Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Backyard Garden Ideas

Spring is finally here, and it’s time to start planning our gardens!

It’s hard to believe 10 years ago I was just starting on my first vegetable garden, and attempting to overwhelm myself with too many varieties of plants. Luckily my dad stepped in with a tiller and tomato plants, or we wouldn’t have had a good harvest at all.

Over the years we’ve tried several different types of gardens and techniques. Some have failed, some have not. The important thing is we’ve learned from our mistakes.

For those just starting out with a beginner backyard vegetable garden, I have three suggestions.

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great starter plant for beginners or with limited space. It’s recommended you start with a live plant from your local nursery, or start your plant inside. Planting seeds directly in the ground doesn’t work as well, although it can be done.

These little buggers grow almost anywhere, and don’t take up a whole lot of space. I know the popular thing is to buy those new “hanging” tomato plants, but I’ve yet to hear anything good about the way they grow or how much they produce. With any common soil, though, you can grow your own tomatoes in the dirt. Sure it’s not as “clean”, but who wants to stay dirt-free while gardening? Isn’t the point to play in the dirt? ;)

2. Peppers
These work especially well for those with very limited space or a small backyard, and for those who can easily pull weeds around the pepper plants. They take a little extra work sometimes, but are worth it. Especially in the midwest, peppers are slightly picky. With proper care, though, any variety can be a hearty plant with decent yeild.

Peppers are also a perfect compliment to your tomatoes (the two together make EXCELLENT homemade salsa!). Just make sure you leave enough room between them, or the tomatoes will take over and kill your pepper plants.

3. Pumpkins

If you are really ambitious or have the space, you may also want to think about planting pumpkins. These come in handy around Halloween, which is about the time you’ll see your best harvest.

A huge warning with pumpkins, though – they will take up A LOT of space, and will grow in places you may not want them. Also, if your area has a problem with squash bugs, you may end up with nothing (it took us two tries of having the squash bugs eat everything before we finally gave up). However, some areas have no problems growing pumpkins, so it’s something you can try if you have the room to do so.

Looking forward to hearing your backyard garden ideas!

Gardening Supplies Online

Even though I’ve been a bit lazy this year doesn’t mean everyone else has. To be honest, I haven’t even started planning my garden, let alone buying up supplies. About all I’ve accomplished is on a whim grabbing a package of mixed pepper seeds. It looked fun, and I figure I can just toss them in the ground to see what comes up.

We need more than just pepper seeds, though. We also need some more gardening tools since mine all have seemed to walk away. That’s when I turn to one of my favorite stores for gardening supplies online – Nature Hills Nursery.

This store has got just about everything you could think of for plants, seeds, and trees. Not just dried bulbs and seeds either, but LIVE plants. They’ve also got books, weeding supplies, and garden decorations. About the only thing I couldn’t find here is a tiller, but I’d recommend finding that on Amazon anyway.

Be sure to check them out if your shopping for gardening supplies online!

DIY Tips for Gardening

It’s about that time of year again when we have to start planning our gardens and figuring just what we plan to plant.

Instead of re-hashing what we covered last year, we figured we’d just give you a few links to our 2009 gardening series. It covered all the main topics and ideas for planting flowers, herbs, and vegetables both from seeds and bulbs/plants.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to request a free catalog from Nature Hills. Sometimes the best ideas for what to plant come from just browsing a catalog! Plus of course they have some really interesting plants and seeds for sale, so do check them out after you request a catalog.

To start the series, we started with the obvious – planting seeds inside. This included flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Generally on spring break is when we start planning our garden, and planting all our seeds inside. Mid to late March, basically. Sometimes we hold off until April if it’s been a pretty ugly winter and we know we won’t see our garden under all the snow until late May.

To finish up the series, we covered some information on flower bulbs and vegetable plants. These of course you’ll hold off on until late spring when all the threat of frost is gone. Although flower bulbs can also be planted in late fall, but if your doing your garden in the spring, best to wait until frost has past.

For seeds, bulbs, plants, and other gardening supplies, be sure to see Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Gardening Ideas Series – Vegetable Plants

This is part six of our Gardening Ideas Series, which talks about where to find vegetable plants online and offline. See the rest of the series in our Gardening section.

While I personally buy my vegetable plants in local greenhouses, I know not everyone has that option. Which is why Nature Hills is a great place to look when buying vegetable plants online. Click the banner above for more information on their selection, including organic plants of all kinds.

This year we plan to plant our three favorite vegetable plants. We didn’t start them inside because it’s just easier to buy them, and we know they’ll grow well if we do. Here are those three:

- Tomatoes, Better Boys
Easy to grow just about anywhere, although it’s been our experience that a new garden freshly dug up will product the absolute best crops. The first year we planted tomatoes, we had hundreds (no joke!). This particular kind are our favorites, and perfect for salsa.

- Green Bell Peppers
Also great for salsa, thus the reason we buy them every year. In the past we’ve used them for other cooking as well. Sometimes peppers can be quite fickle though, and not every year is a good year. Keep a close eye on them as they are growing and keep them free of weeds.

- Jalapeno
Nothing fancy or extremely hot, just a regular Jalapeno (sometimes reffered to as “Early Jalapeno”). These are the best for salsa if you don’t use too many. It can also be a finicky plant, so keep it free of weeds and bugs. Also watch you don’t mow over it. Yes, I did that to a plant one year. Oops.
As mentioned previously in the series, we are keeping the tomatoes separate from the peppers on either ends of the “old part” of the garden. The tomatoes need a whole lot more room than the pepper plants do, and those pepper plants won’t get to big at all. You also need to make sure these get full sun and no shade from those tomato plants (or anything else for that matter).

For more vegetable plant ideas, be sure to visit Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Gardening Ideas Series – Flower Bulbs

This is part five of our Gardening Ideas Series, which is all about finding bulbs for your flower garden. To see all the past ideas, be sure to see our Gardening Section.

Perennials are probably my favorite types of flowers, since they require little to no effort on my part and can fill in anywhere in your flower garden.

While some flower seeds are classified as perennials due to their ability to reseed themselves, your best bet for a beautiful flower is to buy bulbs (or get starts from friends and neighbors, of course).

There are simply too many different types for us to list here, so I recommend heading over to Nature Hills Nursery, Inc. to see what they have available. Walmart is another option, although there’s a good chance they wouldn’t grow. Best to stick to trusted sources or live plants in your area.

Around my yard I’ve let the tiger lilies take over for the most part, but we’ve also added Iris and will be adding Bleeding hearts (which is more of a plant than a flower, but I did get a start of it like you would a flower bulb). Aside from those, I also like to plant some annuals around so my flower garden is never the same two years in a row. ;)

I’ll be replacing the tiger lily slowly with other plants, and there’s no shortage of them online. Nature Hills currently has over 300 varieties to choose from, so you are sure to find flower bulbs to plant in your yard! I’ll be hitting this site up soon when I’m ready to add more.

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