Friday, 10 April 2009

Learning About the Daisy Flower

The daisy flower is the blossom of one the most popular perennials chosen for gardens everywhere. It's a natural for indoor vases, and there are literally dozens of different daisies to choose from. The most popular breeds are African Daisies and Shasta Daisies. These are great for those who are new to gardening, and those who enjoy the hobby but don't really have a green thumb.

When you grow daisies, year one is the year you plant them, and they will bloom from year two onwards. If your daisy flower plants get to crowding each other too much, you can separate or divide them and spread them out a bit. You don't want the plants competing with each other for nutrients. If they do, the blooms will be much smaller.

Daisies are happiest in full sunshine, and in well-drained, rich soil. But they are a very forgiving and hardy plant. They will tolerate lesser soils and some shade. They don't need much attention throughout the year, either. If you give them a bit of fertilizer when they are young, it will help your daisies to grow strong leaves and big stalks. If you want to help each plant to have an even more beautiful daisy flower, give it a fertilizer with a good phosphorous content right before it blooms.

Daisies are not very often bothered by disease or insects. They don't normally need any fungicides or pesticides. If you do have a problem with disease or insects, just treat your plants with a fungicide or insecticide at the first sign of problems, and that will usually take care of it.

Some of the most popular plants in the home garden are in the class of the daisy flower. They have earned their popularity outdoors and indoors by their attractive blooms, and their ease of growth. They are as at home in containers as they are in flowerbeds. And they are an excellent choice for arrangements and flower vases. They are often used as corsages for weddings and proms.

Most daisies are perennials, and the white-colored Shasta Daisy is among the most popular in that group. Some are annuals, with African Daisies leading the popularity in that category. People who are new to home gardening, as well as children, will find these plants easy to care for, and the perfect first plant to grow. If other flowers were as easy to grow as daisies, we'd have lots more types for beginners to choose from.

You can grow daisies from seed or by starts. You can simply plant seeds into a flowerbed, with good results. If you start them indoors, they may bloom the first year. Wherever you plant them, you will enjoy the perky and happy daisy flower.

By Peter J Lee

Want to find out about lilac facts and stephanotis facts? Get tips from the Plants And Flowers website.

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Phalaenopsis Orchid Care - What Should I Do?

Phalaenopsis orchids are one of the most popular varieties of orchids, so much so that they represent around a staggering 75% of all the orchids that are purchased. Much of their popularity is due to the fact that they have long flowering periods and do well as houseplants. Out of all the orchid varieties, these are probably the easiest to cultivate.

There are many types of phalaenopsis orchids and they originate mainly from misty, mountainous regions such as the Himalayas or Indonesia. They have a characteristic butterfly appearance which results in their nickname "the moth" and exist in a range of vibrant colours. To keep them happy and replicate their natural habitat as much as possible, pay particular attention to the following factors:

1. Light

Phalaenopsis orchids like a generous amount of radiance but take care to protect them from harsh, direct sunlight. Place them near a southern facing window; you may need to install a net curtain to diffuse the light in summertime. If you live in a cloudier climate, you can supplement illumination levels by simulated means using a specialist daylight lamp.

2. Temperature

This variety does best in daytime temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees; this is not at all hard to achieve in the average house, even in winter. The plants do require a significant overnight temperature reduction of about 15 degrees, so, if you leave your central heating on while you sleep it is advisable to switch off any heaters that are located nearby.

3. Water

The general rule with every kind of orchid is to avoid over-wetting and hydrate as sparingly and as infrequently as possible. The same applies to phalaenopsis'. They are very susceptible to root-rot and definitely prefer drier conditions. Don't allow their roots to dry out completely, but exercise caution by checking the dampness of the planting medium with your fingers or a wooden stick before adding any extra moisture. Housing in containers made of natural materials is a good idea as these will be more porous and absorb excess moisture.

4. Humidity

This family demands high humidity quantities which can be quite difficult to achieve in the average home. Create extra mistiness by placing damp pebbles or bowls of water close by your plant. Spraying a fine mist in the surrounding area can also help.

In addition to the above factors, it is also essential to feed your phalaenopsis with specially formulated orchid-feed available from garden centres. Different compositions of feed will be needed depending on whether the orchid is in its flowering or its resting phase.

It will also be necessary to re-pot your bloom every 12-18 months as the roots do tend to outgrow their containers quite rapidly. When re-housing, choose a container that is only slightly larger than the original pot to avoid the risk of the planting matter become too wet and waterlogged.

Look after your phalaenopsis and it will have a long life and reward you with weeks and months of beautiful flowering.

Carl Harrison is an orchid enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on phalaenopsis orchid care, visit

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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Home Vegetable Garden Basics - Convenience and Exposure

Many people think that the first criteria when picking the "best spot" for a home vegetable garden is good soil; however, although good soil is important, good soil is made, not found. You can rebuild the soil once the spot has been chosen. When you are choosing where you want your garden patch to be, you must focus on its convenience and exposure.

Convenience means your garden area should be "close by" or as close to your house as possible. You may think that a difference of only a few hundred yards cannot be that significant; however, if you have to largely depend upon spare moments for working in it and for watching it, convenience will be much more important than you think.

Don't wait till you have had to make a dozen time-wasting trips for forgotten seeds or tools or gotten your feet soaking wet by going out through the dew-drenched grass to gather those "vegetables of the day" to realize that "close access to your home vegetable garden" is important.

Another point to remember is that the garden area does not have to be set in an ugly spot in your backyard or hidden behind the barn or garage. If you carefully plan, plant, and care for your vegetables, this little patch can end up not only producing very nourishing food for you, but it can also end up being a most beautiful and harmonious part of your landscape. Thus having your area in close proximity to your house can lend a touch of comfortable homeliness that no shrubs, border, or flower beds can ever produce.

The next most important criteria when picking out your area for your home vegetable garden which is to give you hours of joy and yield delicious vegetables all summer, or even for many years, is the exposure.

Pick out the "closest" spot or plot you can find where your garden will slope a little to the south or east, will catch the sunshine early and hold it late, and will be, as much as possible, out of the direct path of the chilling north and northeast winds.

It's important to get seedlings growing as soon as possible and to keep them growing; therefore, if a building, or even an old fence, protects your vegetables from the chilling north or northeast winds, your vegetables will be helped along wonderfully.

If this garden patch is not already protected, a board fence or a hedge of some low-growing shrubs or young evergreens would be most helpful. The importance of having such a protection or shelter is greatly underestimated by the amateur.

To summarize, when you are choosing that "best spot" for yourhome vegetable garden, make sure you consider these basics: Find a spot which is convenient and close to your house and make sure your garden is positioned so that it gets lots of sun and is somewhat protected from the elements.

By Marcie Snyder

Bio: A gardener for years, Marcie has learned the value of composting and using it to put nutrients back into the soil. You can download her newly released Free ebook at

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How to Choose the Right Gardening Tools

No matter what size your garden is, there's no doubt that gardening tools can help make the job of maintaining your garden a lot easier. However there are so many tools available that it can be difficult to know which ones you really need, particularly if you're new to gardening. It's tempting to avoid the confusion by just buying everything, but that just means you'll end up with no money and a storage area full of tools you don't use.

So which tools are worth buying? Gardening involves moving dirt around, so a digging tool is always a good choice. If you're mainly working in pots or containers, then a sturdy trowel is a fabulous investment. A shovel is better if you're going to be moving large amounts of soil around, or to assist you with planting trees, vegetables and flowers. It might be tempting to save yourself some effort by choosing a power tiller or plough, but unless you have a very large garden, they're probably involve more expense and trouble than they're worth.

Another worthwhile tool to buy is a rake or hoe. Again, if you're going to mainly be working in smaller areas, a pot-sized equivalent is a good idea. These tools can be used to smooth soil and remove weeds. This sort of work can be done by hand, but it's easier with the right tool, particularly in a large garden.

Although they're not technically a tool, good gardening gloves are also useful. It may be worth having a couple of pairs - some heavy duty ones for rough work, some thinner ones when you need to feel what you're doing.

Once your garden is established, then at least one pruning tool is a necessity. Depending on the size of your plants, choose anything from pruners or secateurs through to large tree loppers. It's worth spending a little extra to buy a solid, reliable pruning tool, otherwise it may be ruined the first time you try to cut anything with them.

A few more tools that you can probably survive without, but will make life easier depending on the size of your garden, include:

- Wheelbarrow
- Garden fork
- Watering can
- Hose & hose reel
- Rake

Again, it's easy to find cheap tools, but if you're serious about using your tools for a long period of time, think of buying good quality tools as an investment. Cheap tools don't usually work as well, and tend to be less sturdy and easier to break. Happy gardening!

By Jean Murphy

If you want to learn more about choosing garden tools, click over to Jean's site at

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Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Greenhouse Kits - Getting Started

Greenhouse kits are a versatile option for both amateur and professional gardeners. Different people decide to use greenhouses for different reasons. For instance, one person may wish to raise plants for winter use. Another may wish to get an earlier start in the year for growing trickier plants. Still another may wish to better hold over existing plants for use during the next season.

Whatever the reason for selecting a greenhouse, there is certain to be a design suited for every gardener's needs. While it is always possible to build a custom structure, it may be much easier to purchase a ready-to-assemble kit.

    Here are some tips for selecting the right greenhouse and setting it up correctly:

  • Make a list of desirable plants to maintain. Under each species, take notes on the required climate and space as well as general life spans. This information will assist in determining what functions a greenhouse needs to perform during different times of the year.

  • Compare that list to the regional climate. Growing tropical plants in a cold environment will take a lot more work than growing them in warmer areas. Different greenhouse kits will provide different potentials for control.

  • Determine how much space is necessary for the plants. After that, choose a structure that is a bit bigger. This allows room for changes in plans of cultivation. A person may also discover that, though plants may fit easily into their allotted amount of space, the area is still too crowded for adequate ventilation. The truth is more plants die from overheating within a greenhouse than they do from the winter cold.

  • Decide where the greenhouse will be placed. Light is an important consideration for this matter. In particular, the amount of winter light should be kept in mind. The change of the angle of the sun over the year will affect placement. Obviously, there should not be any shading structures within a location. It is also important to remember that trees may grow and lose leaves over time.

  • Remember that if the ideal situation for the summer is different than that of the winter, perhaps the best option is to purchase a portable greenhouse kit. Another situation where this may be excellent is if great changes of terrain may be expected over the years. For instance, if a new shed may be built in an area, blocking sunlight, then an option which is capable of eventually being transported with ease may be best.

  • Choose the material type carefully. Wooden frames often come with the risk of rotting or developing mold and mildew. Some are created with PVC tubing, which is more affordable. Aluminum and steel options are much more durable, though more expensive.

  • Calculate any additional purchases necessary. A sturdy, reliable frame may come at a great low price. However, it is possible that it does not include the other elements which many kits do, such as shelves. The need for additional purchases can bring the price up. Also, if it is not built in an adaptive manner, the cost of altering greenhouse kits through drilling and other such practices may also increase the expense.

By Anne Clarke

Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for Web sites on gardening, parenting, and home decor. Her background also includes teaching, yoga, and fashion. For more of her useful articles on greenhouse supplies, please visit Greenhouse Kits, supplier of greenhouse news and information.

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Garden Folklore - Plants Thrive in Good Company

Farmers and gardeners of long -gone past were aware of the importance of keeping some form of order in their farming or gardening to keep the plants healthy, repel insects and pests with no other tool but the plants and how they are grouped together. Plants that are not "friendly" together are planted separately.

There were no supportive scientific data to back up their findings. They conducted their experiments, with their lands as the laboratory using the trial and error method year after year. This method of gardening helps to keep this earth healthy, minimize if not eliminate the use of chemicals for growth or pest and disease control. It keeps the soil balanced.

Plants can be good companions to one another. They provide pest and insect control to their neighbors. It can be the scent, hormones and oils coming from their roots, flowers or leaves that help to discourage disease and harmful pests without losing their beneficial assets.

Taller sun-loving plants provide shade for the shorter plants that prefer the shade.

Some plants provide extra nutrients, such as deep- rooted plants that bring out sulfur, potassium and calcium to the surface, for the benefit of the shallow-rooted ones to share.

Some plants act as fungicide, insect and pest repellants. Some plants accumulate sulfur well and this gives an odor that many pests avoid.

Flowers and leaves with strong scent are known to repel flying insects.

Secretions from the roots inhibit weeds and kill parasitic worms and nematodes.

Some gardeners provide a "trap" plant to absorb the disease or attract harmful pests without causing harm to itself

These plants can be used as borders, ground covers, backdrops or interplant to keep the plants happy and healthy and in good company.

Some good neighbors and partners

Marigolds top the list. The strong scent from the flowers and foliage repel pests and the roots inhibit nematodes. Plant with vegetables and other flowering plants.

CAUTION: Marigolds are not friendly with herbaceous plants. The root secretions can inhibit the growth of the herbs. If you must plant marigolds with herbs, don't plant them too close, keep them around the edges.

Foxglove ( Digitalis) have beautiful flowers and it is known to stimulate the growth of plants near it. It makes the neigboring plants disease resistant. It improves the storage qualities of fruits and vegetables and root vegetables. probably due to gaseous secretions and minute hormones.

Insect repellants : Many flowers used as border plants repel flying insects, such as: coreopsis, coriander, cosmos, geranium, marigolds, chrysanthemum, marjoram, oregano

Most vegetables are friendly to one another.

Peas and beans make good companions for other plants because the roots fix the nitrogen supply for the other plants,

Onions and garlic and other plants from the alium family are beneficial to plants around them. These plants are known as good fungicides and insecticides. They accumulate sulfur very efficiently and the odor they emit repels many pest and other pesky four-legged critters. Plant with cabbage, tomatoes, peas, corn. Good for roses too.

Unfriendly neighbors: Avoid planting these together for they are unfriendly and definitely not good companions:

rue and basil
runner beans and potatoes
beets and beans
beans and onions or garlic
strawberries and cabbage
dill and carrots
cucumber and potato, no strong herbs
potato - no cucumber, pumpkin, raspberry, squash, sunflower, tomato

Fennel prefers to be by itself.

This is just a short list.

Herbs are good companions to most plants. The strong scent repels most pests. Some herbs are also known to bring out potassium, sulfur and calcium to the soil surface for the plants around it to benefit from. Chamomile is especially favored for these qualities.

This can be a topic by itself for herb gardeners.

Reference: Garden Folklore that Works by Charlie Ryrie

By Bonnie Moss

Bonnie Moss writes to inspire and to motivate her readers to explore the depths of their heart and soul and make a difference in this world. Develop your interests, your creativity and live life to its fullest.

Visit her website :

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Garden Folklore - It Starts With the Soil

Gardening as we know today is not what it was in the centuries past. Planting food was essential for survival. Ornamental gardening evolved for modern times pleasure.

Farmers looked to the colors and tempers of the sky, animal behavior and to plants and trees to determine the best time to sow the seeds. The rhythms of the world and the seasons served as their guide. They devised techniques that served them well and passed it on to future generations Soil "Light enough to root, firm enough to stay." Success in the garden starts with the soil. Roots need plenty of room to get water and air. The soil should be able to store enough supply of nutrients for the roots.

A gardener must know the condition of the soil before planting. A poor patch of ground can be transformed to produce a lush garden with the proper soil treatment and amendment.

Soil categories:

Sandy: light masses of particles that don't hold together. Roots can easily get water and air, but not enough nutrients. It is good for alpine plants and some herbs like lavender, tarragon, thyme and root vegetables like carrots, onions etc.

Clay: mineral particles stick together with few spaces for roots to get air and water. It stores nutrients well but it's difficult for roots to get at them. This soil tends to get waterlogged and has hard cracks when it's dry. It is good for deep rooted plants like mints, comfrey, beans, potatoes. pears and the like.

Loam: Mix of small and large particles offer satisfactory drainage and stores nutrients well. Most garden plants grow well.

Simple ways of testing soil: Put a sample of soil in a screw-top jar. Add water, shake well and let settle. Sand settles at the bottom of the jar, clay soil will have a thin layer of water topped with thick soil.

Hand testing: Pick up a handful and roll it between your finger and roll it into a ball. If it won't stick together, it's probably sandy. If it feels gritty but forms to a ball, it's likely loam. If it's sticky, rub the surface to a shine as you rub your thumb; you have a handful of clay.

Soil Improvements: Poor soil and bad drainage: dig in compost in the fall and spring. Or use mulch on top of the ground to keep the moisture while nutrients seep slowly deeper. Dig in rotted manure into the ground for vegetables and among ornamental plants. Don't use manure on carrots or deep,long rooted plants as the roots will feed on the manure instead of going down the soil. Manure is a good fertilizer, use only well rotted manure.

Compost Lucky for those who are able to make their own compost. Grass cuttings, manure, young weeds, mixed with fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, old flowers, prunings and farmyard manure are good for the compost.

When to work the soil: "Till the soil on midsummer's day, not feast, aye famine will come your way. Till the soil in April showers, you will have not fruits nor flowers." Digging the soil when it's dry loosens the crumbs and can destroy its ability to hold water. When it's too wet, you compact the soil making it hard for water to drain. Farmers work the soil at dawn and finish by midday and return early in the evening. Working on wet soil, do not stand on the soil you are working on.

Planting Plant after 4PM, as the sun sets and its heat intensity decreases. This gives the plants a chance to settle in as the day cools. Bury hair around plant roots or in a trench around the plant. This deters pests that try to crawl over. Hair is rich in minerals and micronutrients. Bury banana skins just under the soil specially around roses and herbaceous plants. It supplies magnesium, calcium, phosphates, silica and sodium. Keep the fat after roasting meat or poultry. Plants love it and deters vermins. Bury the fat at least a foot deep, mix with crushed garlic and work into the soil.

Using junk pots: Containers, old pots and cans can be good for container gardening. Remember to make holes at the bottom for water to drain.

Line wicker containers with moss or plastic bags to keep the soil and moisture in.

Old barrels or tubs are good for potatoes or strawberries for limited space.

Metal containers conduct heat and cold so well that plants could fry in the heat and freeze when it's frigid. Line with plastic or bubble wrap to protect the roots. Tape the serrated tops of cans before planting to prevent cuts and scrapes. What's growing in your yard:

"Gold under thistle, silver under rushes, famine under heath."

STOP! Don't go merrily pulling out the weeds without identifying them. Weeds carry a message about the condition of the soil and the surrounding area. Take a closer look at your soil before you do anything. "Nettles today, fruits tomorrow." Nettles like a rich and damp soil, their roots go crawling deep to bring out the minerals. Pulling them out leaves the soil with a ready supply for your plants. If you leave some in, it stimulates growth of nearby plants and makes them resistant to diseases.

Weeds can help to identify poor drainage, acidic soil, low fertility or lack of iron. Clover and wild mustard add nitrogen and minerals and suppress weeds. They bring the minerals up to the surface, and also helps clear some pests. Don't let the mustard go into seed.

Dandelions, mustard and pigweed thrive in fertile and balanced soil.

Farmers used to add rusty nails in the planting hole to provide extra iron. Yellow leaves while the leaf vein is green shows lack of iron in the soil.

Moss and fungi indicate poorly drained soil. Dig out those buttercups. They rob the soil of potassium and other minerals, secretions from their roots poison nitrogen producing bacteria. This is a large family of plants and includes delphiniums, peonies and clematis. The beds for these ornamental plants need constant feeding and replenishing.

Practise good weeding- know how and when to get rid of those annoying weeds. "Pull wet and hoe dry." When it's wet, weeds are easier to pull out. But using a hoe in the wet encourages weeds to spread out as you cut the tops off. Cutting weeds in the early summer encourages growth. Wait till they go into seed, when their energy is on the seeds.

Do not use hay or straw as weed mulch, the weeds contain seeds that can create a whole new problem.

Happy gardening.

Reference: Garden Folklore that Works by Charlie Ryrie

By Bonnie Moss

Bonnie Moss writes to inspire and to motivate her readers to explore the depths of their heart and soul and make a difference in this world. She draws from personal experience and her interest in the New Age Visit her website:

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