Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How To Tell If Your Garden or Landscape Is Healthy

Bringing life to your garden

A healthy garden grows

A healthy garden or landscape  is alive with activity. 

There's lots of birds, bugs and butterflies.  Hummingbirds, too, and bees.  

When your garden is alive, it will grow and produce abundantly.  If there's no life, it will shrivel and die.   That's true for people, too. 

Bugs?   Did I say bugs?   Yes indeed!

A healthy garden needs LOTS of bugs.  Good bugs.  Lots and lots of good bugs.

Here's how it works:
Healthy plants attact good bugs.  Good bugs pollinate the plants and keep away the bad bugs.

Look closely!  
A good bug is
 hiding in fern-y dill and carrot tops.
It rewards us by turning into
a gorgeous butterfly! 
Birds eat bugs (both good and bad) and gently nestle the leaves of the     plants which helps with pollination, too.

Birds also leave their droppings which help fertilize the plants.  Droppings often contain a "volunteer" plant seed which is a gift from Mother Nature.  Birds bring their beauty and song to your garden, too.

But wait, there's more.... bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, birds' nests with tiny eggs, toads, even the ocassional kitty - all bring life to your garden.

Brightly colored flowers
attact birds, bees and butterflies
It's easy to pump up the volume of activity in your garden and attact birds, bugs and butterflies.  Just add brightly colored flowers (like zinnias) and a water feature (like a bird bath).  Skip chemical pesticides and weed killers.  It won't take long for your garden to come alive.

Whether it's gorgeous flowers, abundant vegetables or just a perfectly manicured lawn that you're after, your Garden of Eden should be as congested as Times Square on New Years Eve.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pliers - The Quick and Easy Way to Pull Out Thorn-y Vines

By Karla Jones Seidita
Home Economist & Master Gardener

It's May and I'm embarrassed to tell you that today is really the first day I have been in the garden this spring.  But last night, as I fell into bed, I vowed to get up and get into the garden before breakfast.  No excuses!

We've been so busy here at Cheesecake Farms (with a calendar chock full of guests - even mid week which is unusual for us) that I've hardly had a moment to spare.  Plus, we just had the outside of the Mane House painted - deck and all - so I was hesitant about doing any real planting for fear the painters would step on everything and break bushes with tarps.  But now the painting is over.

So this morning, as the sun came up and I opened my eyes, I got excited about getting into the garden.  No marathon mind you... just a pleasant hour or so of fresh air and sunshine.  I made myself a cup of coffee and headed out with my favorite tool....a pair of pliers.

I can hear you laughing but pliers are the perfect tool for pulling out nasty, thorn-y vines.  Just grab the vine with your pliers and pull.  Out it comes!!   The closer to the ground and the base of the vine you position the pliers the better.   

Happy Gardening!