Winterizing Your Garden For Winter Wildlife

459617923Most animals are looking for reliable sources of water, high-energy foods, and places to take cover from winter weather and predators. Your winter garden can provide these needed habitat elements for such animals to stay active and healthy all winter. Here are a few ways that you can apply in winterizing your garden for the winter wildlife:

Provide Food

The best way to provide winter food for animals during winter is to plant vegetation that can produce nuts, seeds, and berries. Berry-producing shrubs and other small trees that produce fruits are great food sources for birds and other mammal species.

Place Bird Feeders

Bird feeders see the most activity in winter when food is scarce. Place feeders at strategic places where they will be protect from the wind and where you and your family will have easy viewing. Feeders will not only provide food for the birds, but for squirrel, mice, and other predators like owl and foxes that feed on small seed-eating animals.

Create a Brush Pile

By collecting yard debris like twigs, fallen branches, and leaves, you can create a cover for birds, and other small animals such as rabbits. You will also create hibernation places for insects, box turtles, and salamanders. Fallen leaves and branches can also be used for mulching to protect roots from freezing temperatures.

Provide Water

Water can be scarce for wildlife animals in winter as most of their natural sources are frozen. Keeping your birdbath clean and ice-free will help birds and other animals survive the winter. Heated birdbaths are even better as they keep water warm enough to keep the animals from freezing.

Create a secure Cover for animals

Planting evergreens such as fir, spruce, and cedar can provide vital cover for songbirds and other small mammals. Dead trees that don’t pose hazards to your family can also be left standing to provide safe cavities for raccoons, flying squirrels, and many other wildlife species. You can also install roosting boxes.

If you are avid backyard wildlife watcher, winter is the right time to brush up your identification skills. We provide resourceful ideas and tips on gardening. Follow us for more articles that keep your garden looking great.

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Using Fireplace Ashes In Your Garden

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Wood ash has been acknowledged as a great addition to the soil. In fact, in the 18th century, wood ash was to Britain to be used as fertilizer. Today, 80 percent of ash manufactured in Northeastern states is applied in farmlands. So how does wood ash benefit your garden?

Well, there are myriad benefits that you stand to gain when you use fireplace ashes for gardening, including but not limited to:

• Wood ash is derived from plants hence contains most of the 13 essential nutrients that the soil must have for a healthy plant growth

• Nitrogen and sulfur gases are expelled when wood burns, leaving calcium, magnesium potassium, and other trace elements which are all essential for your crops. Calcium is essential for root development, protein formation, and strong cell wall formations while potassium is a vital catalyst in photosynthesis process and is very significant for seed formation, protein synthesis, and movement of sugars.

• The remaining oxides and carbonates when wood burns are significant in raising pH and can neutralize acidic soils.

• Wood ash has fine particles and reacts rapidly and completely in the soil.

• Wood ash can repel insects, bugs, and snails as it draws water out these invertebrates.

Precautions to Take When Using Wood Ash in Your Garden

For good results, there are certain factors that you should remember when using wood ash in your garden, including:

• Acidic soils that are low in potassium can significantly benefit from wood ash. However, plants that love acidic conditions such as azaleas, blueberries, rhododendrons, and cranberries will never do well if you apply wood ash.

• Never apply wood ash in areas where potatoes will be planted as it promotes potato scab.

• Too much ash can increase the soil pH or accumulate higher salt levels that can be harmful to certain plants; so it should be used carefully.

• Wood ash should be stored in secure metal containers with lids to prevent accidental fires from live coals. This will also prevent water from flowing and leaching out the valuable nutrients before you apply it to your garden.

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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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Some Simple And Quick Gardening Tips

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Gardening is a lot of fun but it can be challenging, too. Thankfully, there are some simple, yet effective ways to overcome common gardening problems and issues. Following are some gardening tips and tricks that can simplify your gardening and make it easier and more effective than ever before.

Maintaining Plant Pots

Clean your plant pots with a mix of equal parts of white vinegar, alcohol and water to remove any salt deposits.

Feeding the Plants

Instead of using expensive commercial fertilizer on your plants, save the water from boiled or steamed vegetables and use it instead (after allowing the water to completely cool down).

If your plants need acidic soil to grow well, sprinkle some used coffee grounds and/or pour some leftover tea on the dirt on a monthly basis.

Keep Fingernails Clean While Gardening

While it is possible to scrub dirt out from under your fingernails after gardening, it isn’t always easy. You can avoid the hassle by running your fingernails over a bar of soap before you go into the garden. The soap under your fingernails will prevent dirt from getting under them and make it easier for you to clean your hands afterwards.

Protecting the Plants

To protect your small plants from an overnight freeze, invest in some inexpensive plant pots and turn these over on top of the plants you wish to protect.

To protect your plants from aphids, cut a strip of tape and gently press it on the underside of affected leaves. This method of aphid elimination is particularly effective when used on small, delicate plants that cannot handle a strong blast of water from the hose.

Fungus problems can be quickly and easily eliminated using chamomile tea. The tea, after it has been cooled, can either be poured on the soil around the plant or put in a spray bottle and sprayed on the plant’s leaves and stem.

Natural Plant Labels

If you want to make natural, durable labels for different areas of your garden, get some flat, smooth rocks and write the names of different plants on the rocks with a permanent marker.

These tips can be applied to just about any type of garden. Try out the above-mentioned pointers and see which ones work best for you.

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Spring Bulbs Need Consistent Tender Loving Care

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Flowers that grow from bulbs are one of the first signs of spring, pushing their sturdy green leaves through the ground as soon as a thaw occurs and the days get a little longer. Although inexperienced gardeners may worry about the health of bulbs that flower during unexpected warm spells, most bulbs are hardy enough to withstand a freeze as long as their stems are not broken during the process.

Despite the hardiness of most spring bulbs, you simply can’t plant them in the ground and then forget them. Even when they are not blooming, bulbs need a modicum of tender loving care to ensure that they will produce even better flowers in subsequent years. Pushing Daisies Gardening Blog has the following suggestions to make your bulb garden the envy of the neighborhood.

Remove Spent Flowers

Take off blooms from tulips, daffodils and other large flowers as soon as they fade. By doing so, you will help the plant to transfer its energy into forming larger bulbs instead of setting seeds. Smaller bulbs such as muscari and puschkinia need to set seed and self-sow, allowing them to form larger stands of flowers.

Keep Green Foliage Intact

Resist the temptation to remove green foliage after the blooms are spent. Keeping the leaves intact allows them to nourish the bulb and ultimately the following year’s blooms, which actually form during the summer. Don’t cut or pull off leaves until they are yellow. Neither should you braid leaves as this technique reduces the amount of sunlight absorbed by the leaves and hinders growth. Mowing leaves of flowers such as crocuses and snowdrops that have been naturalized in a lawn is okay if you wait at least six weeks after they have bloomed.

Don’t Forget Fertilizer

Spring bulbs need fertilizer, but you need to know when to apply it. When initially planting bulbs, work in rock phosphate or superphosphate into the bottom of holes. Avoid bonemeal if digging animals are a problem in your area. Use a balanced fertilizer in early spring when shoots emerge and again after flowing to boost foliage and bulb growth.

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Perennials That Do Well In Dry Shade

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Dry shade can pose some monumental challenges in gardening. However, if you can be able to pick out the right plans, there is no reason why you shouldn’t make your garden thrive even in the toughest conditions. First of all, you have to add some organic matter to the soil including compost as this improves the soil’s ability to retain water. The following are some of the main perennials that will do very well in dry shade:

Ajuga

Ajuga is one of the most common perennial that comes with amazing flowers and foliage. There are a lot of varieties and you can easily find them in your local gardening store. Although Ajuga can easily be able to tolerate dark shade, it often does so well in moist and well drained soil. However, you can still do with it, especially if your soil is amended with compost. Additionally, make sure you water the perennials significantly during the first two years.

Cushion Spurge

Ideally, cushion spurge is grown under the sun but can still tolerate a shade, especially in areas that experience very hot summers. Cushion spurge often bursts into bloom in spring and produces very beautiful tiny flowers. The perennial is very tolerant and will often do well in very dry soil than it would probably do in a moist soil.

Foam Flower

Foam flower is a beautiful native North American plant that when fully grown forms a very dense mat of quality foliage. The plant often blooms in spring producing a delightful series of pink flowers. Foam flowers will tolerate dry conditions albeit they will spread slowly compared to when the soil is relatively moist.

Bigroot Geranium

The plan is actually one of the best perennials that can do well in dry conditions. However, there are not many varieties available and you should always take your time to pick the perfect variety. The plant will often hold up well in dry soil rich in organic matter but performs even better in moist soil conditions.

Dry shade can be a challenge in gardening but there are still a number of plants that can do well in these dry conditions.

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Use These Tips To Become A Better Gardener

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People grow their own vegetables, fruits, and flowers in backyards, pots on windowsills and rooftops, or even community gardens. For anyone who wants to become a better gardener, there is no better time to start than now. Interestingly, over the last few growing seasons, a huge number of people have taken up gardening for the first time. However, gardening can be intimidating.

When most aspiring gardeners look at pictures of organized, beautiful, well–appointed gardens in magazines and books, they tend to get a false perspective of what is expected of them and what is achievable as beginners. The tips outlined in this article can place aspiring gardeners in a much better position for growing a stunning garden. However, these are just a few ideas. The Pushing Daisies: Gardening Blog has more gardening tips that can help people transform their gardens into visual showpieces.

Some of the qualities of a good gardener include:
• Experience
• Persistence and consistency
• Observation and adaptation
• Ability to handle and learn from failures

Nature never throws anything away. Similarly, a wannabe gardener should learn how to use everything in his/her disposal to enhance his garden. This is where learning how to make compost comes in handy for those with some garden space. One can start out with garden, yard, and kitchen waste and come up with two benefits:
• Green points for avoiding the landfill
• A great soil amendment

It is important to spread compost around plants to prevent disease. One should put a small amount in the potting mix to add micro-nutrients to the mix. One can also top–dress beds with it to enhance the structure of the soil, no matter the type of soil one has. Compost restores life to soil that is exhausted from many years of chemical abuse.

Keeping plants grouped in beds that are not trod upon conserves water, cuts down on weeding, and allows the compost to be concentrated where it is most needed. Neatness aside, the virtue of planting crops in wide beds is easier path maintenance.

A good gardener must also understand the benefits of mulching and feeding the soil, as opposed to feeding the plants. There is an old Chinese proverb that states that, the best fertilizer, or manure, is the gardener’s shadow. Thus, to become a better gardener, one must observe, scrutinize, monitor, and take signals from his/her plants if things are not as they should be.

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