Archive for the ‘Designing and Constructing Your Garden’ Category

5 Tips When Installing SOD

grass2We FINALLY got our sod installed.. It was a long time coming. We had officially gotten our yard ready for sod, when THE DAY BEFORE it was supposed to come, I broke my ankle.. So we decided to postpone it until the next spring, and here we are!

So sod is actually quite resilient. There are just a few things you should worry about when installing sod.

  1. Make sure your soil is amended. Many times people will pull out an old yard, or put in grass in a newly built home, but they neglect to put any soil amendments into the soil before installing the grass. The organic matter helps to have the grass establish itself quickly and grow to be a healthy lawn. You don’t want to have to fertilize it too quickly after installing it. So take the time to add in some good organic matter to the soil before putting the grass in. You’ll thank me later.
  2. Make sure your sprinklers have FULL coverage before installing grass. Many times the sprinkler system is inadequate and you will end up with dead sod pretty quickly if that is the case. A little prep work before it is installed will save you in the future.
  3. Keep moist, but you don’t need to drown it either. Because it is spring, I will not have to water my new sod nearly as much as if it was installed in the summer time. Water to keep quite moist- those roots loose moister faster than when they are established down into the ground. So pay attention to the weather and how moist it is! and make decisions based on your OWN circumstances.
  4. Keep kids and dogs OFF it as much as possible. Have you ever seen likes of where dogs pace in lawns? Walking on lawns can even be hard on them when they are established! So they will die much faster when they don’t have a good root base yet! So for a few weeks while it is getting established- keep kids and dogs off. I put up a little temporary fence to keep my dog off, and gently remind my kids to not venture onto it.
  5. Sod establishes much faster than seed! yes, you can get an awesome looking lawn from seed, but it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the weed seeds that get in there, and if you have a dog and kids like I do, you may want to think about the time frame that you will have to keep them off- vs sod. A few months or a few weeks.. I chose the later. AND it is less work. Easy decision.

What is your opinion? Do you like SOD or SEED? I would love to know the experience you had with that! And any tips you have for me as we wait for the grass to root down.

Happy Gardening!

What do you plant in the Spring?

springplanting.jpgOne question I get asked a lot is, “what can I plant in the spring? What is OK to plant now?” Well, that depends on your area and the climate there now.

BUT some of the cold weather plants that enjoy cooler weather and can handle a few frosts are:

  • Spinach
  • Spring mix lettuce
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peas
  • Strawberry plants
  • Onion seeds
  • Tomatoes in Walls of Water
  • Garlic planted last fall

Those are the things I have going in my garden right now. If you are NEW to gardening, just choose ONE or TWO things to plant right now. And watch the weather and water as needed. It may not need to be watered as often with rain and snow, but if it has a dry spell, make sure to water them!

Topped tomato plant

Topped tomato plant

We had to cut off the top of the tomato plants as they got damaged by the frost. We had them covered, but it must have been a strong frost and still damaged them. They look like they will do just fine. But we will watch and see how it affects them this year.

Choosing Tomaotes

Nothing compares to a fresh-picked, homegrown tomato, especially when the tomatoes we buy at the store are often nearly tasteless! The trouble is there are hundreds of varieties to choose from.

To help you navigate the nursery or seed catalog this spring, Birds & Blooms—America’s # 1 Bird & Garden Magazine—has put together a list of the top 10 best tomatoes to grow:

·         Sauce-makers: You wouldn’t think a Roma tomato would pack such a punch, but the name really says it all. Burpee claims a single 2-pound tomato will fill an entire sauce jar. So if you like to can your own sauce,SuperSauce (pictured to the right) could be your new favorite. 

·         Staples: Chances are you’ve seen them at your garden center.Celebrity tomatoes were an All-America Selections veggie in 1984, and we think they still deserve top honors. They’re bright red, reliable and scrumptious—everything you love about tomatoes in summer.

·         Colorful varieties: While most tomatoes start green and then redden as they ripen, consider branching out into one of these more colorful varieties: Aunt Ruby’s German Green, the Black Cherry, or the exotic-looking Green Zebra.

·         Grafted varieties: If you have a small space but want lots of fruit in your tomato garden, grafted tomatoes could be the solution. The Grafted Brandywine is one great example.

 Thanks Birds and Blooms!

Happy Gardening!

Tomato Time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have decided to change the direction of this blog a bit. Instead of being a how to based blog, I am going to journal my efforts in the garden. I hope that it will be inspiring and helpful to your gardening efforts. But as always I am happy to answer questions!

Today I transplanted 23 Big Mama Roma to bigger pots. No, I am not going to plant them all in my garden. I just grow a bunch extra for family and friends. I’m growing them for myself so why not? They should be ready to transplant outside soon, but I wanted to give them a bit more time. They got off to a late start this year.

We have our other tomatoes already planted outside. Here in the Salt Lake Valley, the last frost is not expected until mid May, so we put walls of water around them to keep them warm and growing in the colder surroundings.

Needless to say, I can hardly wait until it’s time to eat tomatoes from the garden!

Happy Gardening!

How to Use Vinegar for PLANTS!

vinegar, using vinegar in the garden, vinegar for plants, how to make soil more acidic I have found Vinegar to be a very interesting thing. It has multiple uses that seem contradictory. It can be life giving and life taking in the plant world. However you use it, it is a great tool to have for your garden and yard care. Here are some ways to use it.

  • Kill weeds or unwanted grass. Just poor full strength on the weed and it should kill them within a few days. This works best with young weeds, and with more mature weeds it might take a few applications.
  • Increase soil acidity. Here in our very alkaline soil, it is hard to grow things that love acidic soil. So if you have that problem too, try occasionally watering it with water that has vinegar. Just add one cup of vinegar to a gallon of water then poor on the plants such as Blueberries, gardenias, and azaleas.
  • Those cut flowers in the vase, prolong their life by adding two tablespoons of vinegar plus three tablespoons of sugar per quart of warm water.
  • Clean pots with vinegar before reusing to kill bacteria and neutralize lime from the soil.
  • You can also rinse your hands off with some vinegar after working in the garden to avoid rough and flaking skin.

Those are just a few of the ways it can be used in the garden and yard. Please feel free to share any ways you have found using vinegar useful!

As always happy gardening!

Gardening Disasters

We all make mistakes when gardening. This is how we learn and become better gardeners. It is great to learn from others mistakes so that we can make our own set of mistakes. Right? Using the garden planner, is a great tool to help you know how many plants will fit the the area you have and also send you reminders to plant those things. I LOVE using the garden planner because it helps me have a master plan so that I can make the most of the growing space I have. It can also help with the next years garden and show you where not to plant so that you can have proper rotation.

Happy Gardening!

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5 Spring Gardening Tips for Beginners

How to Care for SeedlingsWith spring just around the corner – well, it’s here in some states – I thought it would be a perfect time to share some simple tips for gardening, what to start with, how to manage it and what works best for beginners.

Courtesy of chef/gardener/instructor Dan Brophy of Oregon Culinary Institute – the only independent culinary school in Portland – here are five tips to help get your garden off the ground:

1.  Now is the time to start tomato, pepper, and eggplant from seed.  You’ll have more choice of plant varieties by choosing your own seed.  Some varieties will thrive better in your micro-climate.

2.  Check with local Master Gardeners or County Extension for specific suggestions.

3.  Tomato, Pepper, and eggplant respond best if gentle bottom heat is provided for the 1-2 week period necessary for germination.

4.   After the 1st set of true leaves appear, transfer plant into individual peat pots.

5.  Transfer plants only after “hardening off” (gradually exposing plants to sunlight, wind, etc).  I wait until soil temps are at least 50 degrees F. Remember, tomatoes respond best to full sun!

One extra tidbit from Brophy: “Best of luck!  Two things money can’t buy, true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

Thanks Dan!

Happy Gardening!

7 of the Healthiest Veggies That Are EASY to Grow

7 of the most healthy vegetables, what are some healthy veggies to grow, are veggies easy to growI don’t know about you, but I like to know about the food I eat, and what nutrition is in it. I guess it is a little hobby of mine. If you are going to plant a garden, and only can or want to grow a few items, why not grow those packed with the most nutrition and are EASY to grow? With a little effort, you can see how easy they can be to grow. AND improve your health at the same time.

  1. Tomatoes: one of the most commonly home grown veggies, once tasted, you will see why. I almost never  buy store bought tomatoes because I have been so spoiled by the home grown. Someone who claims to not like tomatoes might very well take that back once they have something with a homegrown tomato in it. Be it a hamburger, salsa, marinara sauce or even tomato soup. When you grow your own tomatoes, they have an amazing amount of nutrients compared to the store bought ones. They are picked too early and shipped long distances- reducing what little nutrients they were able to get before their early harvest. Great source of Vitamin A, E, C and Fiber and Omega 6 Fatty Acid.  They are known for thier cancer fighting qualities, but also are great for keeping blood pressure in check.
  2. Broccoli: Very easy to grow, and can grow in a limited space with no problems. The only tricky part is making sure to harvest the head before it starts to flower.  You don’t want to harvest too early if it is still growing, but if you wait even a few days, the flowers will open and it doesn’t taste as good. Just keep it growing fast, but providing enough water and nutrients and you will have a great tasting broccoli. It will produce some smaller heads after the first is harvested. You can make cream of broccoli soup, eat it raw, or serve it steamed. Broccoli has even more nutrients than tomatoes: a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese. And it even has protein! They are great for reducing risk for lung, stomach and rectal cancers, and boosting immune function.
  3. Carrots: Carrots are fun to grow, because you sow a little seeds, and let them grow. Just make sure the soil is not too compacted as this will limit their ability to grow downwards. They do not take up much space in the garden and last a long time after they are harvested if you cut off the greens right away. You can grow enough to last a few months in the winter! Carrots area very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium. Renowned for their ability to improve eye skin and hair health, but also are packed with anti oxidants and are great for cardiovascular health.
  4. Spinach/Kale: I will group these together because they are both greens and very healthy ones at that. Both are easy to grow and can be harvested over and over again on the same plant before having to replant. Spinach likes to go to flower in the heat of summer and this makes the leaves bitter. A great way to have an instant salad, but also great to freeze and then add to smoothies to boost the healthiness of the smoothy! Spinach is a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. And because it is so packed with nutrition, it helps with just about everything. No wonder Popeye liked it so much. Kale a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
  5. Peppers: hot peppers, bell peppers- any pepper you choose. They are all packed with nutrients. They also have smaller plants than their tomato cousins and so can easily be grown in a container. There is such a variety of uses for them, but we like to grow them for salsa and salads. Bell Peppers a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Magnesium and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese. They carry the nutrients that are great for preventing cancers.
  6. Squash: Summer squash, and winter squashes all have a great deal of nutrition. They do get diseases, however you can usually still get a great harvest from them before the disease takes over too much. If you want to have a high producing plant that is hard to eat all that it produces- grow a zucchini plant. Great to cook in stir-fry, eat fresh, add shredded to salads, ect. Zucchini gives you a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. They are anti inflammatory, thus good for inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
  7. Onions: Onions are another one of those sow a few seeds and watch them grow. Then you can harvest them and save them for the winter months. It is possible to grow enough to last the whole year until your garden produces more. I don’t need to get started on how to use them, as they have such a great ability to enhance the taste of foods and meats. Onions are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C.

Happy Gardening!

What are Goji Berries and Can I Grow Them In My Garden?

So you might have heard of Goji Berries before. They are one of those super foods that contain an enormous amount of nutrition and anti oxidants in a small portion.  They are also quite expensive to buy because they are usually imported in from China! They are also sometimes called wolfberry. One of my goals is to become more self sufficient and grow all that I can on my own. This not only reduces costs of buying, especially those expensive super foods, but also reduces my carbon foot print, improves my health and emotional well being. And there is something satisfying about being able to walk out your back door, and harvest something for dinner. I don’t think I will ever get over that feeling.

I became interested to know if I could grow my own Goji Berries in my climate in the Salt Lake Valley. So I decided to share some of my research with you so that you too can reap the rewards of growing such an exotic sounding plant in your yard.

Happy Gardening!