From Vegetable Gardening

Bruschetta Recipe

Organic Roma Tomatoes
These tomatoes were grown organically in a raised garden bed.

Tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden make delicious Bruschetta. Here’s a delicious tomato recipe that you and your family are sure to love:

Fresh Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Recipe

1 loaf crusty Italian bread, sliced 3/4-inch thick (about 16 pieces)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups fresh, chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp chopped basil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped very fine
1/2 tsp salt
1 oz. shaved mozzarella cheese
Butter
Parmesan cheese

Mix the olive oil, tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt and cheese. Spread butter on the slices of bread, then spread the mixture over the slices of bread. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheesed are melted.

Getting Rid of Pesky Japanese Beetles



It’s the time of year when Japanese Beetles find there way into your garden and they can create devastation in no time if they aren’t dealt with quickly. While they generally don’t eat dogwood, forsythia, holly, lilac, evergreens and Hosta, they’ll eat darn near everything else. These beetles feed on flowers and fruits making a skeleton of the leaves by eating the green parts and leaving the veins. Adults are most active from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on warm summer days. These voracious pests prefer plants in direct sun, so shady areas are usually less damaged.

Adult Japanese beetles are one quarter to one half inch long with copper colored wing covers and a shiny metallic green head. Between the green head and tiny tufts of white hair along their side you’ll recognize them easily as they happily munch on your roses.

The bacterial spore, sold as ‘Doom’ or ‘Grub Attack’ is generally used to control these pests. Using a hormone lure in your yard simply attracts more beetles to your yard. Put the lure somewhere else a hundred yards away encouraging the beetles to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, reducing the beetles in your yard will not reduce their attacks in succeeding years. These beetles are great fliers and can travel upwards of ten miles from where they hatched.

Handpicking is also effective on your prized plants – drop the beetles into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. There is some data that suggests hand picking is as effective as spraying noxious chemicals and you know you have killed the beetle when it drowns in your soapy bucket. One trick is to hold the bucket of soapy water under the plant and then shake the plant. Beetles will fall off the plant right into the bucket and you’ll get more beetles if you do this in the early morning before they start feeding and flying. Several birds (grackles, cardinals, meadowlarks) feed on the adult beetles so encourage birds in your yard.

If you decide to use a lure, place it at least 100 feet away from your garden. Lures like the Tanglefoot 300000665 Japanese Beetle Trap attract beetles and if you place one in your garden, you’ll have all the neighbors beetles visiting as well. Find a neighbor who doesn’t garden to host the lures and traps.

Annual Garden Tour Fundraising Event

tulips
2011 Annual Garden Tour Fundraiser Event for Fraser

My daughter invited me to attend an annual garden tour fundraising event put on by the organization that she works for. There is never any convincing needed to get me to go along on a garden tour, and I’m especially glad I didn’t miss out on this one. It was a wonderful opportunity to see beautiful private backyard gardens, while contributing to a very worthwhile cause. Fraser is a non-profit organization that offers support and care for children and families that have been affected by autism.

There were 12 gardens on the tour this year, all of them located in St. Paul, Minnesota. We didn’t get started until afternoon, but were still able to take in five of the gardens before the garden tour ended. We were treated to a beautifully landscaped backyard living space at the first home, complete with an En plien air artist.

En Plein Air Artist creating a beautiful painting in acrylic
A Black-Eyed Susan is the inspiration for this artwork

The objct d' art

A babbling water feature offers a cool, refreshing centerpiece in this garden.

The second stop featured gardens that placed third in the 2007 Saint Paul Blooming Gardens Awards and includes perennials and annuals arranged into formal gardens. Included in the setting is a retaining wall garden and a large fountain centered between pathways made of pavers and walls of vegetation.
Veriegated Hostas, astilbe and impatiens are cool and comfy in the shade

White picket fence and arbor invited us to stroll through the outdoor garden rooms.

Pink roses are fragrantly sweet, attracting honeybees and hummingbirds.

Stone steps take us to another outdoor garden room, a perfect place to relax and share a cool beverage in the summer heat.


Roses enhance the black wrought-iron gate.

The third stop was a family garden that included annuals, perennials, and herbs. The front sloping yard is landscaped with a dry stream bed and rain garden for environmentally friendly water drainage.
Through the Garden Gate
The Pathway Leads Through a Wooden Garden Gate

Mixing herbs and vegetables into the landscape are a practical method of gardening.

what is a river bed
Dry stream bed prevents erosion by directing excess water runoff.

Our fourth stop was at the 1889 Victorian home of co-owner of Tangletown gardens who displays his artistic abilities and green thumb on a flourishing garden canvas.

Tangletown Gardens Minneapolis Minnesota
Artist and co-owner of Tangletown Gardens maintains a living space that is like no other.

Garden Path
A lush variety of greenery decorate the garden path.

Koi
Large Koi swim through the channel of water back and forth to a larger pool of water.

Koi Pond
Large Koi Fish add to the feeling of a tropical garden.

water plants
The contrasting colors of foliage and ceramic pots work really well together.

mother & daughter
My daughter took advantage of the many photo opportunities too.

The final stop of our tour was the St. Paul Hotel English cottage-style gardens which have been maintained by a full-time gardener since 1994. The gardens include hundreds of summer annuals, topiary trees and tree roses.
rain garden
A terraced garden around a city drain doubles as a rain garden, filtering run-off before it enters the city drain system.

plant a garden
Flower gardens include annuals to add color and summer blooming perennials along the walkways.

Saint Paul Minnesota
Saint Paul Grill street entrance

phlox
The scent of Summer Phlox drifts through the air and reminds me of my grandma's vast garden flowers.

pictures of flowers ferns tulips
A collection of annual flowers adorn the entrance to the grand Saint Paul Hotel.

lilies
Sweet Asylum make a perfect edge to the gardens bursting with color.

This ended the annual garden tour and it was time for a cool refreshment of fresh squeezed lemonade and peach, berry cobbler. We are already looking forward to next year when we will get an early start so we can take in all of the gardens on the tour.

What to Know About Raised Bed Gardens

Raised gardens are becoming quite popular. As more people find themselves renting property or living in high rise apartment buildings, they have little or no access to garden space. There are many reasons why using raised gardens are desired over tilling the soil for those who wish to have smaller gardens and are limited on space in which to do so. At the same time, those who desire bigger yields are often dissatisfied with the limits of raised gardens. The choice is ultimately yours but I will try to point out some of the pros and cons of this type of garden so that you may decide for yourself.

Plants need air as much as they need good soil and water, and that is often difficult when planted in garden rows as soil becomes packed down with the frequent traffic that is necessary to properly maintain a traditional garden bed. By using a raised garden, which is designed to be worked from without rather than within, there is little fear of compacting the soil around the plants. At the same time many lifelong gardeners feel the inability to walk around in their gardens is a disadvantage in itself and prefer to be able to do so. This is often a matter of preference rather than practicality but a valid opposition just the same.

You can actually plant more plants in the same amount of square footage in a raised bed because there is no need for rows. You should also be aware that plants in raised beds often tend to grow larger than plants in traditional garden rows. That being said you should resist the urge to over plant within the raised garden bed, as this will eliminate that slight benefit. Many traditional gardeners have seen the results of overcrowding in these beds and feel that their way of doing this is much butter.

One huge benefit to raised beds for summer gardens in areas that are nearly saturated with excess moisture is that raised beds allow much better drainage than traditional row gardening. This is one thing that the average gardener will not argue with unless he lives in an area in which this isn’t much of a problem. Most gardeners in the south though, where there is a great deal of humidity and moisture will agree that proper drainage is a problem.

Raised beds are much easier on your back. By being above ground, raised gardens offer easier access for planting, weeding, planting, and investigating for signs of pests. Another great thing about raised gardens is that they are not as quick to cool as the earth, which renders them more productive and with longer growing seasons that most gardens that are placed in the ground.

For those who have unusually shaped yards or growing areas, raised gardens allow the opportunity to have a beautiful summer garden in almost any shape you can build the box for. This means you are not limited to rows, as many gardens tend to be and that you have a few more options for aesthetics when planning and growing your summer garden.

The downside to raised summer gardens is that they are difficult to dismantle and nearly impossible to till. This means you must do all the working of the soil by hand and many gardeners do not fully appreciate the beauty of that process. The most important thing however, is that you choose a summer garden system that works for you. You may find that combining the two provides the best results and is a great use of your time or that you prefer one over the other. There really is no wrong answer only the one that is wrong for you.

Ever Thought About Becoming a Bee Keeper?

keeping bees, bee honey, bee hive
Bees Are a Critical Part of the Garden

There’s been a great deal of coverage in the media about disappearing honey bees in the past year or so.  Experts speculate about what may be causing the mysterious disappearing act – cell phones, viruses, weather (climate change/global warming).  It may be years before we know the answers, if we ever do.

As an avid gardener, it’s concerning to think that the bee population is on the decline since our food supply is so dependent on these little buzzing pollinators.  I live in a suburban area with not enough property to become a bee keeper and I have enough respect for the honey bees and all types of bees that I would want to learn as much about bee keeping as possible before attempting to raise bees for honey.

Fortunately I work with an organic farmer who has become quite adept at raising honey bees and he’s very generous with the harvest each year.  He studied at the University of Minnesota and has been raising bees for honey and to pollinate his crops for several years now.  The sweet taste of clover honey cannot be beat by any store bought honey on the shelf.  To learn more about raising your own honey bees, start here: BeeKeeping For Beginners

Develop Interesting Accents Using A Wisteria Vine

The design philosophy might be determined by the broad strokes, but the total effect can be found with the accents. When designing any project, from a home to an entire building, ensure that you spend a lot of time thinking of the details. Let’s discuss regarding the garden, for instance. A garden has trees, flowers, shrubs as well as vines to play around with. While the larger bits of the puzzle, such as the trees, flower beds and shrubs, could be the most notable portions of the garden, it is the nicely placed vines that tie in the entire concept. Try using a Wisteria vine to create a touch of color in the many green dominated areas just like the porch or the fence. These basic touches can really tie up your designs and fill in those big bland gaps.

If you have lovely trees and flower beds, they can truly make your garden shine. However, if you have a lot of green in between, then that can really mess up the whole harmony of the area. Check out a honeysuckle vine and see if it fits your design concept as well as these vibrant bells truly pop in a backdrop of green. Create your own living gazebo by installing chicken wire domes that these vines may creep on and cover, creating a romantic nook that you could share with your loved one or rest with a book under. There are lots of ways that vines could enhance your design as long as you utilize them well.

Just keep in mind that it is all in the details and how you fill in those small gaps. Designing your very own garden is an artistic expression in itself. Much like painting an image or making music, you utilize many parts and combine them inharmonious ways to make a thing of beauty. However a song could simply not be made of choruses by itself much like a painting can’t be dominated just by the subject. You will generally require a backdrop to make your canvass or sheet with and the few subtle aspects that bind everything and keeps the sensibility of the entire style. Go to http://www.brighterblooms.com/ and find a variety of products that you can use to fill your garden and design it in a way that you like. Make sure you plan it well so you put together a great area that is all your own to take private twilight walks in or simply while away a lazy afternoon with your partner with. Anything is definitely possible.

Vintage Dutch Windmills Will Add Style To Any Yard

A high manicured yard together with a flower bouquet and bushes are one way to spruce up your yard but so are lawn decorations. And a very popular one these days are decorative windmills. Whether you want to get a specific style to your yard, change things up a bit or just enhance what you already have, these ornamental windmills are the perfect tool to so just that.

Sizes usually range from 4 feet to 30 feet and prices can vary from 100 dollars to the thousands. It all depends on what look you are going for in your yard. Decorative windmills do not pump water. They are meant only for viewing.  They are perfect if you are trying to create a certain focal point in your lawn and the spinning fan blades can sometimes scare away animals from your vegetable garden.

Determining what size is properly for your lawn or garden is the first step. The second is determining where to locate it. It is critical to take into account the place the most wind is created in your lawn or garden. Folks do enjoy viewing the a blowing wind blowing and turning the decorative aluminum windmill fan blades.  Proper placement will not only bring lots of compliments, but it can also serve as a great conversation piece.

There are many different types of garden windmills but you may want to consider purchasing an aluminum wind mill with stainless steel nuts and bolts.  They will not rust and never need painting. You also want to make sure that when you assemble your windmill that it is properly anchored.

So if you are looking to spruce up your lawn and yard with a decorative vintage dutch windmill may be correct for you. Simply be sure to do a little research regarding the diverse sorts and measurements and scope out the perfect find in the yard.  Yet another factor to memorize with the holiday year appropriate approximately the nook…ornamental windmills generate superb and unique presents!

Care for Orchids – Before and After Blooming Orchid Care

Orchids which are given good care before and after blooming will continue on the path of their growth cycle and bloom again. Many people fear that their orchids won’t re-bloom, but this fear is unfounded if you follow some basics of orchid care.

You should start out by buying a mature plant that is either in the process of blooming or has already bloomed once. That way you guarantee a basic degree of success and should not have an orchid which never blooms. It is your efforts at orchid care which will be rewarded with its next period of flower production.

So, let’s look at some of the basic care for orchids before blooming. Orchids need a goodly amount of water but not too much water. How much is enough depends on the kind of orchid you have. For example, some orchids should get very dry before watering while others should not. If you have a moth orchid, which is one of the easiest to grow, the soil should not get overly dry nor should it ever be soggy.

The situation is much the same with orchid care and humidity. Depending on the species of orchid you have, necessary humidity levels can vary from forty to seventy percent. Most orchids tend to be on the higher end of this spectrum as they grow wild in the tropics. You need to find out what humidity level is needed for your specific type and then meet it. If you live in a cold area but have an orchid that needs warm air and a lot of humidity, you could try growing orchids in a glass home, such as a terrarium .

A terrarium, greenhouse, or other type of shelter can also help you maintain the correct temperature levels for your orchids. Again, the species of orchid will determine its favorite temperatures but a general range is sixty-five to eighty degrees. Cooler temperatures by ten or fifteen degrees overnight will aid the plant in flowering abundantly.

Another blooming requirement is bright light, but that doesn’t mean hours of direct summer sun. Too much direct sunlight can cause sunburn and scalding for orchids . Inside, you can experiment with windows, especially those facing south or you can use the terrarium or enclosure approach where you can place florescent lighting.

If you get the light just right, your orchid’s foliage will be yellowish and not dark green. Dark green means too little light and under these conditions, the orchid may not bloom.

Blooms are also dependant on a plant well-fed with plenty of fertilizer. You need to fertilize orchids every couple weeks. In most cases, use a very diluted mixture. The decision is yours whether it be organic or synthetic, such as 10-10-10, 30-10-10, or 10-10-30, but don’t let the fertilizer burn the plant.

Plants are inactive for several weeks after blooming. Continue to care for orchids normally during this time.  Depending on the type of orchid, you may need to cut off the flower stem and surrounding sheath. Other orchids do not need the stem trimmed at all. Be sure to know which orchid you have and its post-bloom process.

If your orchid has been in the same pot for two years or more, it is time to repot during the period in-between blooming. It may be too large for its pot or the medium in which it is planted may have overly decomposed. Be gentle and repot the orchid in osmunda fiber, fir bark, gravel, peat moss, or another material good for growing orchids. This should give it a good start on its next period of growth and new blooms.

Using Bark To Landscape Your Garden

Using bark is an extremely good idea for any gardener looking to landscape their property as this product has many benefits which will come to light once the landscaping has been completed. Landscaping a garden will have many tangible benefits for homeowners and the use of bark is generally a good idea for those who want a simple and effective means of insulating their borders.

Ease of installation is one of the biggest benefits that you will find from using bark as a landscaping product. It is also an extremely versatile product which can be deployed in more or less any type of garden in any sort of climate.

For those homeowners looking to landscape their garden with bark, they will be pleased to learn that not too much preparation is required – just a general weeding of the surface where it is being deployed. The use of bark in borders doesn’t preclude the growing of plant life – you will simply need to deploy the product around the area in which you wish to grow plants.

Helping to maintain the moisture levels of the plants in gardens is one of the main benefits to arise from the use of bark in landscaping – the product adds moisture to the areas it is deployed and plant life will benefit from this. Winter can be a very difficult time for the plant life in our gardens and many homeowners will use bark in their borders to help insulate their plants from the inclement, frosty conditions experience throughout winter.

One of the biggest reasons that homeowners choose to utilise bark in their gardens is because it will minimise the amount of maintenance that they need to carry out. For example, if you use bark extensively throughout your garden, it is likely to significantly reduce the amount of weeding that you need to do and, as any gardener knows, this is one of the most dreaded and laborious processes in gardening.

What Makes Good Soil for Gardeners?

Soil type is one of the most important parts of gardening, especially if you love your plants, vegetables and blooming floral displays. Soil make-up can vary drastically from one area to another, and this can make a real difference to what you decide to grow.

If you’re a novice gardener or are trying to understand the main differences between different types of soil, then there are some basic types which you can learn about.

The first kind of soil we’re talking about here is clay soil. Clay soils are called so because they are heavy in clay content, which makes them heavy, sticky and often wetter than other soils. Poor draining soils are often found to contain heavy clay content, meaning they become water-sodden much more easily. Loosening up clay soil can be achieved by the addition of sand, otherwise it can be hard to work. Well drained clay soil will make vegetation grow superbly due to the remarkable levels of plant nutrients in clay compounds.

Sand heavy soils are often much thinner and grittier than clay soils, draining well and offering less nutrients for plants The addition of organic matter to sandy soil will enable it to retain moisture and plant nutrients making it a great for growing and easy to work.

Avoiding chalky soil is sound advice for gardeners because these soils make for poor quality. Soil with a high alkaline chalk content usually contains many stones that often lead to dry soil and it also doesn’t let plants get the nutrients they need.

These are just some of the types of soil that one can encounter with others being peaty and silty soils. Almost all soil can be utilised by skilful gardeners, but chalky soil can require so many additional nutrients and organic matter that it makes the job seem worthless.