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Archive for the ‘garden’ tag

March 27th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Spring Gardening Preparation



If you like to garden, or want to start one, now’s the time to get ready for planting! (Did we mention that April is National Gardening Month?) As the ground thaws, soil needs to be prepared in order to create the best growing medium for your plants. Different types of plants require different kinds of care, including the timing of their planting, exposure to sunlight, supplemented nutrition, watering, spacing, and harvesting. Get your kids involved and let them help you however they can. Here are some basic guidelines for starting your spring planting.

  1. Determine your frost date. If you live in an area where you get a true winter, it’s important that you know your area’s frost date to avoid planting too soon. There are quite a few online resources to help you figure it out. Try Dave’s Garden…you just put in your zip code and it tells you your frost risks and timing.
  2. Choose your plants. Gather your bulbs and seeds and determine which ones need to be planted first. Some plants can survive colder temperatures.
  3. Section your garden. Plants should be grouped by type and care. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, etc. should have their own sections. Keep their “requirements” in mind when you create your sections…some need lots of direct sunlight, while others thrive in shady spots.
  4. Test your soil. You should first make sure the soil is ready to be prepared. Heavy soil that is still wet from snow and rain will not let your plants breathe. You can tell it’s ready when you pick it up, squeeze it into a ball with your hands, and then drop it, or poke it. If it crumbles into small particles, it is dry enough to be worked. If it breaks into large clumps or stays in form, it is still too moist. Not all soil is equal, so learning a bit about your native soil will help you understand when it’s ready.
  5. Prepare your soil. There are a lot of things you can do to improve the medium your plants grow in. Without going into too much detail, consider looking into the various soil-improvement methods, including pH testing, composting, fertilizing, tilling, mulching, etc. Hint: Used coffee grounds and egg shells make great fertilizers!
  6. Plant! When your soil is ready, plant your seeds and bulbs, take care of them and watch them grow! Garden maintenance can be tedious, but rewarding. Make sure you water and fertilize as needed, and don’t forget to pick those pesky weeds!

Do you have a garden and have tips to share? Post them and/or pictures of your garden on our Facebook page!


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April 10th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Starting a Garden


Last week, we gave you some great tips on getting your children started on their very own garden. This week, I’d like to focus more on your own cultivations. Gardening is not only a great an inexpensive way to grow delicious vegetables or make your yard look gorgeous with colorful flowers and shrubs; beautifying your home will make you feel better on the inside.  Here are a few tips for making a beautiful backyard oasis:

Make sure your soil is adequately fertilized!  Instead of buying fertilizer, you can take a trip to the local grocery store! Believe it or not, eggshells can provide soil with the nutrients they need to grow healthy plants.  You can either gather the broken eggshells and grind them into a powder or just put the shells directly on the soil.

Remove any large stones from the soil that will impede the growth of your plants or vegetables.

Decide what you want to grow! Burpee sells more varieties of seeds than I had ever imagined and I get gratifying results. My favorite seeds to plant at this time of year are basil, tomatoes, carrots and broccoli. As for flowers, now is the time to plant annuals. You can either buy the seeds or go to your local nursery for the actual flowers and plant them right into the ground!

Make sure you read the instructions on the back of the package of seeds you buy to determine how deep they must be planted.

Be sure to plant your seeds in an area where they will get direct sunlight. If it’s not raining a lot in your area, you will need to be diligent about providing your plants with adequate water. The higher the temperature, the more water you will need.

Plants need TLC just as humans and animals do. If you follow these steps, you will soon be watching plants and vegetables sprout from the ground and you can enjoy your beautiful new garden!  Happy planting!

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September 7th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Hummingbirds and Hurricanes

I was checking in with some east-coast relatives the day after Hurricane Irene hit, and my cousin mentioned that she was surprised to see a hummingbird in her yard so soon after the storm. Then I saw this stunning video, where swarms of hummingbirds visited a feeder in a Virginia backyard in the wake of Irene.

Hummingbirds are pretty amazing creatures. They are the smallest birds in the world and can flap their wings 60-80 times per second (200 times per second during courtship). They are also the only birds that can fly forwards, backwards, up, down and sideways, as well as hover in mid air—a skill any mom would love to have. The smallest, the Bee Hummingbird, weighs only 2.2 grams (less than a dime), and the largest, the Giant Hummingbird, weighs about 10 times that much (still less than an ounce).

Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism rate of any creature, and eat 2-3 times their weight every day—another trick I’d like to adapt. Tapered bills and grooved tongues help them lap up nectar from flowers.

In addition to being fascinating to watch, hummingbirds are great pollinators, another reason you want to attract them to your garden. Putting up a hummingbird feeder is one way to lure them to your yard, but be sure you buy one that discourages pests and bees. Keeping up with your feeder by cleaning it regularly and replacing the sugar mixture is vital for the safety of the birds you’re trying to feed. Here are some good tips on choosing and maintaining a hummingbird feeder.

Planting a hummingbird-friendly garden is an even more fun way to bring the birds home. Hummingbirds are attracted to vibrant colors, especially reds and bright pinks. There is still plenty of time before winter sets in to plant some garden perennials that hummingbirds will look for when they bloom next spring and summer. Columbine, Bee Balm and Foxglove are just a few perennial hummingbird favorites. They particularly like trumpet-shaped flowers.

Hummingbirds are found only in the Western Hemisphere, and while more than 300 species have been identified, only 26 are in North America. Of those, only five are commonly seen, and east of the Mississippi, you’re most likely spot the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Check this list for species seen in your state.

Hummingbirds migrate south for the winter and for much of the US, the season is coming to an end. Texas, Mississippi and Alabama will be celebrating their hummingbird migration festivals in September and October, so keep your eyes open.


Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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