Caring for Your Flower Garden

Tiny white flowers against the trunk of a cherry tree

Knowing how to care for your flower garden can make a big difference in the look and over-all health of your plants. Here are some simple hints to make your garden bloom with health.

1. The essentials must always be given major consideration

Your flower garden must have an adequate supply of water, sunlight, and fertile soil. Any lack of these basic necessities will greatly affect the health of plants. Water the flower garden more frequently during dry spells.

Blooming Tulips When planting bulbs, make sure they go at the correct depth. When planting shrubs and perennials, make sure that you don’t heap soil or mulch up around the base of the plant, 2 to 3 inches is sufficient.

Water well, but avoid standing water as this could damage the shrub or perennial. Standing water around the base of trees and shrubs will rot the trunk.

2. Mix and match perennials with annuals

Perennial flower bulbs need not to be replanted since they grow and bloom for several years while annuals grow and bloom for only one season. Mixing a few perennials with annuals ensures that you will always have blooming flowers in your garden.

3. Deadhead to encourage more blossoms

Deadheading is simply snipping off the flower head after it wilts. This will help the plant produce more flowers. Leaving the wilted flowers on the plant will cause the plant to produce seeds over more flowers.

Don’t discard dead debris on the garden floor during growing season or mildew and other plant disease will attack your plants.

4. Know the good from the bad bugs

A butterfly pollinating a Butterfly BushMost garden insects do more good than harm. Butterflies, beetles and bees are known pollinators. They fertilize plants through unintentional transfer of pollen from one plant to another. 80% of flowering plants rely on insects for survival.

Sow bugs and dung beetles together with fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms are necessary to help in the decomposition of dead plant material, thus enriching the soil and making more nutrients available to growing plants.

Other insects like lacewings and dragonflies are natural predators of those insects that do the real damage, like aphis.

An occasional application of liquid fertilizer when plants are flowering will keep them blooming for longer. Organic fertilizers are the best to use, and better for the environment.

5. Some Pruning Tips

potted hanging FuchsiasAlways prune any dead or damaged branches. Fuchsias are particularly prone to snapping when you brush against them. The broken branch can be potted to give you a new plant, so it won’t be wasted.

Blooming Forsythia Blooming Lilac Prune Lilacs and Forsythias after the flowers bloom and fade. Flowers bloom from new growth, and pruning in early Spring will only remove the growth that is prepared to produce buds for flowering.

All the images in this article are just a few from the authors garden from over the past flowering seasons from 2008 till 2013. If you have any questions about flower gardening, leave it in the comment section and I will respond as soon as be possible.

 

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Is It Really Organic and What Does That Mean Anyway?

Is It Really Organic and What Does That Mean Anyway?

Before you go out and buy a bunch of organic foods blindly, let’s really sit down and talk about what organic means.   Is it really organic?

According to Wikipedia organic foods are “Foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such  as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

So organic food leaves out the things I talked about a couple of posts back. Organic foods are void of pesticides and fertilizers. They aren’t irradiated or processed chemically – all important stuff.

However, the word “organic” is not a legal term in the United States, so sometimes it seems quite meaningless. In the United States, the legal term for organic food is “Certified Organic.” Food can be certified by the USDA when it meets certain conditions set out by the National Organic Program (NOP).

National Organic Program

Certified Organic produce must be grown using organic methods without chemical pesticides, genetically modified ingredients or petroleum or sewage-based fertilizers. It also can’t be processed with irradiation or contain prohibitive preservatives.

Certified Organic livestock must not be given antibiotics or growth hormones. They also need to have access to the outdoors.

When it comes to processed Certified Organic foods, 95% of the ingredients must be grown organically to contain the seal. And if a label says it is “made with organic ingredients,” it only needs to be made of 70-95% organic ingredients.

Food that bears this certification seal is generally thought to provide the consumer protection, but it’s not without its critics. Critics are concerned that the regulations deal with the way the food is grown, but offers no guarantee of the quality of the product. There are also reports that the certification standards are lacking and that includes a 2010 report from the Inspector General.

So what does this all mean for the consumer?

1. Products, especially non-food items, can be labeled as organic, but don’t meet the appropriate guidelines. Non-food products are not subject to the Certified Organic standards.

2. The guidelines may not be enforced properly, causing some foods to be labeled as Certified Organic when they really shouldn’t be.

3. Food that is organic may not actually be certified because the grower chooses not to get Do your researchcertified or isn’t able to get certified because they produce less than $5000 in products each year.

What can you do?

Given all these potential problems with organic labeling, it’s natural to wonder if it’s all worth it. The key is to read labels and be aware of word play. Stating things like “made with organic ingredients” is a typical way of making something sound good, when it may not be quite what it seems. Above all, know where your food is coming from, buy locally and do your homework.

Next post click here: Weird-Looking Heirloom Vegetables: Why They’re Important

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