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Ways to deter garden thieves

Once upon a time, the worst that could happen to your garden was that someone might dig up a few of your prize daffodils. Times, though, have changed, and today’s green-fingered thieves go equipped with devices a lot more sophisticated than just a small trowel and crossed fingers. They think nothing of removing hanging baskets by the lorryload.

Recently, an organised gang was suspected of stealing wisteria from gardens in Hampstead, north London. Plus, if a sculpture or stone statue is too heavy to move by hand, they won’t hesitate to bring in a bulldozer or small crane. They wait until you are away, and tell any inquiring neighbours that you have decided to get rid of your solid brass Venus de Milo, or collection of gnomes.

One home owner, for example, woke to find that both his 6ft bay trees, which cost £200 each, and took two burly men to install, had been removed in the night. Another unfortunate couple came back from holiday to find both their greenhouse and roses had been removed. According to crime statistics, each year, one in seven homes has

Ways to Grow Strawberries

Strawberry shortcake, homemade strawberry ice cream, strawberry jam and preserves, chocolate dipped strawberries – what could be better? How about growing your very own strawberry crop? All that luscious flavor just steps from your back door, can’t you almost taste them?

Strawberries are herbaceous perennials which may be cultivated in pots or in the ground. There are 3 different types of strawberry plants : june-bearing, ever-bearing and alpine. Your Southern States dealer can help you decide which types will meet your needs.

June-bearing strawberries produce most of their fruit during a 2-3 week period anywhere from the last part of May to the beginning of July depending on growing conditions and weather. Some varieties will produce a smaller amount of fruit again in the fall.

Ever-bearing varieties produce most of their fruit in the fall after a 2 month rest period. This follows their first fruiting in summer which produces a more sporadic, smaller crop. They grow best in areas with mild fall weather without frost.

Alpine strawberries produce small fruit all season.

Planting

Crop rotation is essential to successful

Benefits of Organic Mulch

Organic mulches are mulches that are made from previously living materials, such as pine bark or wood chips. They come in many varieties and textures.

Most gardeners know that a good mulch will help to prevent the germination of weeds, but there are many other benefits to having a good layer of mulch over the bare soil areas in your landscape:

  • Organic mulches decompose over time. This adds nutrients to the top layer of the soil, eventually creating a layer of rich, fertile humus.
  • Mulch protects the soil from compaction due to heavy rains or harsh sun.
  • It helps retain oxygen in the soil.
  • A good layer of mulch helps to prevent erosion by absorbing rainfall and preventing water runoff.
  • Soil stays damp longer after watering or rainfall because mulch helps prevent evaporation. This aids in water conservation during dry periods.
  • Mulch shelters beneficial organisms such as earthworms and ground dwelling spiders that help to control harmful insect populations.
  • Some mulches have scents which help to deter rodent and feline pests.
  • A circle of mulch around trees and woody shrubs helps to protect plant

Steps for Big Garlic

Garlic is one of the easiest veggies to grow, but sometimes those big green tops yield a harvest of disappointingly small heads. After nearly a year of patiently watering, weeding and fertilizing, we want large flavorful garlic for our favorite recipes! Here’s 9 steps to take, from pre-planting preparation through harvest, to help you grow your biggest garlic heads yet.

In addition to following all of the steps outlined below, it is important to plant your garlic at the right time. Plant garlic in the Fall (September and October are the best months to plant), it should be at least 2 weeks before your first frost of the season. This affords your garlic the best possible chances to withstand Winter conditions by giving it ample time to establish. November is late to plant Garlic, December is marginal.

1. Select the best variety for your region

Not all garlic grows equally well everywhere. Most garlic requires sufficient cold temperatures in winter to develop good heads in spring, but some varieties are more tolerant of warm weather. Hardneck garlic needs exposure to 40 to 50°F for 6 to 12 weeks for the biggest heads.

Resolutions about Gardeners

A new year typically brings about resolutions right? Be they for losing weight, being more organized or simply an overall “being better” wish, resolutions are good goals to have.

Gardeners are no exception to wishing for the better; better gardens, better planning, better record-keeping, etc. Following are five resolutions that we wish every gardener, no matter their level of expertise, will embrace in the new year:

1. I will not blame myself for gardening failures. Oftentimes, Mother Nature is not our friend when it comes to gardening. Or life gets in the way. We do not want you to despair! Simply try again and learn from experience. Your garden, and your gardening friends, are both extremely forgiving.

2. I will not be afraid to ask questions. How else can you learn? Take advantage of the experience of your neighbor, your aunt, the garden center employee or the local extension agent. If they are like typical garden fanatics, they will appreciate your interest and be flattered that you want to learn from them. And learn you will!

3. I will try something new. This is kind of a no-brainer, right? Have you ever met a

Growing Herbs Tips

To grow this tender annual from seed, sow in flats about 6 weeks before last frost. Sow seeds and cover with the growing medium to about twice the depth of the seed. Keep soil at 70-72 degrees F, and keep moist. Basil seedlings are very sensitive and most losses occur due to low moisture and low temperatures. If not crowded in the seed flat, do not thin, but let them grow to 3 to 4 inches before transplanting. Basil likes the warmth of full sun to grow best. Lift transplants carefully by the leaves instead of the stem. Set outdoors only after soil and air temperatures are warm. One chilly night can set plants back.

Basil can be directly sown in the garden after soil has warmed up and nights are not too cool. Be sure to sow to a depth of twice the size of the seed or heavy rains may wash the seeds away. Purple basil, lacking chlorophyll, is more susceptible to shock in the early stages.

Sweet green basil can be dried, frozen in ice cubes, or used fresh. Blended with pine nuts, oil and cheese, this basil is the prime ingredient in

Ways to Grow Sweet Peas

In the Victorian language of flowers, sweet peas symbolized delicate and blissful pleasures.  How very apt for this delicate flower with a blissfully pleasurable fragrance.  Whether you intend to send someone a secret message with your bouquet, or just enjoy the color and scent as you pass by a trellis full of sweet peas, this heirloom bloom is a perfect addition to every garden.

So Many Colors to Sow!

Sweet peas are native to many parts of the world, including Peaceful Valley’s own hometown Grass Valley, California, where Lathyrus latifolius, also called the everlasting pea, sends beautiful sprawling vines across the hillsides in early summer.  A perennial unscented sweet pea that is native to many parts of the U.S., it was much loved by Thomas Jefferson who cultivated it in his own garden.

The classic annual garden sweet pea Lathyrus odoratus is originally from Italy, where local wild flowers were collected and bred for new colors, sweeter scent, stronger stalks, and other desirable traits.  Many cultivars now available were bred in England, where the sweet pea has been a garden favorite for centuries.

Lathyrus odoratus is what is most commonly thought

Ways to Grow Onions

Selecting the right variety for your growing region is important to the success of growing a big bulb. There are short-day, intermediate-day and long-day varieties and you should choose the one for your area.

Soil Preparation

Onions prefer loose, well-drained soils that are high in fertility, slightly acidic (pH between 6.2-6.8), adequately irrigated and in full sun. The looser the composition of your soil, the larger your onion bulbs will grow. Prepare your bed by turning under animal manure or compost, making sure that it is fully broken down before planting. Compost composed of cedar or redwood is not an acceptable substitute for high quality compost.

Onions are heavy feeders, so provide plenty of nitrogen and phosphorus. A good rule of thumb is to add one cup of equal parts blood meal and bone meal every 10 feet of row.

Planting & Growing Onion Transplants

The potential for fungal diseases like downy mildew and pink root can be greatly reduced by avoiding beds where onions, garlic and other alliums have been grown within the last two years. This time period is a basic rule of thumb but, in general, “the longer the better”.

Organic Gardening

Organic gardening has been around for centuries. It’s certainly not new, but gardening without artificial additives has made a comeback in recent years. And there is a good reason – organic vegetables are healthier and tastier than non-organic varieties. In addition, organic gardening benefits the environment. Whether you are planning your first organic garden, or you have been gardening naturally for years, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Soil preparation

Plants get their nutrients from the ground, so it is imperative that you properly prepare the soil in order to be successful with any gardening. Soil that is hard or dense deprives the plants of oxygen. Before planting, dig and loosen the dirt for better air circulation. Next, mix nutrients into the soil. Do not underestimate the value of this step; the success of your garden depends on healthy soil. When the soil is properly enriched, it produces healthier plants that are more resistant to insects and disease.

Natural fertilizers

Over time, the soil can become depleted of nutrients so it is important to use natural fertilizers for your organic garden. You can buy commercial organic fertilizers or create your own

The stories sunflower

The storied sunflower is a truly incredible plant; tall and majestic, a few sunflowers make any garden a must –see. The centerpiece of any self respecting still-life it is prized and heavily cultivated for its seeds and oil and pastoral images of acres of sunflowers all with their heads held high toward the sun is an iconic image of late summer in many places throughout Ontario.

Though the most famous image of sunflowers hails from a Dutch painter, sunflowers are actually native to North America. It is believed they were cultivated as far back as 2,600 B.C.E. in Mexico, then throughout the southern regions of what is now the U.S. and were imported to Europe in the 16th Century. The most common and most cultivated sunflower, which can easily reach heights of 3 metres, is the annual plant Helianthus annuus. Over seventy other  species exist as well, annuals and perrenials, garden varieties of all shapes and sizes.

The reason we call them sunflowers is obvious; the Greek scientific name for them is Helianthus, literally sun+flower, so named because when they are immature they face and follow the sun’s movement (as it were) from east to west,