Why You Should Plant Perennials Throughout Summer

Gardeners in areas with cold winters can’t wait until spring—that’s time for planting. But surprise! That’s not the only time you can plant. You can continue planting perennials throughout the summer—and you should! Perennials are plants that come back each year. They’re great for your garden because you don’t have to buy them every year like you do for annuals. So why not just buy some perennials in spring and be done? Here are six reasons to keep shopping for perennials throughout the growing season: You won’t miss out on variety. If you shop only in spring, you may buy perennials that catch your eye because they’re already flowering. When you plant them, you’ll have a lovely spring garden, but what happens when your irises and roses are done blooming? If you shop every few weeks, you’ll see what’s blooming then. Buy something each time you stop in and you can make sure you have blooms in your garden throughout the entire growing season. You can spread out the work. So many gardeners mistake the start of their growing season for a deadline. They think they have to buy all of their plants at one time and install them all in one exhausting weekend. Give yourself a break and do the work little by little.  You can correct mistakes. If some of your plants didn’t get as tall as you expected they would, you can choose an even taller plant to add height to your garden. Or if a perennial …

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Should You use Compost or Fertilizer?

  Should you use compost or fertilizer? If you use compost in your garden beds, you may not have to use chemical fertilizer at all. Adding synthetic fertilizer if it’s needed can be helpful, but when it’s not needed, it can be bad for your plants and for the environment. Don’t guess—test to see whether you need fertilizer. Problems with synthetic fertilizer Using too much fertilizer can actually damage your plants. Fertilizer burn disrupts water uptake by the roots and will show up as brown spots on the leaves. Too much fertilizer can also damage the environment. Fertilizer can be washed out of the soil by rain and get into nearby waterways, polluting the water. This stormwater pollution can make beaches unsafe for swimming, threaten the quality of drinking water, kill fish and other wildlife and make fish unsafe to eat. In addition, the production of nitrogen for synthetic fertilizers uses lots of natural gas, which can contribute to climate change. Why you should test If your soil lacks certain nutrients, using a fertilizer can help it. If your soil doesn’t need fertilizer, adding a fertilizer can make your garden worse. Soil test kits are inexpensive, fast and easy. You can test for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) with the Rapitest Soil Test Kit here. The Rapitest also tests for pH levels, telling you whether your soil is acidic or alkaline. The kit includes instructions on how to amend your soil, if needed. How compost can help Compost …

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On Earth Day, Help Environment by Composting

Earth Day, observed on April 22, is a great time to take action to help our environment. One single action—composting—can benefit the environment in multiple ways. Rebuild soil health   In order to grow abundant fruits, vegetables and flowers, your garden needs soil that is healthy enough to support those plants. Soil isn’t just “dirt.”  It is composed of minerals and contains water and air. Another important ingredient is organic matter such as compost. Adding compost to soil improves the soil structure. That benefits the living things in the soil, including earthworms and insects, as well as microbes such as mycorrhizae, a beneficial fungus that plants need in order to grow well. Prevent water pollution Compost can improve the physical characteristics of the soil, which helps the soil retain water. A large cause of water pollution is stormwater runoff—rain and snowmelt that does not soak into the ground. The runoff flows over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots and building rooftops. Runoff can pick up and deposit harmful pollutants such as trash, chemicals, dirt and sediment into streams and lakes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Adding compost to your soil helps reduce stormwater runoff because compost can hold five times its weight in water, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Compost also serves as a filter and a sponge. It degrades pollutants, improving water quality. Keep food scraps out of landfills Landfills can pollute the surrounding soil, air and water. About 146.1 million tons …

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How Whole Foods Market Reduces Waste by Composting

Since Whole Foods Market’s founding in Austin, Texas in 1980, this grocery store chain has shown a commitment to saving the planet. The US’s first certified organic grocer, Whole Foods sells only food free of hydrogenated fats, with no artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, and sweeteners. They have grown to more than 431 supermarkets in North America and the United Kingdom. In addition to offering packaged items, the stores feature organic produce, deli food, natural body care products, salad bars, and cafes. Whole Food Market aims to reduce waste in each store. One major component of waste reduction is composting. They were pioneers in developing large-scale composting programs in their stores. In any grocery store, there is wasted packaging and food scraps. Most merchandise arrives

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Lasagna Composting (a.k.a. Sheet Composting) is Super Easy!

Upon reading the title, you would probably start thinking about a compost pile that creates ready-made lasagna or produces lasagna ingredients. Well, you’re absolutely wrong with at least the former assumption. Lasagna composting or sheet composting is a horticultural method deriving its name from the process and style of layering your compost. It may sound appetizing but it’s basically a procedure that helps establish a new garden bed with the richest of soil, that’s where the assumption that it produces lasagna ingredients is partially true. Lasagna composting is an organic gardening method that helps save time.  Imagine all the benefits of composting with almost none of the work. Lasagna composting involves spreading all the materials directly on the garden in layers thin enough that they break down on their own with no watering or turning. How wonderful! Some things to consider before attempting this type of composting: This is an ideal early-fall technique, so you will have optimal soil by spring. Lasagna composting takes six months or more, so it’s not a good strategy if you want to plant soon. This style of composting isn’t exactly the most attractive way to compost. Most homesteaders won’t care, but if you’re homesteading on a suburban lot with a picky homeowner’s association, you may catch some grief. Creating a lasagna compost can certainly help save you some time versus traditional composting as it doesn’t require any digging, tilling or removing of sod. It may sound a bit sensational but it’s also quite effective. …

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The Benefits of Worm Castings on Garden Soil and Plants

If you are looking for a safer and better alternative to use as fertilizer as opposed to the chemical-based products made today, then you might want to use worm castings also known as vermicompost for supplementing your garden soil and plants. Castings from composting worms have been recognized as a natural fertilizer that is packed with a lot of nutrients and minerals. Worm castings contains minerals such as concentrated nitrates, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. Worm castings are also a 100% organic fertilizer that can increase a plant’s yield, protect both soil and plants from diseases, and help the soil retain moisture. If you want a constant supply of worm castings than you should definitely consider starting your own little worm farm with Red worms. Red worms live and eat off of the

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The BEST Things to Make with Your Home-Grown Tomatoes

Well, we all like to garden here, so I decided to put together an article of the BEST home grown tomato foods.  I am quite positive that this will put some ideas in your head for using these in this harvest season.  Take a look below, for some mouth-watering ideas! First would definitely be the Lamb and Tomato Tagine.  This take a bit more preparation than the other things on the list, but it’s payoff is amazing!  If you have never made this, a simple search in google will give you all sorts of varieties on how to make this. Tomato Chutney is another good thing to do with your tomatoes that will take up all of the ones that are at risk for going bad, as the harvest was a few weeks ago.  This stuff will last you all winter long, and then some.  It stores for a long time, and tastes amazing.  The vinegar makes for a long store time, and does wonderful things for the taste buds. If you do not make it a habit to make homemade salsa, listen up.  This is hands down, no questions asked, that the tomato was created in the first place.  This is literally nothing easier than making some good salsa, and there is not a sauce on the planet, as far as I am convinced, that goes with more food items.  Typically, all you need is tomato, onions, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, and maybe some jalapeno peppers.  I for one, need …

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Step-by-step Instructions for growing some great peppers in your garden!

If you want to see the biggest difference between home-grown food and store bought, peppers are perhaps the best way to do this.  They have great nutritional content, add a ton of great flavor, and best of all, they (sometimes) are spicy!  If you want some of the best peppers ever, then here is where you pay attention. Picking the best place to plant peppers can actually make quite a big difference in how they turn out.  Typically, you want to pick a spot where the same plants have not grown the prior years(a great reminder to rotate your garden).  It should be sunny and not too wet.  If your soil is not deep and rich, go ahead and add some compost.  Don’t add TOO much, as excess nitrogen in the soil can cause way too fast of growth. When you plant your pepper seedlings, you will need to prep them for planting outdoors, by exposing them to a bit of the outdoors.  This basically is weaning them off of indoor living, and preparing them to live outdoors in your garden.  If they adapt as seedlings, then they will not waste valuable time after you plant them outside.  When you do this, you can typically expect to see bigger peppers!  When you are in the sixty-seventy degree range, put the seedlings outside for a few hours a day for a week or two, extending the time each day. When you plant, make sure you are not going to freeze or …

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