Pest Control for Your Garden

159291849.jpgMany gardeners turn to pesticides in order to rid their gardens of harmful pests. However, most times such damaging and sometimes toxic measures aren’t necessary. Prevention, traps and barriers, and homemade remedies can often be all the control you need for your garden.

Prevention

One of the most important components to pest control is prevention. Get rid of any weak plants, as they can be a breeding ground for predators. Also clear out any weeds or debris. Use natural composting to strengthen your plants, as well as top-dressing and mulching. Use seaweed mulch or spray, which repels slugs as well as providing important nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium. Rotate your crops every year, as many pests are crop-specific. Keep your foliage dry by watering early in the day. Clean your tools if they’ve been used on infected plants, in order to minimize contamination.

Homemade Remedies

These home remedies are specific to the type of pest you encounter in your garden.

  • Soft-bodied insects: Combine one tablespoon canola oil, one quart of water and a few drops of Ivory soap, and fill spray bottle. Shake well, and spray plant from above and below.
  • Mites and other insects: In a quart of water, mix two tablespoons of cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce, and a few drops of Ivory soap. Let stand overnight and then use a spray bottle to apply to plants.
  • Grubs: Use milky spore—natural granules spread on soil. One application can last 40 years, as it naturally multiplies.
  • Earwigs: Use diatomaceous earth by sprinkling it over plants and around garden bed edges.
  • Fungal diseases: Take two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of water, pour into spray bottle and spray affected area every few days as needed.
  • Insects and fungal diseases: In a quart of water, mix one tablespoon cooking oil, two tablespoons baking soda, as well as a few drops of Ivory soap. Pour into spray bottle and apply three treatments, one week apart.
  • Powdery mildew: Combine equal parts water and milk and spray three treatments on infected plants, one week apart.
  • Insects on fruit trees: Use lime sulfur and dormant oil, which you can purchase from nurseries and garden centers. Apply with pump sprayer. To make your own dormant oil, combine one cup vegetable oil and two tablespoons of liquid soap into one gallon of water.

Traps and Barriers

Traps and barriers can also be used to keep pests away. These include yellow flypaper, pheromones, apple maggot traps, cloche, floating row covers, and barrier paper.

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How Bats Benefit Gardens And Gardeners

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Many homeowners are scared of bats, and are trying to keep them away from their plants. However, – contrary to the common belief – bats are good for gardens. Indeed, they can  get rid of more insects in one night than several zapper devices combined. Keeping bats in the garden will naturally eliminate the insects that would feed on the leaves of plants.

People planning a garden party will be happy to know that bats can keep mosquitoes and moths away, so guests can enjoy a romantic evening without being disturbed by these insects. Indeed, they eat as many as 600 mosquitoes an hour, which is impressive. North American bats, on the other hand, are harmless, and do not attack people at all. They hunt for insects and small animals, and hair is safe from them, as well.

The high mineral content of droppings also brings several benefits. Bats are good for gardens simply because they fertilize the soil in a natural way. Gardeners can save money on high nitrogen-content artificial fertilizers if they can attract bats. They cause no damage to the plants, and will protect them from invasive insect species.

People who just discovered that bats are good for gardens can make a plan to attract bats. Several different species are now becoming rare, due to the increased use of pesticides, and they only need a little help to make a garden their home. First, they need a source of clear water. This can be provided in a bowl that is protected from pesticides and other chemicals. Bats simply love water features. Homeowners can also make bat huts and place them on old shady trees. They need to be hung around 10 feet high to be visible and accessible for bats.

There are several animals that can cause damage in the garden, but bats are not one of them. They do not dig up plants, damage leaves, or spread disease. Gardeners can naturally control the population of insects in their garden by attracting these animals.

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Plants That Love Shade

Have you always wondered what you would do with those shade spots in your back garden? Or maybe the entire garden is shaded that you don’t possibly imagine anything growing in it. Well, what you don’t know is the fact that there are plants that love shade and will make your backyard beautiful despite the sunlight strains.

Plantain Lilies

They are also known as the hostas and are perfect for a shady wet ground. They are known for their immaculate foliage and flowers plus they come in different color shades of hold, variegated, gold or green. There are perennials so don’t worry about the ground being too moist for them. Just make sure you keep them safe from slugs or snails (egg shells will help here).

Bergenia

Bergenia are another example of plants that love shade. They are nicknamed ‘Elephant Ears’ because of their large leather-like leaves. In spring, you will see their beautiful bloomy flowers which come in wide variety thanks to the extensive breeding of the Bergenia over the years. Winter will turn the foliage a beautiful purple, so that is something to look forward to as well.

Ferns

Ferns are easy to find and they will thrive in any shaded areas. They are loved for their pristine foliage and their green profile gives any garden that coveted natural look. Ferns are ideal for creating mood and they will fit in any kind of garden offering a lustrous contrast.

Bamboo

Even though it may take years before seeing the bamboo bloom, you will definitely reap huge benefits once foliage season comes. They are known to create the tropical feeling to any garden plus they vary in shapes and sizes. Additionally, bamboo provides shade from the seething sun and act as great wind breakers in your garden.

Lilly of the Valley

An excellent choice for plants that love shade thanks to their beautiful colors. They will thrive under any shade and will form a dense green carpet on your garden with tiny white flower details. They also produce amazing scents in their bloom adding to the serenity of your garden.

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Climbing Plants That Do Well In Dry Areas

We understand that achieving a beautiful garden can be challenging, but the key to a successful garden in any climate begins with plants that are ideal to that climate. In a dry climate, climbing plants can be a haven, providing plenty of leafy vines and a welcoming, cool, shady arbor.

Look for those that love the sun and heat, such as the Pink Trumpet Vine–native to South Africa. This is a slow grower at first, requiring moderate watering, but will speed up its growth once established.

The Clematis, a fast-growing climber, is another fine choice for a dry climate, although requires ample water. It performs well when planted in a sheltered corner, especially when its roots are kept cool. To keep roots cool, cover the root zone with rocks or tile. Don’t worry if it looks dead in the winter, as it will revive come Spring.

A very fast-growing climbing plant for a dry climate is Hall’s Honeysuckle. Its trumpet-shaped flowers produce a heavenly fragrance, putting on its show during Spring and early Summer. This no-fuss climber requires little water, loves the heat, and can tolerate poor soil conditions. It is known to be invasive, so cut it back in Winter.

We love the Cape Honeysuckle on pergolas or arbors. A South African native, the plant can grow up to 25 feet with little water! Ensure it’s initially tied to the pergola.

The Algerian Ivy is a fast grower that climbs virtually anything. It’s a gorgeous climbing vine that boasts lush dark leaves, which can, unfortunately, sunburn. At first, it requires moderate watering, but once established, needs very little water.

The Cat’s Claw is an impressive, vigorous climber that attaches to almost anything. Beware of its eagerness to grow, however, as it can be extremely invasive. Its green leaves and vines allow for pretty, yet short-lived, flowers in Spring.

We’ve chosen some of the fastest growing climbing plants for dry climates because most want quick results, but there are numerous other show-stopping climbers that are worth considering. They will also provide the great looks, beautiful blooms, and the natural shade many homeowners desire.

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How To Start A Wildflower Meadow

If want to have a natural look to replace some of your lawn, consider learning how to grow a wildflower meadow. This type of landscaping requires much less water and fertilizer than lawns and rarely, if ever, needs mowing.

Proper preparation is essential to the success of your meadow. first remove grass and woods and cut existing vegetation close to the ground. Till soil, water thoroughly and cover with sheets of clear plastic for two to six weeks. This will solarize the soil and kill weed seeds. After removing the plastic, till the area, water and wait two weeks for any remaining weeds to germinate.

After the soil is free of weeds, spread up to two inches of compost over the selected area, moisten lightly and till into the top three to six inches of soil. Rake until smooth.

Selecting the correct seed mix is essential. Most natural landscape seed mixtures contain native grasses along with annual and perennial. Determine whether you would like such a mixture or something heavy on flowering plants. Also pay attention to sun, soil and climate conditions and choose mixtures that will thrive in your area. Be aware that mixes that contain only wildflowers will require reseeding within a couple of years.

For best results, sow seeds in mid to late summer as this will eliminate many of the weeds that often wreak havoc with spring plantings. Plant perennial and grass mixtures for best results. Annual wildflower mixtures are better sown in spring. No matter when you plant, use a broadcast spreader and sow seeds at a rate recommended for the mix. After the seeds are spread, rake them gently into the top inch of soil. Keep the soil moist for the first growing season and pull invasive weeds, tree and shrub seedlings as they appear. Add to the mix in subsequent years as bare spots appear, particularly when annuals begin to die out. Many mixtures contain annuals such as bachelor’s buttons and cosmos because they often self-sow.

Don’t get fancy. For best results for a low-maintenance and natural-looking meadow, don’t purchase mixes for areas other than your local habitat. Follow us at Pushing Daisies for the best advice in growing flowers and vegetables.

Tips For Keeping Backyard Fountains And Ponds Clean

Having water fountains or ponds is very good and can really transform your landscape into something very special. However, at some point, you will have to deal with the annoying algae that can turn your water fountain or pool green and very unpleasant. Although it is the way of nature to have algae on water pools and ponds, when it’s too much, it can be disastrous. For example, too much algae can be detrimental to fish and will also damage water pipes. There are so many solutions that can help you maintain clean fountains and this will normally depend on the size of the pool and the extent of the problem. Here are some basic tips though to keep in mind:

Small Fountains

If you have a small fountain, there are some simple and effective solutions you can use to clean them up. The best way to do it is to find a natural cleaner that does not affect the water quality. While in most cases cleaning up small ponds and pools is very easy, you have to start as early as you can. After all, cleaning up too much algae even in a small fountain can take a lot of time and resources.

Small Ponds

Just like small fountains, it is best to always deal with algae as soon as possible. However, the best way to remove algae in small ponds is through a submersible dispenser. The great thing is, this dispenser is completely natural and can be placed under the pond to continually regulate algae and keep the pond clean and clear for quite some time.

Bigger Ponds

Dealing with algae in bigger ponds can prove quite a challenge. However, there are specialized solutions for large ponds including the Aqua sphere — a biodegradable floating ball that is used to regulate algae growth and keep the water clean. Nonetheless, when it comes to big pools it’s often better to be proactive rather than reactive.

If you need to clear your pool or fountain, make sure you understand the extent of the algae growth. Pushing Daisies is a blog that provides practical and useful tips on gardenia. Follow us for more tips and tricks that will give you the best-looking garden in your neighborhood.

How To Protect Shrubs From Winter Damage

When the cold weather arrives along with ice, wind, sleet or snow, one should ensure that the shrubs are protected from it through winter gardening precautions. Winter is definitely not for shrubs because it damages the roots and branches of the shrubs or resulting in desiccation of the foliage and sunscald if one is not careful. In addition to the havoc unleashed by the winter temperature, sun and wind, the shrubs face the dangers of being eaten by deer and small animals like rodents and rabbits that look for food during this time.

If you want to protect your shrubs then the very first thing that you need to do is to use a hardware cloth featuring the ¼ inch mesh. Simply use this to create a cylinder around plants that are more vulnerable to attacks. The cylinder plays the role of a protective barrier against animals. Some examples of plants that need such protection would be blueberry, shrub roses, barberry, etc.

It is also necessary to protect the shrubs against sunscald caused by the harsh winter sun. To do this, one should wrap its trunk with a protective material such as corrugated paper (in light color so that it doesn’t absorb heat), burlap and so on. By wrapping the bark or the trunk, the shrub would be guarded from extreme temperature variations. This works best for shrubs with thin barks.

If you want to protect your precious shrubs against cold temperatures, which is inevitable in winters, then you should ensure that it is provided with adequate water to hydrate itself. During winters, if the ground is frozen then the roots of the shrubs wouldn’t be able to pull up water and its leaves would turn brown and wither away. Thus, adequate watering is necessary.

When it comes to winter gardening, it is also necessary to protect one’s shrubs from winter burn. To prevent winter damage one can use anti-desiccants, which are highly recommended by horticulturists. Landscape fabric such as canvas, burlap, etc can also be used as a wind barrier. Simply place these on the wind-facing sides of the plant and secure by driving wooden stakes into the ground. Never use plastic as it can trap heat and kill the shrubs.
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