10 Ways to Keep Your Garden Healthy

One of the most mystifying things that can happen in your garden is when a plant gets a disease. How did it happen? Will it spread? Will all my plants die? How can I get rid of it? The most important thing to understand about disease prevention is something called the disease triangle (drawing, right). Disease can only happen when three things coincide: you have a plant that can get sick (a host), a pathogen (like a fungus, bacterium, or virus) that can attack the plant, and environmental conditions (like humidity or drought) that promote the disease. If any one of these things is not present, the disease will not happen, so prevention involves knocking out at least one side of the triangle. Rather than waiting for a problem to pop up in your garden, consider the best defense against disease to be a good offense. What follows are 10 ways you can eliminate at least one side of the disease triangle and keep your plants healthy.

1. Examine plants carefully before buying

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Preserve Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs

In midwinter, there’s nothing like a little taste of summer. Preserve some of this year’s harvest of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It requires a little effort, but you’ll be glad you did when you dig into that homemade marinara sauce some snowy day. Preservation is simple and inexpensive; plus you get even more bragging rights when someone compliments your cooking.

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Canning, Freezing and Drying Garden Produce

The preservation of food is not a new idea. In fact, cold storage in a root cellar was one of the first methods of preserving and overwintering produce. All that was needed was a cool, dark area with some humidity and air circulation to prevent the harvest from shriveling, spoiling, or sprouting.

Some more modern preservation methods are:

Canning follows pretty straightforward guidelines. It requires more effort and equipment, but the results are almost foolproof if you follow the instructions carefully. Tomatoes and beans are two summer crops that be canned very successfully. Jellies, jams, and preserves are perfect for using extra fruit, but don’t think jellies are only good for PB&J sandwiches. Jellied herbs and garlic make excellent condiments

Create a Container Garden

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Planting in Containers

Planting in containers has several advantages. Containers allow you to:

  • Use your landscape space more efficiently. Containers can be spaced closer than plants in the ground, allowing you to create a lot of impact with less space and expense. Containers may be grouped for intensified fragrance.
  • Have a portable garden. Use them indoors or out. Move them to the patio for your garden party. Move them for protection from extreme weather. Plants can also be rotated so you can showcase what’s in bloom. Rotate them to the background as blooms fade.
  • Control the soil quality. Your plants have quality soil to thrive in. Use containers in areas with poor soil or poor drainage. Eliminate competition from other plants and reduce accessibility to many pests.
  • Increase access to the gardener. Containers can be worked in with less stooping and bending.
  • Spray and fertilize more efficiently.
  • Isolate for treatment of pest or disease.

Types of Containers

Theoretically at least, anything that holds soil can be used as a container. The category covers everything from plain,

Gardening key to helping cancer survivors heal emotionally and physically

In an effort to determine the role between gardening and the health of cancer survivors, experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) studied both survivors and gardeners, pairing them together and noting the outcomes. (1)

The study, Harvest for Health, concluded that cancer survivors who became involved in gardening were more inclined to eat the fresh foods that were grown in the garden, while also obtaining more physical activity and developing an improved outlook on life. All of these factors play a role in helping those stricken with cancer heal.

Fresh vegetables are important for cancer survivor self-care

Among the top suggestions for cancer survivor self-care, according to the Mayo Clinic, is exercise. (2) The Clinic explains that physical activity reduces anxiety and fatigue, which is common in such individuals, while also improves endurance and self-esteem. Furthermore, the Clinic advises eating a balanced diet that contains “five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.”

The National Cancer Institute suggests that cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, contain compounds known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (3)

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D., the associate director for

Enjoy an Underwater garden, Right in Your Own Livingroom

Can you imagine it? A tropical paradise, lush leaves swaying gently in the breeze…er…current. That’s right, a whole world of plants that are very happy living their entire lives under water. Not just green plants either, but a whole plethora of colours and textures. Reds, golds, purples. Short, tall, feathery, fat leaved varieties.

The first thing you will need, of course, is an aquarium. They come in many sizes. 5, 10, 35, 72, 150

gallon. Probably a few in between. You could probably use a goldfish/beta bowl if you want to start small. Very important if you have found a used aquarium, fill it full of water in the bathtub or outside and make sure it does not leak!!

Next you are going to need some gravel. Decorative aquarium gravel is relatively inexpensive and comes in many colours. You will need at least 3 inches. This will be your soil, the growing medium to anchor the plant.

Your plants will need some water circulation. Circulation helps get the nutrients to the plants and good water movement stimulates healthy growth.This can be acomplished by a good old fashioned filter. Hopefully, when you acquired your

Networking for Nutrition

A million pounds of garden fresh produce sounds like an enormous amount of food. To imagine that backyard gardeners across North America might be willing and able to grow and donate that much extra to help address the problem of hunger in their communities seems wildly optimistic, at the very least. However, the members of Garden Writers Association of America (GWAA) who participate in the grassroots program they call Plant A Row for the Hungry felt it could be done. After 3 years of experience with developing and nurturing Plant a Row, or PAR, their unique commitment to address the stubborn, chronic problem of hunger in our nation of plenty, they set the goal of One Million by the Millennium.

And, with significant funding and public service announcements by Home & Garden TV (HGTV), they reached their goal. In fact, by January of 2000 the tally was 1,051,000 pounds of food collected and contributed to food assistance programs across the US and Canada. It happened because of publicity campaigns in 44 states plus Canada, spearheaded by garden communicators–newspaper columnists, TV and radio personalities–who ignited the interest of their audiences in the PAR program. PAR program director,

Gardening in an Unpredictable Climate

Climate change is putting more and more stress on world ecosystems. As gardeners, we face these challenges daily as we struggle to adapt to unpredictable weather patterns and changing seasons.

Climate change is affecting every region of the world a little differently. Some areas are getting hotter and drier, others warmer and wetter. Changing rainfall patterns mean that gardeners can no longer depend on the seasonal showers we depend on. Instead, those rains could come down with enough force to wipe out not only our gardens but our homes.

As growing seasons lengthen and cold seasons grow shorter, gardeners will have more time to plant. On the surface, this might look like a good thing. However, changing seasons and shifting hardiness zones come with their own set of challenges.

Sustainable agriculture groups are spending a lot of time and energy researching the ways in which our farms and gardens can adapt to these challenges. Here are some of their suggestions.
Embrace New Varieties And Diversify

One of the ways we can mitigate the impacts of climate change in gardening is embracing new varieties. Unfortunately, this might mean saying goodbye to old favorites in

Thai Caladiums – Will they rock the Caladium world

For those of us who fancy Caladiums, and who are accustomed to the types we see in the big box stores, seeing a plant like the one pictured at right is sure to make one’s eyes pop out of their sockets! Having grown this plant firsthand, I can state with certainty that the picture doesn’t do the plant justice. The red color is incredibly intense and it is made even more so by the shiny leaf surface. This particular characteristic is amazingly unlike the Caladiums we all know and love. As a hybridizer myself, I’d love to know what parent(s) the Thai breeders used to come up with this plant and others like it. Until I saw this one, I had never seen a Caladium with a shiny leaf before.

Of course, not all of the new Thai Caladiums sport shiny leaves; as most of them have leaf textures that more closely approximate the kind of Caladium leaves that we are used to. However, one characteristic that these Thai plants do have in common, and which the regular Caladium plants do not have, is a thicker or heavier leaf substance. So far, most of the Thai varieties

Watering African Violets 101 Different Strokes for Different Folks

With any watering method, keep in mind that African violets hate “wet feet.” Letting the soil go dry for a few days every so often will help keep the roots healthy. Too much water and too little water can produce the same symptoms – a wilted looking plant with drooping leaves. Until you figure out what works for your plants, you’ll want to pay close attention to moisture levels.

Top Watering is what we’re most familiar with, when we water our houseplants. African violets don’t mind being watered from the top. Contrary to popular advice, they also don’t mind getting their leaves wet. Leaves that stay wet, however, are another story. Water sitting on leaves can cause spots from sun or cold damage. Wet crowns can lead to rot. If they do get wet, blot the water from the leaves and crown with a paper towel. Condiment style squirt bottles can help you water without wetting the leaves.

Bottom Watering simply means watering the pot from the bottom. The potting mix soaks up moisture through the drainage holes in the

Master Gardeners, Who they are, What they do

Since being certified as a Master Gardener in 1997 I’ve met hundreds of gardeners, many of them Master Gardeners so I think I have a pretty good idea of what exactly makes these folks “tick”.

Here on DG and elsewhere I’ve heard folks refer to Master Gardeners as “know it alls”, “uppity”, “they talk down to me”, “ they think they are better than me”, and so forth. I want to proclaim that these statements couldn’t be farther from the truth. Needless to say as in any national organization there are a few bad apples. The majority of Master Gardeners are friendly, generous, helpful and passionate about gardening.

We never stop learning, and believe me we don’t think we know more than anyone else about horticulture.

I want to familiarize you with the program and what a MG does to receive that title and how they use the knowledge gleaned to aid their community.

The Master Gardener program was started back in the 1970’s; it was established to aid the local extension offices to serve the public in the area of horticulture.

All of the 50 states have Master Gardener programs and they are organized

One Technique for Painting Succulents with Watercolors

This article is an introduction on how to do some watercolor paintings of some of the simpler succulents (Aloes, Agaves etc.).Some painting tips will be mentioned and some sample paintings will be shown as they develop from the start to finish.

To me painting is no substitute for photography, either in terms of accuracy, or even color or form. But sometimes painting can add things impossible to create with simple photography. And though photographs themselves can certainly be art, there is something satisfyingly ‘artistic’ about making a painting of a plant, even if it’s directly from a photograph, no matter how formulaic this might sound. One can add a lot or take away a lot from the original image by painting, exaggerate or alter the colors, blur or simplify the background, simplify or alter the form, add objects (I usually add lizards) and basically change a ‘factual’ photograph into one’s own interpretation of the ‘facts’. Paintings do not have to be accurate, or even duplicate reality in the least. In fact, one has nearly infinite freedom when painting. But in this article I use traced images to simplify the process, speed things up a great deal and

How to grow your favourite flowering houseplants

There was a time when houses large and small belonging to garden fanciers sported a succession of home-grown indoor plants all year round. From the smallest succulent to the mightiest tree fern, an older generation of gardeners always made time and space for plants that did well in the house. This is much less likely to be the case nowadays. The sad truth is that many of us appear to have dismissed the idea that it is possible to grow plants for the house easily and well. As with alpines, there seems to be a belief that specimen houseplants are old hat and difficult to grow. I also think that gardeners have lost their skills – and with it their nerve: we worry that we are more likely to kill a cymbidium orchid, say, than be able to guide it through successive years of abundant flowering.

Gardening habits and trends have changed over the decades: since evergreens such as ficus, monstera and dieffenbachia rampaged through the homes and offices of the Seventies and Eighties, old-fashioned flowering houseplants have been left reeling. The low maintenance aspect of these

Garden Fencing That Will Established Your Garden best to Others

Picket secure fencing can vary tall. If you have a number of flowers that happen to be tall, including tulips as well as black-eyed susans, you might want to have a low picketer fence to ensure the flowers are easily seen. On the flip side, if you have plants and flowers of differing heights, think about installing a 3 foot high fence which has a gate. Keep the gateway partially available so passer-bys can hook a peek of your backyard. Picket secure fencing is usually created wood that is painted white-colored or vinyl. If you’re looking to get some privacy in your backyard area, subsequently consider choosing vinyl secure fencing. These walls ranged with four your feet to half a dozen feet upright. Each board consists of half a dozen or more content. Usually you will have choice of round, squared as well as pointed post tops. Softtop fencing is the best well in a large number of kinds of climate. If your backyard contains a compact pond or simply a water water fountain, then this may be a good choice. It will decrease animals as well as small children with entering the backyard. Trellis secure fencing is

What a Landscape Contractor can do for Your Home

While it may not seem like there’s any technical expertise that goes into landscaping, you’d be amazed at what these professionals can do for your home. From a comprehensive plan for your flowers, shrubs, and trees to stunning stone and brick features including landscaping walls, walkways, and steps; from an automated sprinkler system, pond, waterfall, or pool to a professional outdoor lighting plan that will illuminate your home’s best nighttime features, a landscape contractor is the person to call to change your home and your home life. But to get the best and most cost-effective results, you need to know a little bit about landscape design and your options for choosing a contractor. Landscape Contractors, Landscape Architects, and Design/Build Firms Landscape contractors can fit into a few different molds. A landscape architect, for example, is an individual that designs your landscape and has extensive knowledge of plant life, land surveying, lawn drainage, and a great eye for landscape design and aesthetics in general. Many professional landscaping companies have at least one landscape architect on staff, in addition to an army of landscape workers. These all-inclusive landscaping companies are also known as design/build firms. Meanwhile, you can also find

Great Gardeners Use Seed – Everything Old Is New Again

The National Garden Bureau launches a campaign to revitalize the ease and pleasure of growing from seed. This logo will be used to identify educational information on gardening from seed or bedding plants from seed. National Garden Bureau members will encourage the art and craft of gardening with seed using the Great Gardeners Use Seed™ logo. This is a commitment to reach teachers, youth, and adults teaching the benefits of gardening with seed and plants from seed. Founded in 1920, the Bureau’s original mission was to disseminate basic instructions for backyard gardening. In the 21st century, the Bureau has published Today’s Garden and the “Year of” fact sheets and offered the same valuable gardening advice on the website, www.ngb.org In addition to general public education, the Bureau has sponsored programs that teach youth science with the use of garden-based activities. The Bureau acknowledges that previous generations were taught to garden by their parents, grandparents, or other family members. Millions of children and older youth have not had the opportunity to sow a seed and nurture the plant grown from seed. Garden-based activities – the GrowLab® Program Over 50 GrowLabs have been donated to teachers for classroom use. A

Spruce Up the Look of Your Outdoor Property by Getting Garden Water Features

A beautifully and well-designed outdoor area can spruce up the whole look of a property. Be it a big, small, residential or corporate property, it makes the whole place look pleasurable and relaxed. Garden is that place of the property where people like to get together and spend some quality and quiet time with their friends and relatives. Peaceful sound of water flow, fragrance of beautifully blossomed flowers can contributes in maintaining the ambience of the house. But even with these, the look of your garden might seem incomplete which you can balance by getting intricately designed water features.

Finely structured, these water features comes in distinctive style and adds aesthetic value to your premises. In various cultures across the world, garden designing can be witnessed. This adds some natural beauty and eliminates abrasive noises and other disturbing sounds that keeps occurring the environment around. Therefore once incorporated, garden water feature brings calmness and tranquillity and also transforms the garden into a different space altogether. While getting a feature installed in your garden or any kind of property, there are number of things that need to be considered. There are number of styles of garden fountains and

Garden Ponds and Garden Waterfalls

One of the home improvement projects a homeowner rarely has to be sold on is improving their backyard. Most homeowners realize that with the right landscaping and patio their backyard can be an additional living space. In fact, during summer evenings and spring and fall afternoons, your backyard may very well be preferable to spending your leisure time cooped up inside your home. One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when looking into improving their backyard is to convince themselves certain installations are out of their price range without even getting quotes. Small and moderately designed garden ponds and waterfalls, for example, are rarely as expensive as many homeowners imagine. Garden Pond Liners The biggest decision you’ll most likely need to make is what material your pond liner will be. More permanent garden pond liners include concrete and fiberglass. More flexible pond liners are generally made from a variety of different plastic products. Permanent garden ponds aren’t strictly permanent, but if they’re well-built, a fiberglass liner should last 50 years or more, while concrete may last even longer in the absence of extreme freeze/thaw cycles. Concrete has the slight disadvantage of possibly leaking toxins that can affect

Use these water-saving gardening techniques to survive a “mega-drought”

Whether or not you believe in man-made climate change, one thing is indisputable: that the Southwestern United States are experiencing a record-breaking drought that has lasted for around 14 years. This particular drought has the potential of becoming what is termed a “megadrought” — one which lasts more than two decades.

But even if you don’t live in one of the drought-affected areas, water conservation is still important. As the population increases, so does the demand on our water resources, and there is simply no excuse for wasting this precious commodity which is so vital to our very existence.

So in this article I’d like to give you some tips for drought gardening techniques and also some general methods of reducing water waste. Even if you have no water restrictions in your area, you’ll save money and help the environment by incorporating these in your landscaping and gardening routine.

You’ve probably heard the term “xeriscaping,” which doesn’t necessarily mean replacing your lawn and garden with cacti and rocks. Xeriscaping merely means employing techniques that reduce water waste and overall usage.

Here are a few useful water conservation tips that you can begin using right now, no matter where you live:

Early morning and

Till and Cultivate Your Garden

Cultivators and Tillers

Both cultivators and tillers dig into the ground. Choosing one over the other depends on the size and type of planting area you need to prepare. Cultivators work well in existing planting areas for weeding, loosening the soil and working in amendments. Tillers are more powerful machines that are better for larger areas. Some tillers are designed for breaking new ground to create new planting beds.

For more information on choosing the right machine for your planting project, see our Cultivator and Tiller Buying Guide.

Tilling for Best Results

Good soil allows roots to quickly develop and spread, which in turn increases the water and nutrient intake necessary for healthy and productive plants. A tiller or cultivator makes quick work of what could be a strenuous task if done by hand.

Fall Tilling

Improving the soil is best done in the fall. Tilling in soil amendments at that time allows them to settle in and break down over the winter. When spring arrives, the garden is ready for a new crop.

Tilling a New Garden

You can successfully till the soil for a new garden once it warms up in the spring as long

Repair Bare Spots in Your Lawn

Causes of Bare Spots in the Lawn

Bare spots in your lawn can be the result of heavy foot traffic (causing soil compaction), drought, disease, chemical burn and weed or insect infestation. Before beginning repairs, you need to determine the source of your problem. This will help you prevent it from continuing.

If heavy foot traffic is the cause, look for a way to keep traffic off of that area. This may include installing stepping stones, a gravel pathway or a barrier that would reroute traffic and protect that area of your lawn.

If insects or disease are the cause, determine the specific cause. Most treatments will need to be applied and allowed to work before you can grow new grass. The treatment product instructions will tell you how long to wait before sowing new seed.

Grass Planting Options and Methods

Once you have addressed the cause of the bare spots, it’s time to repair the damage. In most areas, the best solution is to replant the bare spot with new grass. There are several options:

  • You can apply grass seed and fertilizer separately. Spread straw as a mulch after planting the grass seed

Grow Herbs in Your Garden

Types of Herbs

Herbs bring a lot of value to the home garden. Most are easy to grow, asking only for sunshine and well-drained soil. Some herbs are annuals. Other perennial varieties stay vibrant and productive for years. They work great as container plants, grown alone or mixed with other plants. The contrasting leaf shapes, textures, colors and sizes make herbs excellent ornamental plants. On the practical side, most herbs are drought-tolerant, making them great candidates for xeriscapes or rock gardens. Depending on the plant, the usable parts include roots, stems, bark, leaves, fruit, seeds and oils. There are hundreds of plants that are considered herbs. Here are just a few of the better-known members of the family.

Basil (Ocimum varieties), a culinary favorite, especially for those who consider pesto a basic food group. Grown as an annual, basil’s many varieties can have big or small leaves, upright or mounding form, and green or purple foliage. Basil likes the heat of summer. Keep the flower buds pinched back for maximum leaf production. Height is around 2-ft

Bay (Laurus nobilis) is another kitchen standard sometimes known as “bay tree.” Reaching 50-ft in tree form, 10-ft is