Backyard Wedding Makeovers FREE download eBook

wedding

There’s only 120 days until peak wedding season 2010!  If you’re planning to tie the knot at home, download a copy of my FREE full color eBook Backyard Wedding Makeovers at http://bit.ly/BackyardWedding This easy to apply guide is designed for cash strapped homeowners, renters and gardeners who want to get hitched at home or have the reception there. Plus, it’s equally good for rehabilitating the backyard for a party or special event of any kind. Tips tell you how to disguise eyesores. Find out how to arrange elements for optimal visibility. Discover flowers in keeping with your wedding color scheme so everything is coordinated. And say your vows under a beautiful flower decked arbor for picture perfect wedding photos.

Free Fisherman’s Fertilizer

Another tip from The Summer of Outdoor Living on the Cheap…  Ever wonder where to discard the innards, heads, and tails when cleaning fish? Just bury them in the garden at least 8 inches deep so cat’s won’t be lured by odors. Then allow at least a year of decomposition before you plant in the newly enriched soil. This is a very old idea practiced by Native Americans who farmed the flood plains of the Missouri River. They planted these same leftovers beneath their hills of corn, beans and squash. It’s the original poor woman’s fish emulsion, and best of all, it’s all organic too.

Garden Ivy Beware

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English ivy suffers a most profound duality.  While at once refusing to grow where we want it to, escapees can naturalize to engulf whole landscapes.  This is just one aspect of an insidious spreader that has wrecked havoc unparalleled in the annals of horticulture. Though it is commonly known as English ivy, Hedera helix is actually native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.  It is an evergreen that takes on various forms and behaviors depending on conditions.  On flat land it becomes a groundcover, rooting as it travels to produce dense stands of foliage. This rooting also makes it a first class erosion control plant creating seas of deep green leaves. What makes English ivy so dicey, though, is the fact that it climbs aggressively. This quality led to its long time use of cloaking ugly fences and walls with greenery.  Tendrils grow semiwoody and lined with dense modified roots that cling to any surface they contact.  The roots exude a kind of natural plant glue to help them stick tenaciously.  This substance can invade deep into porous materials such as mortar.  Once attached the runners grow ever larger in diameter.  Very old specimens produce main branches up to one foot in diameter.  Problems with this plant manifest in a variety of ways.  The clinging roots become so anchored in brick or mortar than when removed they take a good deal of the masonry with them.  This can be devastating to older structures when the plants are stripped off for restoration, painting or repair.  Residual bases of the roots can remain attached , leaving an unattractive pattern wherever they grew.  When ivy adheres to wood structures the results can be even more destructive.  The runners can invade gaps between siding boards or stretch into rafters and under roofing materials.  As these eighth inch tendrils grow woody and expand in diameter, they can literally break the structure apart. When ivy climbs into shade trees there can be devastating results.  In gardens or landscapes poorly cared for, ivy grows rampant.  It will root its way up a mature tree seeking light, wrapping its tendrils around the entire trunk.  As it spreads out onto lateral branches, the tree leaves become overwhelmed.  They eventually die out for lack of sun.  Inch by inch ivy denies the tree’s ability to carry on photosynthesis.  When enough of the foliage is compromised, the tree can no longer support itself and dies.  The weight of a severe ivy infestation can make a dead or dying tree so top heavy it becomes a severe weather hazard. Finally there is the environmental damage to consider.  Because all English ivy is imported from the Old World, those plants that have naturalized are dangerous exotics.  It will cloak a forest floor shading out grasses and wildflowers that support wildlife.  Because ivy rarely flowers it offers now direct food value.  Invasiveness has proven most significant along both coasts and selected states in between where the climate and conditions are ideal.  Ivy is a
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Reconcile Your Garden To Climate Change

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Some say we are forever going into or coming out of an ice age.  So whether climate change is just further exit from the last ice age or something else, it means rethinking the way we use water resources.  With population rising we see water availability growing more stressed in areas never before seen as drought stricken.  And if this is the beginning of a nationwide trend, it’s about time we take a more critical look at our home water use.   One source of water waste is trying to force plants to grow where there’s insufficient rainfall to support them naturally.  Another problem is the way we grow plants, such as lawns, which are an unnatural, water and chemical intensive monoculture.   American cities are surrounded by natural wildlands rich in beautiful plants that grow all by themselves.  If we created landscapes from these species rather than needy exotics, we’d have our own little self-sustaining ecosystem.  Better yet, there’d be far fewer weekends spend mowing and manicuring.   To reconcile our homesites to what’s going on in the environment, the first step is to take a look at locally adapted plants.  These include trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, grasses and wildflowers that grow all by themselves within your local climate zone.  When you plant them in your yard they become automatically super-adapted, resisting drought, disease and pests the way nature intended.    Some of the most profound examples of these are the fabulous rhododendrons and azaleas of the Carolina mountains or maple trees of New England.  Coneflowers shine on the Midwestern prairies while iris bloom in the swamps of the deep south.  Blue spruce cloak the Rocky Mountains, silver lupine hugs the slopes of California foothills and saguaro cactus towers over the Arizona desert.    Botanists and horticulturists believe this is the future of the American landscape.  They have banded together to create native plant societies to promote climate conscious landscaping.  The groups are often associated with universities, botanical gardens and arboretums in your community where locally native plants are grown for demonstration, studied and propagated.  These societies also have links to small independent growers who specialize in native plants.  Some are dedicated to particular groups or genera they handle better than anyone else.  In fact, because some of the most spectacular natives never make it into garden centers, these are the only place you’ll find them.   At native plant society web sites you’ll find references to the best books on local natives for their individual states.  That illustrates the real issue here, that native plants are so regionally specific that national books hardly apply at all.  Plus, field guides don’t offer much because they’re designed to tell you how to identify natives in habitat.  The best books to choose direct you to the native plants proven garden worthy.  They won’t be over finicky and adapt to more varied conditions.    Thanks to the New England Wild Flower Society, we have an excellent database of state native plant societies. 
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The Dangerous Duality of Garden Ivy

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English ivy suffers a most profound duality.  While at once refusing to grow where we want it to, escapees can naturalize to engulf whole landscapes.  This is just one aspect of an insidious spreader that has wrecked havoc unparalleled in the annals of horticulture.   Though it is commonly known as English ivy, Hedera helix is actually native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.  It is an evergreen that takes on various forms and behaviors depending on conditions.  On flat land it becomes a groundcover, rooting as it travels to produce dense stands of foliage. This rooting also makes it a first class erosion control plant creating seas of deep green leaves.    What makes English ivy so dicey, though, is the fact that it climbs aggressively. This quality led to its long time use of cloaking ugly fences and walls with greenery.  Tendrils grow semiwoody and lined with dense modified roots that cling to any surface they contact.  The roots exude a kind of natural plant glue to help them stick tenaciously.  This substance can invade deep into porous materials such as mortar.    Once attached the runners grow ever larger in diameter.  Very old specimens produce main branches up to one foot in diameter.              Problems with this plant manifest in a variety of ways.  The clinging roots become so anchored in brick or mortar than when removed they take a good deal of the masonry with them.  This can be devastating to older structures when the plants are stripped off for restoration, painting or repair.  Residual bases of the roots can remain attached , leaving an unattractive pattern wherever they grew.    When ivy adheres to wood structures the results can be even more destructive.  The runners can invade gaps between siding boards or stretch into rafters and under roofing materials.  As these eighth inch tendrils grow woody and expand in diameter, they can literally break the structure apart.  When ivy climbs into shade trees there can be devastating results.  In gardens or landscapes poorly cared for, ivy grows rampant.  It will root its way up a mature tree seeking light, wrapping its tendrils around the entire trunk.  As it spreads out onto lateral branches, the tree leaves become overwhelmed.  They eventually die out for lack of sun.  Inch by inch ivy denies the tree’s ability to carry on photosynthesis.  When enough of the foliage is compromised, the tree can no longer support itself and dies.  The weight of a severe ivy infestation can make a dead or dying tree so top heavy it becomes a severe weather hazard.      Finally there is the environmental damage to consider.  Because all English ivy is imported from the Old World, those plants that have naturalized are dangerous exotics.  It will cloak a forest floor shading out grasses and wildflowers that support wildlife.  Because ivy rarely flowers it offers now direct food value.  Invasiveness has proven most significant along both coasts and selected states in between where the
Read More …

A Germanic Vine Solution for Walls

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Seeing a garden unusually early in the year may cheat you out of its full peak season glory, but there are benefits.  This residence in northern Germany demonstrated a most useful means of training vines to masonry buildings without sacrificing the structure.  On structures that are painted, this system allows the cables to be detached with the main vine runners to repaint or repair.  It’s fully visible early before the vines have fully leafed out. This clematis has been perfectly trained up a dual set of cables attached to the face of the masonry wall.  The verticals end at the top plate then a new set juts off at an angle to follow the roof line.  A close up of the assembly at the base of the wall illustrates heavy lag eye-bolts anchored in the mud sill, in this case it is wood due to the half-timber construction.  It must be very strong to hold the wire tension.  Barrel turnbuckles at the base allow the homeowner to occasionally tighten the tension as cables stretch with vine maturity. Wisteria begun years ago on the same system illustrates how vine trunks cope with the tight cable over time.  Turnbuckles may be loosened as well to accommodate the growing diameter of woody trunks that spiral around the cables.  This proves it is a viable solution over the long term.

Start Garden Kale Early When It’s Cool

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The collard greens of the deep South are among the most nutritious crops you can grow.  They are just one of many members of the cabbage family known as “brassicas”.  Collard is more tolerant of heat than many of these cool weather lovers.  In fact, many of the kale group are staple fare in the northern temperate regions around the globe.  Unlike other greens such as lettuces which are eaten fresh, these kale “pot greens” are typically stir fried or stewed before eating.    Curly leaf kale can be a real producer in spring and summer.  Its leaves are fast growing and thrive in cool springs like this year.  While heat loving crops will be struggling to start up, greens are the staples that kept folks alive and fed during the difficult weather years of the Middle Ages.  It is said that repeated crop failures in Europe set civilization back many centuries.  Russian kale is distinguished by its red or purple leaves.  These plants produce a flatter open, more cabbage like clump.  Like curly leaf types, once established you can use scissors to cut some leaves to add to everyday meals without sacrificing your plants.  They are exceptional dropped last minute into hot soup! Grow kale from seed, or if you’re lucky specialty garden centers may have starts from local organic farms.  Because they germinate so readily it’s cheap and easy to grow a whole mess of greens in any yard, even if its sun challenged.  Kale, like all brassicas will bolt and go to seed with the expanding day length.  Heat also causes them to bolt so enjoy them during the cooler months.  Once they bolt the plant will die.  However, don’t forget to replant them again from seed at the end of summer.  They’ll mature by late fall and keep producing into the winter.  Kale can survive a surprising amount of frost, which is said to make the leaf and stem much sweeter.  Without expanding days they may never bolt and hang on until ice and snow finally do them in.   To find seed for a variety of kales for a backyard taste test this year, and for other tasty pot greens online, go to The Cook’s Garden at http://www.cooksgarden.com/searchprods.asp