocracy, following the bloody medieval period, led to a new focus on regality and aesthetic symmetry, and brought with it a boom in the popularity of topiary. Hedging had become a geometric means of maintaining the lines and shape of beds and gardens and also in promoting the favoured colour of the era, which was green. Many royal and state gardens were designed with a birds eye perspective, in that the formation and shaping of hedges and beds were intended to be seen from above, which meant that, while the garden was aesthetically pleasing, it was not an interactive experience, but one whose primary function was to be observed – and observed from a distance. Excellent examples of such gardens can still be seen at Versailles and Villandry in France.

With the introduction of the Romantic Movement in the 18th century, came a particularly English focus on the revival of the pastoral imagery that over the past few centuries had become so populist in continental art. The realization of an idyllic landscape, including lakes, trees and temples, became as much a part of the fabric of horticulture, as it had of contemporary literature and painting – hence the favoured integration of livestock such as sheep and horses to the garden grew exponentially! Lancelot Capability Brown was not the first designer to employ this style, but he was perhaps the most famous, designing 170 gardens including Petworth in West Sussex, Chatsworth in Derbyshire and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

By the end of the romantic era, however, the class division in the country had grown to dizzying heights due to the effect of the industrial revolution, which was only further exacerbated by the First World War breaking out. Due to the pressures that global conflict produced, gardens were forced to evolve once more to be used for more practical purposes and, by the time World War Two hit, the working class was fully indoctrinated with the grow your own mentality. It became not only a personal responsibility, but a national duty, to dig for victory to ensure that, should the worst occur, one would be ready to contribute to the cause of king and country, and thus vegetable gardens became the new standard.

Once the wars were over, however, and the economy benefitted from the rule of a new and industrious government, sustainable consumption was no longer a priority for the common man, and so English culture underwent a second renaissance and what emerged were the many and varied children of a hundred older gardening cultures that we see today – but no less beautiful for it.

Finally, we must address the garden design of tomorrow, which in the wake of the 19th century industrial boom can be summarized in one word: Ecology. As well be covering in another topic this week, it has become the primary focus of both government and leading designers to ensure that our domestic gardens, as well public green spaces, are as sustainable as possible so that they, at least, may shine brightly in the shadow of our uncertain future.

Expanding your Horizons – Tricks to Make your Garden Look Bigger!

While an experienced gardener will have a knack for best taking advantage of the space theyve got, for example with the correct balance of small to large plants or how their borders are positioned, there is one magic trick none of us can perform and that is expanding the space itself. Of course, if Harry Houdini were here hed tell you the key to a good illusion is the mirrors, not the elephant. So as youve probably guessed, todays article concerns means of giving the appearance of a larger garden than youre actually possessed of.

Starting at ground level, we have the lines and shapes of a garden – specifically sectioned areas like lawns or paving. Due to the rectangular shape of many suburban gardens and box like connotations that geometric shapes invoke, it is often best to use fluid shapes such as circles or ovals when shaping your lawn. They not only disguise the boundaries but can also make a garden appear much wider. This can also apply to the paving that surrounds said lawns, as too many straight lines make the spaces seem constricted and unnatural. On that note, if youve a small garden, try to avoid large paving slabs as these tend to overpower the more delicate elements of a garden and, by using smaller pieces, youll be able to implement a random paved technique that no doubt will be more pleasing to the eye.

Apart from your open spaces, careful planning concerning your planting scheme is also essential to enlarging the garden as a whole. Remember the basic principle of all interior designers: lighter equals larger, while darkness means confinement. As such, your deeper toned flowers should be centralized to your borders and surrounded by lighter flowers that will relieve their oppressive connotations. Whilst surrounding the back door with crimson blooms, for example, can present an image of warmth that will be associated with the building itself, it can confine the observer, with the brighter colours fighting for your attention. Aim for lighter colours in your beds to match the greatest space you can manipulate, the sky above them. Aside from colour you should also consider the textures of your plants, finely textured plants like Rosemary will reflect light differently than the heavy foliage of a Laurel, which means that careful layering can add depth to your garden, while heavy handedness can make it look flat. Finally, you have the size of your plants which will vary depending on the type of garden youre aiming for. Simply put, bigger is better, thousands of tiny shrubs and flower heads make a garden look cluttered, whereas a bold structural scheme can attest to the size of their environment. Then theres the vertical approach – as vertical stripes make a dress seem longer, so do tall trees add a height to your garden that, even if you cant touch it, you can imagine it.

While on the subject of vertical gardening, it is important to note the value of structures like archways and pergolas. Similarly to the telescopic effect of putting your eye to a pin hole, a long corridor like this can give the illusion of length particularly if entwined with vibrant hanging flowers. There are also various perspective arches on the market which have the same effect. A garden can also be made to look longer by constructing paths that narrow in width as they progress down the plot.

Finally we have the oldest trick in the book, and one that brings us back to Mr. Houdini – mirrors. Reflective glass has been used by designers since time immemorial to double or triple the size of a room and theres no reason not to apply this beyond the home, and into the garden. Most effective when placed facing an open space such as a lawn or a pretty planting scheme, but not so as to immediately reflect the viewer as they approach, they can give the illusion of another inviting garden beyond. Their illusion can be strengthened by the addition of a view of moving water that will lend the image fluidity.

Preventing Trouble In Your Garden Before It Starts.

Many different troubles are likely to occur in your garden. That is reality. The nature of the plant is significant here, some hardy shrubs might stay trouble free all their lives, an old-fashioned Rose might be host to an assortment of pests and diseases every season. The weather is another basic factor, there will be slugs when it’s wet, greenfly when it is dry, frost damage when it’s cold and red spider mite when it’s hot. So both expert and novice gardeners can expect problems.

The big difference is that the expert knows what to look for, takes steps to cut down the likelihood of pest and disease attack, and tackles trouble the moment it appears. Garden troubles are tackled in two basic ways, culturally and chemically. One method cannot replace the other, they both have their job to do in a well-tended garden.

Pruning properly:

You must learn this indispensable art. It is obviously essential for ensuring fruit and flower production, but it is also essential in the war against pests and diseases. Cut out dead wood. Remove congested branches to ensure adequate exposure to air. Paint large cuts with Arbrex.

Choose wisely when buying plants:

Reject soft bulbs, lanky bedding plants, aged seeds, unhealthy looking shrubs and disease-ridden perennials.

Plan carefully:

Be certain that your plant is right for your site. Avoid sun loving plants if shade is an issue – avoid tender plants if the garden is open and susceptible to frosts. Rotation of crops is also important for a lot of vegetables.

Spray to avoid disease:

Fungicides tend to be protectors rather than cures. This means you should spray as soon as the first spots are seen. In some cases (e.g black spot, peach leaf curl) you are required to spray before the disease is seen.

Remove dead plants, rubbish and weeds:

Rotting plants can often be a source of infection, some actually attract pests into your garden. Boxes, old flower pots etc are a breeding ground for slugs and woodlice. Weeds rob plants of food, water, light and space. Hoe them out or pull them out – take care if you use a weedkiller.

Guard against animals:

Use netting to safeguard seedlings, vegetables and soft fruit from birds. A cylinder of wire-netting all around the trunk base is the best way to keep squirrels, rabbits, cats and dogs far away from the bottom of trees.

Always follow the rules of excellent cleanliness under glass:

The humid environment in your greenhouse is a paradise for pests and diseases. Control is often difficult, so again, prevention is better than cure. Use compost or sterilized soil when planting. Ensure the house is adequately ventilated; dry air encourages pests and poor growth, saturated air encourages diseases. Try to avoid sudden fluctuations in temperature; water regularly. Water during the morning, although you can water in the early evening if the weather is warm. Remove dead leaves and plants without delay.

Feeding your plants properly:

Shortages of nutrients often leads to numerous problems, poor growth, undersized blooms, lowered disease resistance and discolored leaves. But take care, overfeeding can cause scorch, and unbalanced feeding with too much nitrogen can lead to lots of leaves and very few flowers.

Prepare the ground painstakingly:

A strong-growing plant is more likely to resist pest or disease attack than a weak specimen. Water-logging as a result of insufficient soil preparation is a basic cause of plant failure in heavy soils. Add a humus maker when digging. Remove perennial weed roots. Add Chlorophos to the soil if pests have gnawed roots in a different place in your garden.

Easy Steps to Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden

If you are a hobby gardener, you may be dreaming about fresh organic vegetables. It is easier than it seems with a few simple steps. I discovered that vegetable gardening requires good planning and proper preparation for a successful harvest.

Step 1 – Bed and border planning: Whether squash, tomatoes or lettuce, healthy plants have needs. Since most vegetables need a sheltered and sunny spot, growing them in the shade will be a futile effort. The size of the vegetable garden patch depends on the total size of the garden, and what vegetables you want to grow. Radishes or carrots grow well in a confined space. Significantly more space is required for potatoes, squash and cabbage. Draw a scaled plan of the bed and lay out which plants grow where. The single bed should be no wider than 130 inches to keep the center of the bed from both sides within easy reach. Enclosing the bed creates visual clarity and prevents rain from washing away the fertile topsoil. This can be done using weather resistant wood planks of larch, oak, frost-resistant bricks or natural stones. If you typically have a lot of snails in the garden, you may want to consider a special snail guard.

Step2 – Preparing the soil: Before it goes to seeding or planting, you need to prepare the ground. Use a garden claw to loosen up soil or mix existing dirt with nutritious top soil. You can spread a few bags of flower and vegetable topsoil on the bed. This will provide proper nutrition and good plant growth. In order to improve the nutrient content of the soil, you can also incorporate fertilizer. When in doubt conduct a pH test of the soil to avoid over-fertilizing. You can get pH test strips or a soil tester at your local garden center.

Step 3 – Make sure you have good neighbors: Not all vegetables get along. For example, onions should not be planted next to green beans or cabbage. Tomatoes will grow well next to cabbage, lettuce, spinach, parsley, and celery. You can buy seeds or small plants to start your own vegetable garden. Established plants are sometimes easier for gardening newcomers. Sow or plant the vegetables in rows spaced wide enough apart to facilitate later maintenance of the bed. Keep in mind that some vegetables like green beans or tomatoes require a trellis.

Step 4 – Cultivate and harvest: If you plant early in the spring and the weather is still cool, cover the freshly planted and sown vegetables to protect them from frost damage. Otherwise, a vegetable is very easy to maintain. If there is no rain, just water once daily and remove the weeds in between. With a little patience and depending on your region, your own fresh vegetables can be harvested in mid to late summer. When the season is over and you want to use your vegetable patch in the next year again, it is important to give the new soil nutrients. For example, old humus from the compost is ideal for mixing the existing soil.

For more helpful tips and guides on vegetable gardening visit the Gardening Palace at:

How to choose Rattan Garden Furniture

Outdoor and indoor rattan furniture is by far one of the best types of furniture you can use in your garden, conservatory or patio area. The best part is rattan furniture is available in a massive range of styles, from the traditional dining sets to the most modern styles including outdoor sofa sets and day beds, so there is a great choice to meet everyone’s needs.

Rattan is the name given for nearly 600 species of palms native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australasia. Rattan is a type of long vine that matures in tropical parts of the world. To manufacture furniture from this tree, rattan canes are cut and split into manageable sections and then are taken through a process of steaming in order to make them soft and pliable for manipulating into the required shapes and sizes to produce the outdoor furniture we have come to know and love in the U.K.

Traditionally, some of the best types of rattan garden furniture produced have frames made of solid teak with weaves of rattan wrapped around to give it an authentic look. This combination is very durable and hardy, particularly in warm climates or in environments similar to where rattan grows naturally. The new adaptation of this type of manufacturing has replaced the solid teak frame with a powder coated rust resistant aluminium frame which is more suitable for climate like the U.K.

Rattan is very easy to maintain and unlike hardwood and softwood garden furniture sets, rattan furniture does not require oiling, moisturizing or sanding down. Rattan retains its shape, colour, and strength for several years. Cleaning is very simple, any dust or dirt can be easily washed off with a hose pipe or power washer. For any minor cleaning that is required, wiping it with a damp cloth will more than suffice. One of Rattans main qualities is its ability to withstand the earths natural elements, which makes it highly suitable for outdoor use.

Rattan is lightweight and very strong, making it ideal for rough use. The soft texture of Rattan even means that children are safe around rattan furniture. Rattan garden furniture is very cost effective and economical as is tends to be cheaper than solid wood garden furniture and it has a much longer life span.

When looking to purchase rattan outdoor furniture, look for some of the following things relating to the piece you may be interested in. The larger the diameter of the rattan stem will mean it is better quality. A size of 1 inch in diameter would suggest an adequately sturdy stem and will provide a quality piece of furniture. Rattan should be smooth in texture and devoid of hair like strands sticking out from the piece.

Rattan is graded A, B, and C. Grade A is the best quality and will have a smooth texture and similar colour all over. Rattan which is classified as Grade B will have a slightly rougher surface. Grade C Rattan will have a particularly rough surface, and has minor defects and splits in the strands used to make the furniture. Only purchase rattan garden furniture from reputable dealers and suppliers who offer you warranty with your purchase. You should expect a minimum of 12 months manufacturers warranty on your purchase

If you follow the advice above you can have peace of mind that you will get quality piece rattan garden furniture.

House Plant Care – Insect Control in Garden Fruit Plantings

Growing fruit in the home garden can be an interesting, fun and rewarding hobby. This does not happen without a great deal of work. House plant care can be very easy with a few tips to keep them healthy.
Control of pests (diseases and insects) is an integral part of the care necessary to obtain good results. Insect infestations reduce yields and lower the quality of harvested garden vegetables and home fruit plantings. All plant parts may be injured by insects. Some insects bore into roots, seeds or stems. Others destroy crops by chewing on the succulent foliage, stems or fruits. Plant diseases are carried by certain insects. Control can be maintained all season by a combination of cultural practices, mechanical control, biological control and chemical applications.
Cultural practices such as pruning, sanitation, variety selection and selecting open, sites for planting are necessary for good pest control.

How to Use the Spray Schedules

Most fungicide (disease control product) and some insecticide (insect control product) applications are effective only if applied preventatively. The timing of these preventive sprays is based on the growth stage of the plant and forms the foundation of the spray charts that follow. In very rainy seasons, sprays may need to be applied more frequently than the schedule given in the following charts. Wet weather favors development of the disease causing organisms and more chemical protection is needed. Also, rains can wash off the fungicides and insecticides. When rain occurs before a spray has dried or if rainfall totals more than 1 inch within 24 hours, the spray should be re-applied. Fungicides provide more benefit when applied before a rain than after, because protection from infection by disease-causing organisms is needed when plant surfaces are wet.

Additional Spray Tips

One of the biggest mistakes home fruit growers make is to allow their trees to grow too tall. If trees are maintained at a manageable height, it is easier to spray them properly, as well as to harvest the fruit. Proper pruning practices reduce the amount of spray needed and permit better coverage. The type of sprayer used depends on the size of the fruit planting. For most plantings of small fruits or for a few small fruit trees, pump-up sprayers are adequate. Trombone-type sprayers are helpful for taller trees. For the increased spray volumes required by larger home orchards, power sprayers are recommended. Honey bees and other pollinating insects must be protected from insecticides, which will kill them. Do not spray fruit plants with insecticides while the plants are in bloom.

Pesticide Safety

Most of the pesticides suggested for use are low-toxicity materials. However, some precautions are needed:
Keep pesticides in the original, labeled container.
Keep pesticides in a locked storage cabinet, away from children or pets.
Read the label each time before you use the product.
Wear rubber gloves, goggles, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and a hat when mixing and applying pesticides. Refer to the label for required protective gear.
Handle the pesticide carefully when mixing. Avoid breathing dust or vapors. Wash any chemicals off the skin immediately with plenty of water.
Never apply insecticides and fungicides with a sprayer that has been used for weed killers.
Do not spray if it is windy.
Mix only as much as you need. Do not store diluted spray mixtures from one application to the next. They will lose effectiveness and are unsafe.

Multipurpose Fruit Spray

Growers with small fruit plantings may want to consider multipurpose fruit spray products. These materials are widely available, convenient and will serve most pest control purposes. They are mixtures containing a fungicide (captan), and usually two insecticides (malathion and methoxychlor). Multipurpose sprays are produced by several companies and sold under names such as Home Orchard Spray 7, Tree Fruit Spray, All Purpose Fruit Spray7, General Purpose Fruit Spray7 and others. Certain brands contain an additional insecticide, carbaryl (Sevin). Mixtures containing carbaryl should not be applied to apple or pear until 21 days after petal fall, as it causes the fruit to drop.

Sanitation and Cultural Practices

Apple and pear trees are subject to serious damage from pests. The following practices will improve the effectiveness of the pesticides and may lessen the need for sprays.
Plant disease-resistant varieties. Varieties resistant to cedar-apple rust, scab and powdery mildew are also available.
Rake and destroy leaves in the fall, if apple scab, pear scab or pear leaf spot are problems. The organisms that cause these diseases overwinter in infected leaves.
For cedar-apple rust control, elimination of the source of spores – cedar trees – is effective but not always possible. Removal of the galls caused by the fungus on cedar trees is helpful. Pruning trees according to recommendations improves control of all ground diseases. In well-pruned trees, air circulation and sunlight penetration are improved. This helps control diseases by promoting rapid drying after rains and dew. Penetration of sprays into the canopy is also better if the trees are well-pruned.
Prune out and destroy all dead or diseased shoots and limbs during the dormant season. This helps reduce fire blight, fruit rots and certain leaf spots, as the organisms that cause these diseases overwinter in the wood.
Peach, plum, cherry and other stone fruits are commonly affected by serious pest problems and, as a result, a conscientious spray program is needed. The following sanitation and cultural practices will improve the chances of success and may lessen the need for sprays.
Prune trees according to recommendations, to allow better air circulation and sunlight penetration. This helps control diseases by promoting rapid drying after rains and dew. Penetration of sprays into the canopy is also better if the trees are well-pruned.
Remove the overwintering structure for the brown rot fungus, old mummified fruit left hanging in the tree or on the ground.
Control of black knot of plum and cherry is dependent on removal of the knots before they begin to produce spores. In late winter, prune out and destroy these rough, black swellings or tumors that develop on limbs and twigs.
Avoid planting peach varieties that are highly susceptible to bacterial leaf spot. Examples are Elberta, Halehaven, Rio- Oso-Gem and Sunhigh. Chemical control of this disease is very limited.
Most home grape plantings will require a preventive schedule of pesticides, since certain pests such as black rot can completely destroy a crop of fruit. However, the following sanitation and cultural practices will reduce the need for pesticides.
Keep vines well-pruned according to recommendations, to prevent overgrowth of vines and dense canopy. Pruning promotes air circulation and sunlight penetration, thus more rapid drying after rains and dew. Penetration of sprays into the foliar canopy is also better if the vines are well-pruned.
Remove mummified berries (shriveled, dry, raisin-like). Clusters on the vines as well as those that have fallen to the ground should be removed. Also, destroy infected canes that have been pruned off. For control of grape root borer, mounding soil makes it difficult for larvae to reach the roots or adults to emerge. Mound some soil 1 foot high for 12 feet around each vine between early and mid-June.
An intensive, preventive spray program is generally not needed on strawberry. Treatments can usually be made on an as-needed basis. The following sanitation and cultural practices will reduce the need for pesticides.

Bed renovation immediately after harvest is crucial to managing pest problems. Renovation involves narrowing rows, mowing leaves, removing weeds and fertilization. Rake and destroy cut-off leaves and stems after renovation.
Maintain narrow rows throughout the growing season (maximum 18 inches wide), to maintain good sunlight and air penetration of the canopy. This provides good berry formation and rapid drying after rains and dew.
Plant varieties with resistance to red stele and leaf spot. Where anthracnose is a problem, consider the resistant varieties Delmarvel and Sweet Charlie.
Control weeds throughout the growing season. Weeds increase disease by shading the plants and by interfering with air circulation. Weeds also harbor many insect and mite pests.
Mulch with straw before berries begin to lie on the ground, to reduce gray mold and leather rot (fruit rots).

Safe Handling of Insecticides

Home gardeners can control insect pests with reasonable safety by observing these safety rules:
Keep insecticides in the original, labeled container.
Keep insecticides in a locked storage container.
Read the label each time you use the insecticide.
Measure the amount to be mixed carefully.
Do not exceed the recommended rate of application.
Handle the insecticide carefully when mixing to avoid splashing of liquid concentrates and billowing of dusts and powders.
Wear protective clothing and other personal protective equipment as dictated by the label.
To protect yourself when mixing insecticides, it is suggested that protective clothing and equipment, such as chemical-resistant gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and protective eyewear, be worn.
Wash all insecticides off the skin immediately, using plenty of soap and water.
Avoid breathing the spray mist or vapor.
Always mix insecticides outdoors near a source of water.
Clean up any spilled materials to prevent children from entering a heavily contaminated area.
Apply insecticides to only those plants listed on the label.
Observe the time intervals between the last application and harvest.

The severity and type of pest problems on garden vegetables usually vary considerably from year to year. During most growing seasons, consistent production of high quality vegetables is assured only with the use of pesticides for insect control. This is not to suggest that vegetables cannot be grown without pesticides by using nonchemical methods, but it will usually take more effort on the part of the gardener.

For the best garden ever consider Aquaponics

Growing your own crops is undeniably a demanding task even for those deeply in love with gardening. It certainly is a time intensive activity and it requires plenty of energy and dedication. Furthermore, a conventional garden requires fertile land which will sustain your crops. These are generally the main causes for which many people give up their desire to growing their own personal vegetables and switching to home grown organic food. What people dont generally know is that there is a method of growing organic food (pesticide and chemical free) in the comfort of your home. Yes, you read it perfectly: inside of your house.

This new type of farming is called aquaponics and is the simplest way to become a farmer! The great part is that you’ll not only grow vegetables, but you will also grow fish, with the intention to offer your friends and family a diversified nutrition. It all starts fairly simple, with a plain tank filled with water wherein you place some fish. You can get for Tilapia, Chinese Catfish, Crappie, Bluegill or Koi, or whatever species of fish you are allowed to grow in your house. Put them in the water, take good care of them and in about a month position the seeds ensuring they can reach the water and get the nutrients from it. The plants will develop and begin growing using the nutrients offered by the fish. Meanwhile, the fish will enjoy a clean environment as the plants will act as “maids” to them, cleaning and refreshing their water each and every day.

As you can tell this type of farming does not require any type of land, fertilizers or harmful chemicals. Just set up the system and make sure that the water has got the normal PH so that the fish will live comfortably in there. Then, let nature follow its course!

You can grow almost everything you need in the aquaponic farming. Leafy greens, fruity plants and legumes can all be planted within the aquaponic farming. If you have a piece of land where you might cultivate ground-based plants (potatoes, carrots, asparagus, onions, garlic and so on) you can use this water to irrigate it and the results will be spectacular!

This symbiosis between fish and plants is the one which will save you lots of time as well as provides you with a way to take on this activity without compromising your social or professional life. Couple of moments each day will be sufficient for you to make sure that both your crops and your fish are alright! In fact, growing plants and fish with the aquaponic system is so simple that your entire family will be happy to help you with that. Since it involves no dirty hands, bending and digging in the ground, you can even let your little ones help you. It won’t take long so that they won’t get bored and you will get to enjoy moments with them.

Aquaponics is the easiest way through which you will have tasty, fresh and healthy vegetables on your table everyday. There is no need to be afraid. Its easy.