Tag Archives: gardening

Bee pollinating a flower

How CCD Affects Pollinators

CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder, causes an average loss of 30% of beehives annually since 2006.

Obviously, bees are not the only pollinators on earth. They are, however, the largest contributors to animal pollination. Other pollinators include bats, butterflies, insects, and birds. In honor of National Pollinator Week, June 19-25, 2017, we have the basic information you will need to join the fight to save our pollinators.

Bees   Butterflies   Hummingbird

First, Some Statistics

It’s important to understand just what pollinators do and why saving them has become so important. You can see the tremendous impact they have on our food supply and our economy in these statistics:

Pollinator Statistics

Also, according to a 2016 United Nations committee report, up to 16% of vertebrate pollinators, like birds and bats, and 9% of insect pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are threatened with extinction. Keep reading for the causes and suggestions for what you can do to help pollinators in your area.

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Grow Salad Greens During the Cold Winter and Have Fun Doing It!

One of my favorite things to grow during the fall and winter months is lettuce. Sure anyone can grab a bag of salad mix from the store for a couple of bucks, but if you’re a die hard vegetable gardener like myself, you are going to need to get outside to get your daily dose of vitamin D or you’ll go nuts. Plus, we all know homegrown just tastes better!


Seeds
Tips for Growing Salad Greens in Late Fall and Winter


Be patient. Lettuce germinates best in cooler temperatures, but if it gets too cold germination may slow down considerably. The ideal time to plant is two weeks before the first fall frost. Most lettuce varieties only take about 45 – 60 days to reach maturity.

Plant lettuce seeds and seedlings in containers. This way if a gust of cooler weather or a frost is headed your way, you can easily move the pots alongside your home or front porch and wrap them with a fabric cover or tuck the seedlings under a cloche.

Overseed. I consider it “insurance” for a great harvest. Be sure to sow seeds every two weeks for a good continuous crop of salad greens.


If you live in an area with harsh winters, no problem. You can still grow lettuce in the winter. Simply pick a sunny windowsill or pull out the grow lights because you can grow lettuce ANYWHERE! Indoors or out.

Salad Greens Growing

And last but not least, remember lettuce has shallow roots and needs good drainage or their delicate roots could freeze if left sitting in a container of soggy potting soil. 

Growing salad greens in the late fall and winter months can be a little bit of a challenge, but a homegrown dinner salad in middle of winter… now that’s priceless.

Items you may Need:

Whiskey Barrel Resin Planter HDR-474543

SKU: 011404050

Trowel

Fiskars Big Grip Trowel

SKU: 005420203

A November Checklist for your Home, Lawn and Garden

With shorter days and the the first real snowfall around the corner, it’s the right time to finish last-minute projects around the house before winter sets in.

INSIDE 

  1. CHECK VENTS:  Close vents in unheated basement area, but keep attic vents open.        Replace rusted or damaged pipes from gas water heaters and your dryer.
  2. ADJUST THERMOSTATS FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY. If you have multiple thermostats in    your home for different zones, set temperatures for the way you use the rooms: bedrooms     cooler, baths and sitting areas warmer.  PREVENT THE OVERLOAD OF ELECTRICAL CIRCUITS.Make certain electrical cords aren’t covered by rugs or heavy curtains; they can overheat and cause a fire.
Thermostat

Honeywell Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Thermostat

 

 

 

 

 

Outside

  1. CLEAR PATHWAYS AND STOOPS TO MAKE SNOW SHOVELING EASIER. Make sure there is ready access to your woodpile, gas and oil tanks, and garbage cans.
  2. CLEAN GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS. But wait until most of the leaves have dropped. You may want to invest in a gutter scoop.
  3. INSPECT SUPPORTS, RAILINGS, AND STAIRS. A flimsy handrail might give way when someone slipping on ice or snow grabs it suddenly. Check that footings under support posts are secure and haven’t shifted due to water infiltration, settling, or frost.
  4. Take winter linens out of storage and launder. Dry clean garments packed in mothballs to remove the camphor odor. Toss out herbal repellants, as they lose their potency over time.

Your garden’s not ready to snooze just yet

Bulbs

If you haven’t put them in the ground already, hop to it. This is actually a great time to get bulbs, because they’re often 50% off or more as companies move their stock out. Use a bulb planter to speed the process (remember to sprinkle some bulb food in the bottom of the hole) and go to town across the garden. Bulbs look best in massed plantings, so think about that as you plan things out.

Be aware that some bulbs, like daffodils and iris, aren’t very interesting to gophers, and can in fact make a great protective ring around tender plants like young apple trees. Others, such as tulips, are a gopher’s delight, and need to be planted in cages and containers or you won’t see them come spring.

Clean Up Beds and Borders

All those dead plants? Yeah, it’s really time to make those go away now. Trim away dead foliage, uproot weeds, compost the leavings, and cultivate the beds to leave them smooth and even for next year. You can work in some mulch and compost to condition the soil, if you like. In mild climates, try planting overwintering flowers and crops, like mums and kale. In cooler reaches, well, all that ugly soil will be covered by snow soon!

Drain and Insulate Hoses, Standpipes, and Other Fixtures

With frost comes broken pipes, unless you act ahead of time. Drain all your outdoor water fixtures and cut their water supply so they won’t fill up. Put hoses in storage, and insulate your standpipes to prevent cracking and ice damage in the winter. When your neighbors are tearing their hair out and calling an emergency plumber over broken pipes, you can continue lounging in front of the heater.

Leaf Management

Still have a leaf problem? Not surprising — many trees are just starting to turn across the country. Set aside 30 minutes or so each week for leaf control.

Black & Decker LeafHog 12 Amp High Performance 240 mph Blower/Vacuum LH4500

 

For the Birds

Make sure your bird feeders are full for your avian visitors. They’ll appreciate seeds and suet during the cold winter months. Don’t be surprised if you see squirrels as well, looking for things to snack on. If you start noticing mice and rats, consider hiring a cat — but in the short term, you’ll want to try elevating the bird feeder and installing a tray to catch fallen seeds so they don’t end up on the ground.

Have fun working on your Checklist and when you are taking a break enjoy a Hot Beverage.

How to Make Garden Stepping Stones

 

Stepping stones are a great way to dress up your garden, but can be quite pricey. So why not spend an afternoon making your own garden stepping stones? They are super easy and fun to make for the whole family!

CIARABLOG1

There are tons of different kinds of stepping stone, whether you want to add them to your garden or just accent a walkway into your backyard stepping stones make cool landscape accessories. They can also make great gifts, although they may be a little heavy to wrap!

What you will need:

  • Concrete (you can find this in your local Rural King store or special stepping stone concrete at a craft store)
  • Plastic mold (you can also find these at craft stores, but you can also use a pie pan or a plastic pot drainage saucer which is also found in our Rural King stores.)
  • Decorations such as paint, shells, marbles and glass beads or pieces of a wind chime.  

What to do:

  • Put on a pair of plastic gloves and lay out a few sheets of newspaper to cover the floor.
  • Pick which mold you’ll use to make your stepping stone.
  • Mix the cement according to the instructions on the package and pour it in the plastic mold container. It should be at least two inches thick.
  • Depending on how you want to embellish your stepping stone, start decorating it while the cement is still soft or wait at least 24 hrs for it to dry before removing it from the container. 

Stepping stones: before the cement hardens, you can make a hand or footprint, stick on shells and glass beads or use cookie cutters to make cool shapes. You can use anything lying around your house to jazz up your stepping stones. If you’re more of a painter, then wait for the cement to completely dry before you paint your stepping stone!