Wednesday, August 20, 2014

President George Washington Mt. Vernon and an old Tulip Poplar Tree

Ok, we all know the story about young George Washington cutting down the cherry tree but, did You Know that still standing at President George Washington's Mt. Vernon Estate is one of his favorite trees? 

Our beloved President Washington truly enjoyed the tulip poplar tree. It's affectionately named for its tulip shaped, greenish-yellow to orange flowers. 

This is one of two Tulip Poplar trees George planted in 1785 in his front yard (President Washington died in 1799). The long front yard was designed to create a grand entrance to the mansion as travelers came up. The yard was called a bowling green, where games could be played. It was lined with trees, including these two tulip poplars, on either side of the green to gradually narrow towards the house from both sides to direct attention to the grand house.

The tulip poplar is easily recognized by its beautiful late spring flower show and its almost equally vibrant fall colors. This tree is the tallest of North American hardwoods. It often growsup to 100 feet or more and it's used in making furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments, and wood veneer. 

In the early history of the United States, tulip poplar trees grew to be giants up to 200 feet tall or more! It's most known on the Eastern sea board and is most loved for its large, yellow and orange tulip shaped flowers. The flowers often bloom in May and early June. The trees are absolutely stunning. You can see them from afar. 

Tulip poplar trees grow in a pyramidal shape when young and oval at maturity. They absolutely maintains their beauty throughout the year. Summer leaves are shimmering green, fall foliage is bright gold, and they attract wildlife galore! They also have a small fruit which remains on the trees long into the winter. 
The natural location of this hardy, long-lived tree is throughout the Eastern US, from southern New England, and Michigan, southward between the coast and the Mississippi River to Louisiana and the northern half of Florida. Tulip poplar are also called Tuliptree. They're so attractive, easy to grow and are great in large landscapes and parks. when enough space is available for so grand a tree. (Grows in hardiness zones 4 to 9.)

President George Washington's  Mt. Vernon, Virginia Home
Mt. Vernon lower garden

If you've never seen one in person, do a Google search. They're very beautiful and to see one in person is awesome and truly moving. Tulip poplar are of American history. They're part of the American quilt. They're also an honored tree in some prestigious gardens of Europe. 
The lumber industry often calls them yellow-poplar. They're perfect for making furniture or even boats. In Tennessee they're called canoe wood because Native Americans and early settlers carved canoes from its light, buoyant trunks.
A cool fact is that woodsman and frontiersman Daniel Boone chose such a canoe to carry his own family from Kentucky to the western frontier. Whether you call them tulip poplar, tulip tree, canoe wood they're historically known for having a wide range of medicinal uses. They're leaves, sap, bark, seeds and pollen are made into teas, ointments, salves, compresses, powders, liquid solutions etc.

George Washington admired this tree because of it's beauty, it's tall stature, medicinal properties and the advantage to attracting wildlife at Mt. Vernon. The still living giant tulip poplar that he and his family planted in 1785 is being selected as Mount Vernon’s official Bicentennial Tree. 
Trees and shrubs can are just as much of a historical icon as a person or place in America. Other trees still in existence planted by then General Washington are pecan, walnut and chinquapin oak trees. 
Each year over one million people visit Mt. Vernon for its gardens, agriculture and horticulture before wanting to see the actual house tour. For more information about Mt. Vernon, President George Washington, historical collections and education research visit:

Consider this all-American classic tree if you reside in hardiness zone 4 - 9 and you have enough space for one of these grand trees.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Your House May Be Toxic - Plants That Clean Indoor Air Pollution

Your House May Be Making You Sick

Get rid of what ails you. Cleaning products like paints, particle board, plastics, carpeting, paint and even fabrics release chemicals into the air inside of your house. These chemicals may be annoying or even causing your allergies, headaches, asthma, skin rashes and eye infections. 

Too much moisture and heat can cause mold spores which can cause an entire list of illnesses. Fortunately there are houseplants such as spider plants (top) and bamboo palm (right), snake plant (left), as well as their soil micro organisms that can help to clean indoor air pollution by breaking down particular harmful gases. 

For better air quality in your home, be sure to place at least one of these wonderful houseplants every 100 square feet to clean the air. Each plant should be in a pot that is at least 6 to 8 inches in diameter.

Plants and trees breath in our pollutants such as carbon dioxide and omit oxygen. No one, including myself ever thinks about the indoor pollution that often makes us sick. 

The next time you paint, get new carpeting or even new drapes, think about getting a new household companion that will recycle your indoor air that will beautify your space and help you feel much better. 

Plants Recommended By NASA as Indoor Air Filters

1. Bamboo Palm: According to NASA, it removes formaldehyde and is also said to act as a natural humidifier.

2. Snake Plant: Found by NASA to absorb nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde.

3. Areca Palm: One of the best air purifying plants for general air cleanliness.

4. Spider Plant: Great indoor plant for removing carbon monoxide and other toxins or impurities. Spider plants are one of three plants NASA deems best at removing formaldehyde from the air.

5. Peace Lily: Peace lilies could be called the “clean-all.” They’re often placed in bathrooms or laundry rooms because they’re known for removing mold spores. Also know to remove formaldehyde and polyethylene.

6. Gerbera Daisy: Not only do these gorgeous flowers remove benzene from the air, they’re known to improve sleep by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off more oxygen over night.

Be sure to read the NASA Clean Air Study

It's important to choose an air purifying houseplant that you're attracted to. You have to live with it and care for it.. it's best that you actually like it. Your air filtering plant will like you back just fine. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How To Get Rid of Bamboo

So you thought bamboo would be cool? 

It's great to look at, a really good privacy screen and the shoots can be used for DIY projects as like free trellis for your garden pees. No one told you at your local garden center that bamboo was invasive or that it can be expensive to remove. 
What was fun, exotic and interesting to grow has now become your biggest headache!
A running bamboo plant can be fast spreading and most aggressive. You can plant it in one spot in your yard and all of a sudden it's showing up in all kinds of places where you don't want it to. The secret to getting rid of bamboo is controlling it  and knowing it grows.
Bamboo goes through two growth cycles each year. In the Spring, it puts all of its energy into new straight canes and only a little bit of energy into the roots. As the season progresses, more energy is then put into rooting. The thin roots spread out underground making a fortress of strong roots. Less energy is being sent up to the new canes because, the rooting system is trying to establish a colony of sorts.

It's important to know that the roots of bamboo spread and grow by way of underground rhizomes or roots. These rhizomes will travel a many long distances and then form a node. At that node, they will either form a new cane, or make a new section of rhizome and continue to travel. This is how it is able to show up some distance away from the main plant. You can literally plant bamboo in your front yard and it will appear in your backyard or your neighbor's yard or the yard across the street. Most people think that bamboo spreads through seeds. Nope.. bamboo spreads aggressively through their rooting system.
I noticed that even my local gophers and rabbits didn't even like the bamboo. They didn't even like the new, soft, and tender shoots. In the back of my mind.. I knew that I had a problem. 
From experience, getting rid of bamboo isn't a weekend project. There are several key strategies that you can use to get rid of it.There's hope in your bamboo eradicating future.
Southern California Land Management absolutely hates bamboo. It spreads through river bottoms, hillsides and neighborhoods. The hot arid climate, particularly during October - January when the Santa Ana winds blow, dry the bamboo out and it can explode into fire through combustion or from static caused from an animal's hair rubbing against the plant. Many wild fire's are started by rabbits having static in their fur. It's just like when you were a kid and you rubbed your feet against a rug or carpet than touched your sister in the ear.  
The first think you need to do when combating bamboo is build a containment system. Just like a forest fire, you want to keep it contained so it doesn't continue to spread while you work on it. 
Here comes the part that you didn't want to hear. You'll then need to dig out as much of the bamboo and roots as you can by hand or by machine. The goal here is to weaken the mother plant. The more roots and leafy green growth you remove, the less energy can go into the plant to rebuild it and spread. 
I'm sad that I have to break your heat and tell you the bad news. You really do need to dig out all of the roots and cane; otherwise, the remnants can form new independent bamboo plants which will again spread like 'wild fires.' Bamboo can also seem like it's gone but, it's been taking its time to grow new roots and rebuild a networking system.
Searching out roots and new cane shoots, digging and ripping them out of the ground is something you'll have to do several times. I guarantee the first time won't do the trick
Lastly, you may come to the end of your robe and just get so damn frustrated. You're mad at yourself or for whomever planted the bamboo and mad that the bamboo is winning the battle. 
Your last weapon against the bamboo rhizomes from spreading and to continue to spread for years to come is to use an herbicide. Your last defense may be any product that will kill grass. Any herbicide that kills grass will definitely kill bamboo. 
Chemicals of course aren't eco friendly but, products like Roundup or Killex are most effective at killing bamboo. 
I thought bamboo was beautiful and would be a great way of creating a natural privacy without having to build a fence. It wasn't until the second year of having the bamboo when I noticed mine was appearing everywhere and heading for the neighbors yard. 

I dug and pulled the rhizomes out until I just couldn't take the back breaking work. I finally resorted to using Roundup. It worked. I felt guilty for using it. I had to lay a plastic cover over most of the dug up areas because, birds were wanting to look for fresh worms and bugs. 
So, For two years I enjoyed the bamboo and for one year I lived in turmoil having to be a weekend warrior fighting to get my yard back from the forces of the almighty bamboo. Sometimes.. to win the battle you just have to give into the weapons of 'grass' destruction.
I was satisfied using a chemical not only did I save my back and hands from wear and tear, I got my weekends back and the Roundup seemed to have dissipated without harm coming to any birds. A fresh sprinkling of grass seed filled the patches where we tore up the lawn just fine until my St. Augustine grass grew back. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tribute To Robin Williams

Robin McLaurin Williams
July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014
What Dreams May Come

I know this may seem odd to have a post about American Actor, Comedian, Philanthropist Robin Williams on a garden blog but, it's not odd to me. 

I began gardening to relieve stress and to use landscaping, weed pulling, seed planting, watering etc as an outlet to forget life tragedies and complications for a bit. It works for me and I often reap more benefits from gardening than a bounty of vegetables or a beautiful display of cut flowers.

The same goes for movies. I go to the movies to laugh, cry, release emotional pain or stress. There are particular actors (artists) that can make you feel like you matter, that can help you understand the difficulties of life or remind us to celebrate what we have in this great world.

Robin Williams is my favorite actor. I was completely stunned to hear the tragic news of his passing. My prayers tonight will include a blessing for Robin Williams and for his family and children. 

I've enjoyed all of Robin's movies. I've laughed, cried, nearly peed my pants during his interviews and guest appearances but, there's is one particular movie that opened my mind to glory and awakened me to what really matters in this life besides social networking, keeping up with the Jones' or my worth being the size of home and neighborhood that I live in. I started a small backyard garden after being inspired by Robin Williams and his roll in the movie starring Robin Williams is called 'What Dreams May Come'. 

What Dreams May Come

Without giving much away, 'What Dreams May Come' is a fantasy drama based loosely upon the book 'What Dreams May Come' by Richard Matheson. Robin Williams truly brought forth every human emotion as his character named Chris who is a physician who already had doubts about God and Heaven's existence. 

On the very day that he and his wife decide not to divorce after going through a long battle of morning over their children dying in an auto accident,  Chris is ironically killed in a car accident himself.

Chris didn't realize that he was dead and walked the earth confused as to why no one was interacting with him on Earth. He finally sees his wife Annie and every time he tries to make contact with her, things worsen emotionally for her. His attempt to communicate with her causes extreme pain for his wife. He decides to move on and awakes in Heaven. This is where Chris learns life lessons and sees the beauty and glory that awaits us all.
The visual effects, the colors of plants and trees, the performance art, paintings, the plot and Robin Williams performance in this movie is absolutely God smacking.   It awoke my senses. It shook my reality. The commonly shared world philosophies regarding life after death is represented in this movie. The movie is an absolute roller coaster of human emotions.

Robin Williams excelled at what he did. He was a comedian, philanthropist an actor a friend and father. All those aspects of his life and talent matters. It matters to me, it matters to millions and  millions of people across many generations of people.. humans. 

We're losing upstanding actors with true talent from the generations of people who still gave a shit about life. They were the talented people who paid their dues. Who worked hard for their craft. Times have changed in the entertainment industry. The population is slowly forgetting these true artists and are more attracted to the no talent reality stars. The stress has to be enormous for those in the entertainment industry to keep up with Kardashians or to compete with other celebrities in airing their dirty family laundry on national tv.
Older actors and actors with true talent were revered in this country. Now reality stars and their lap dogs are revered. If you're older than 30 than you're 'old' to casting directors. If you don't have tits and ass to show off or if you have crows feet then the calls and scripts start to slow down.
Robin Williams made a mark in my life. I know this sounds off-the-wall but, he inspired me to grow a tomato plant. The gardens of heaven, the life lessons and Robin Williams performance in the movie 'What Dreams May Come' lead me to living a less complicated life. 

If it weren't for him choosing the script. I may no have gone to see the movie. I've been a long time Robin Williams fan and it was his mug that lead me to the movie theater. His performance in 'What Dreams May Come'  is what inspired me to live a less complicated life. Before I was working 60 hours a week, living to work just to own stuff. I was wore out from having to compete to own stuff, or to have the best vacation stories and keeping up with social networking.

I now live slower. I enjoy my family and friends and all of the wonderful moments and free stuff that I get every day as like; butterflies bobbing about, green grass, taking a moment to poke at a cactus, seeing curious baby lizards on my fence, I look up and  to notice the colors around me more, I stop to taste and smell things more often.
I often sit in my backyard with a martini in my hand. I like to visit with people, listen to music or nature and enjoying thinking about what dreams may come for me. All this because of one man from Chicago, Illinois who dared to live big through the talent God gave him. 
Robin Williams put his heart and sole into every character.. into every gig. He was a comedic genius. His high energy and compassion is rare in humanity. He's left a tremendous legacy for all of us. He was funny but most importantly he was always kind.  

I implore you to watch any movie, tv show or interview with Robin Williams in it. Whether he's the leading man or a small bit character, whether it's a block buster movie like 'Good Morning Vietnam' or a B movie like 'Club Paradise', I absolutely guarantee that you'll forget your woes. 

Everyone of us on this great planet has some sort of problem or issue that often burdens us. After watching anything with Robin Williams in it.. . You'll learn to breath again. Tomorrow will be a better day. 

Robin Williams you are brave, you are loved, you are good and you are the what dreams are made of. You gave yourself to the world and the world sends their prayers and regards to you.

God bless you and keep you. May you enjoy Heaven and continue to inspire generations whizzing about heaven in that egg shaped space ship of yours. Your energy will always live on.


Patch Adams

Robin I won't forget you. Every time I look at a tomato plant.. I'll always remember you and I'll be sure to plant a tomato plant just for you on every Red Nose Day (March 13th). 


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Eating Vegetables is Your Secret Weapon to Losing Belly and Back Fat

Eat Vegetables for Weight Loss

Every backyard gardener knows the power of a vegetable. Many people who grow their own vegetables know the positive feeling of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Home grown vegetables just taste better too.

We all know somewhere in the back of our minds that we should be incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our daily diet. Plant based foods are exactly what the doctors order. 

Fruits and vegetables are medicinal and can be used for various specific purposes as like preventing disease and illness, use as sun screen, made into skin and cosmetics products, are the perfect source for vitamins and minerals etc.

But did you that there are specific fruits and vegetables that’ll keep unwanted pounds at bay? There are vegetables that will help you lose weight effortlessly. Dieting, losing weight and managing weight loss can be easy if you eat particular fruits and vegetables weekly if not daily.

How It Works

Vegetable incorporated into a diet promotes rapid weight loss by filling you with low calorie and high fiber options. The goal is to reach nine servings of fruit and vegetables daily within a week or two, with five from the vegetable group and four from the fruit group.

Over the week you gradually replace the food you normally eat with the fruit and vegetable options. You continue to eat the nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily until the desired weight loss is achieved.

Almost all nutritionists and physicians promote fruits and vegetables for antioxidants, vitamin and mineral packed to keep our bodies healthy, shiny, firm and pretty.

Imagine a dinner plate sitting in front of you. Your plate should be 1/2 full of vegetables and the remaining ¼ should be a protein and ¼ starches.

Doctors will tell you that you can fill your tummy every day and all day long as long as those vegetables aren't creamed with butters or milk products, topped with cheese and sauces or made with a lot of sugar or fats. Don’t way them down with what you’re trying to get rid of yourself.

Vegetable will feed your body the nutrients it needs to work properly. You’re less likely to binge eat or crave more food If you eat the right amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that come from vegetables.

List of vegetables

Here’s a list of fruits and vegetables that are promoted by health practitioners. Don’t worry about counting calories and fat grams as long as most of the vegetables are being prepared with common sense. Vegetables can actually turn into natural fat burners or metabolism boosters as well as a nuclear reactor for your immune system.

Beans Sprouts
These refer to sprouting from mung beans, alfalfa, lentils, chickpeas and soy beans. Sprouting actually helps to turn the starches, oils and other nutrients in beans to vitamins, enzymes and other forms of proteins, minerals and sugars. A single helping of fresh sprouted mung beans contains about 3/4 of the daily requirement of vitamin C. Sprouting increases the vitamin B present in beans, including thiamin, folate, B6 and biotin and produces less intestinal wind when consumed. Being low in calories, packed with vitamins and cheap in prices, they're affordable vegetables that help lose weight.

Broccoli – Belly Fast Buster
Many vegetables carry a lot of fiber which helps you feel full and satisfied when combined with a bit of protein. I highly recommend broccoli  because, of its high nutritional value .Broccoli rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, contains some protein, all-important B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, chromium and calcium etc.

You'll lose weight with broccoli when it stops you from eating more food. It gives your body exactly what it needs and so, it’s you’re not going to get those annoying cravings for more food that won’t go away.

You'll also gain health with its antioxidant properties and anti-carcinogenic powers. Broccoli no matter what dish you put it in or eat it steamed or raw is a must- have ingredient in your weight loss diet.

Offer you vitamin A, iron and fiber.

An 8-inch stalk of celery contains approximately 6 calories. But the mere act of digesting this stalk burns more than 6 calories, resulting in a calorie deficit. In other words, you'll use up more calories from your energy reserve (fat stores and glycogen) to break down celery, achieving weight loss. Not only that, celery provides a good source of vitamin C and fiber (as in Kelp), and fiber is one key ingredient to help you detox and lose weight more effectively. It contains a unique oil that helps to relax your muscles, thereby improving blood flow and regulating blood pressure. It's especially good for you if you're having hypertension.

Yale Studies are showing that a daily serving of corn can actually reduce belly fat. Sure corn has sugar in it but, there's also enzymes and particular starches at a cellular level that aid in losing body fat. Google it.

Don't confuse high fructose corn syrup with corn on the cop. Skip the butter and salt too. For centuries people have been eating corn and have had thin frames. 

This vegetable is rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, glucose, protein, vitamin A & C, carotene and fiber. It stimulates the digestive tract and prevents constipation by moving along unwanted nutrients, including fats to be passed out of the body.

Collard Greens
Collard greens are packed with proteins and amino acids, and have a low glycemic index. Some of the minerals and nutrients found in collard greens include thiamin, niacin, potassium, vitamins like A, C, E, K, riboflavin, B6, folate, calcium, and manganese. Similarly, leeks are good alternatives to onions and are used in fish pie with carrots and other vegetables.


Cucumber contains sterols which have the ability to lower cholesterol and prevent carbohydrates from converting to fats. Filling yet low in calories, it's a great food for weight loss. It helps in digestion and has a cleansing effect on your bowel too.

How does kelp help you lose weight? Besides being low in cholesterol, kelp is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium and minerals such as iodine.

Iodine in kelp helps your thyroid to function properly. It stimulates a hormone produced by the thyroid gland that's responsible for boosting metabolism, so you'll burn more calories. If your weight gain is related to thyroid disorder, kelp can help you lose weight. It has also been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. However, too much iodine can have a negative effect on your thyroid. Therefore, moderate consumption is the key to losing weight with kelp.

They're loaded with fiber and almost zero calories. They are the backbone to any salad or food wrap. Skip the bread and use lettuce instead.

90% of a mushroom is water but, they are a useful source of vitamin B and fiber.  Mushrooms help you lose weight by reducing high levels of blood lipids (or "triglyceride") and bad cholesterol, while increasing the good cholesterol or HDL. Mushrooms are being studies for their cancer fighting effects.

Onions and Leeks
Loaded with flavor an help control cravings as well as satisfaction. Onions are great for respiratory system as well.

They’re high in vitamins C, potassium and iron. They’re also a good source of fiber. They’re best cooked in their skins.

Dried peas, beans and lentils all contain protein though they do not contain the ideal amounts of amino acids necessary for growth and maintaining healthy muscle tissue and organs. Soy beans are the exception as they contain a wholesome balance of amino acids. They also carry unsaturated fat that metabolizes your cholesterol and body fat, preventing fat buildup and thus, helping you to lose weight.

Peas alone loaded with vitamins A, B and C, Protein, Iron and enough fiber for the entire day.

Rich source of vitamin C. One contains a full 5 day's supply.

As radish is rich in vitamin C but low in calories, fats and stimulates metabolism, it's popular as a snack. However, eating too much radish is very "cooling" for the body, especially if you already have a "cool" constitution, defined in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) terms. This means that your immunity to cold and cough could be affected, especially during winter. Thus, eat them in moderation.

Spinach carries lots of fiber which helps you stay full longer and reduce the overall number of calories that you consume each day. Low-calorie intake is essential for weight loss. You can also benefit from its rich content of vitamin K and calcium which help to prevent or treat osteoporosis and the loss of bone density.
Tomatoes: A good source of both vitamins A and C and of dietary fiber.

Winter Melon
Winter melon has the ability to break down and flush out excess fat and water (your weight gain may be caused by water retention sometimes) from your body. It's also a wonderful constipation inhibitor. Frequent consumption of it will help to detoxify your system and trim up your shape.

Smart ways to prepare vegetables

Mix up your vegetables. Eat a variety and color for the best results. Don’t just live off of kale or celery.

Spicy vegetables as like pepper varieties in raw, steamed, baked, fried or even dried will help you lose weight quicker. Spicy peppers like cayenne are proven to boost  your metabolism by 25% even if you sprinkle it dry into beverages or incorporate into dishes.

Preparing Vegetables

Now that you've got your ingredients, here are a few quick and easy ways to prepare these amazing zero-calorie foods:

1. Steaming
Steaming is a great way to cook vegetables with delicate flavors and still retain all the nutrients that boiling them may diminish. Steam some green beans, asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower, and add a squeeze of lemon and unprocessed salt (full spectrum salt like Himalayan pink salt has tremendous health benefits; see below). If you want to add an Eastern flare to your dish, try steaming some broccoli and adding a bit of white pepper, diced ginger, and garlic.

2. Grilling
Summer squash, zucchini, or asparagus grilled with a light coating of butter or extra virgin olive oil make an excellent addition to any cookout. Or, if you’re cooking in, just throw them on an indoor electric grill for a great rainy day meal.

3. Make a Salad for Goodness Sake!
When was the last time you actually ate a salad? Any of the vegetables listed above can be combined to make the perfect salad. Just throw them together and you’ve got a power-packed lunch with plenty of necessary nutrients. Mix leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, carrots, and red bell pepper, and instead of a commercial dressing like ranch or thousand island, add some olive oil (which contains healthy fats), unprocessed salt, and black pepper or chili pepper, which is great for circulation and digestion. You can also add some natural sweetness with diced up apricots, strawberries, apples, or any of the other delicious fruits on the list above.


As good as they are, fruits and vegetables are not as satisfying as carbohydrate or protein rich meals. Your body will extract the nutrients and digest vegetables quicker than fatty proteins because they're loaded with fiber that's made to move through your body. 

You may feel hungry within an hour or two of eating a vegetable and fruit only meal, which makes it more tempting to binge on forbidden foods.

Move, Exercise, Don’t Sit, Stretch, Dance, Walk, Garden, Play, Run.. .

Remember, food is energy no matter if it’s a ding dongs or a vegetable. By eating more vegetables you’re feeding your body a good fuel that will enable it to burn the stored fat. Eating more vegetables is like adding a fuel and injector cleaner to your gas tank. has a really good article on other foods that are known to bust your gut and lose that difficult belly. Remember.. no pain, no gain. Daily moderate exercise is your friend.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Should You Transplant or Sow Seeds?

Should You Transplant Herbs or Sow Seeds?
If you want a faster harvest choose small plants rather than sowing seeds. I usually purchase seeds and start my own plants in containers rather than buying live plants to transplant. 

Most seeds germinate within 5 days. Before you know it, you have a lovely row of seedlings reaching for the son. Starting seeds at home is easy. You're just needing a warm well lit space to do so. 

Growing plants from seed is cost efficient and there is usually a better variety of seeds to choose from at stores and nurseries than live plants. It's fun to grow seeds indoors and within a month, you have a plant ready to be transplanted outside or re-potted into a larger container. 

Live plants are convenient. You'll get a head start on your growing season because, nurseries start seeds months before the actual planting season. 

Purchasing live plants also give you a bit of an idea of what the plant will look like at maturity and how much space it will take up in your garden plot.

If you have patience, give growing your own plants from seed a try. 

There's a benefit of purchasing plants or seeds from brick and mortar retailers as like Lowe’s, Walmart or Home Depot verses purchasing from online auctions is that stores often guarantee plants and seeds. 

Before making a purchase, be sure to consult your store’s purchase policy just in case your plants die after a few weeks of transplanting them. I recommend holding onto both your store receipt and container. Most retailers don't want the actual plant returned to them. Home Depot and Lowes are are very considerate to backyard gardeners. Their garden centers usually lead to bigger sales inside the stores. If you going to plant simple seeds.. you're going to need tools, right? 

Seeds are available and cost from a few cents to a couple of dollars. I've found 20¢ seeds at Walgreen's in their garden aisle and at Walmart in their garden section located at the end of aisles. There's a seed company called American Seed Co. that are well known for their quality heirloom seeds which are the 20¢ found at Walgreen's or Walmart seasonally.

I've never understood why retailers located in America's sunbelt don't carry seeds all year round. As you and I both know, we can pretty much grow seeds throughout the entire year with an exception to a few months. January and February are my garden prep months and I grow seeds indoors for Spring planting. I've actually sent letters and ask store managers to stock seeds all year long. They usually tell me that their isn't a demand for them. Okie Dokie. Radish, lettuce, cabbage and some root vegetables can be grown indoors all year long. 

Remember, the larger the plant the more expensive it is. Did you know that plants and seeds can also be ordered by the store’s manager or customer service? If you're looking for a particular of variety of live plant or seeds, just ask. You may just get it.  if not, you can order via postal mail or internet. Many times you can avoid the cost of shipping by asking your local nursery or garden center to order it for you. The next time they place an order from their supplier, it's put on the truck and they'll give you a call for pick-up.

You can also ask your local grocery store, hardware or pharmacy to keep a stock of vegetable seeds. Grocery and pharmacy stores actually like to keep a little hardware and garden section within their store as a convenience to their shoppers. Plus it's often an impulse item which is a money maker for the stores. Win-Win 

Vegetable seeds are considered edible and can also be purchased with food assistance programs as like WIC Program (Women Infant Children), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer). I learned that live fish can also be purchased with most of these programs. 

*Remember, if you purchase heirloom plants or seeds, you can collect and save seeds for a few years. Visit my vegetable page for more information on how long you can actually store seeds before the germination ratio begins to fall. 

There are many factors in deciding if you choose live plants over seeds. Consider if convenience, cost efficiency or time is important to you and you'll have your decision on whether you should transplant or sow seeds. 

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How To Use Eggshells In Your Vegetable Garden - Calcium Supplement For Your Plants and Soil

Calcium From Eggshells Supplies Well Needed Minerals to Your Vegetable Plants

Maximize the use of the everyday eggshell that’s usually thrown away in the trash. The amazing calcium rich eggshells can really help produce some really big, healthy and high producing plants as like tomatoes and peppers who thrive on calcium. 

Mary, Mary How Does Your Garden Grow? 
With Eggshells of course!

If you grow vegetables in a container garden and use egg shells, you’re going to be wowed at the fertilizing benefits of eggshells mixed into your soil. If you want to save a lot of money on buying calcium additives to add to your garden soil, you're going to love using eggshells. If you want beautiful looking tomatoes, you're going to absolutely keep using eggshells in your garden routine!

Why Use Eggshells?
Eggshells have a lot of calcium in them. They're an unused and unapprecaited souce of calcium. Crushed or pumelled eggshells will greatly increase the calcium level in your soil which will be used by your plants as plant food. All plants particularly fruiting and vegetable plants need minerals for health benefits. Some plants need more calcium than others. Healthy plants produce better tasting vegetables and fruit.They're stems and leaves will be stronger. Plants will live longer and they'll look better too. 

The reason why calcium is important to your vegetable plants is because, calcium helps with a plant's cell wall structer and aids in building a stronger immune so that a plant can defend itself against disease and common plant ailments.

These plants benefit greatly from adding minerals as like calcium to your garden soil: apples, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, citrus, conifers, cotton, curcurbits, melons, grapes, legumes, lettuce, peaches, peanuts, pears, peppers, potatoes, tobacco, and tomatoes.

I used to take eggshells for granted too until I decided to try using them in my tomato beds. I dreaded having to clean, crush and save eggshells. The worst was having to actually remember to take them outside and use them.

After a month of using finely crushed eggshells in my tomato gardens, I was absolutely amazed and convinced that my plants were healthier and green. Besides looking healthier, my plants lived longer. I was able to a get a hardy bumper crop from plants that originally looked like they were diseased.

Eggcellent Calcium Supplement For Your Tomatoes!

Using eggshells is easy. I rinse my eggshells and place them on a paper towel to dry. Once they’re dry, I crush them with a mortar. I try to pulverize them into a powder.

I recommend keeping a separate bowl, basket, mason jar, Rubbermaid container or what have you just for storing your eggshells. I make a salt sash out of an unused tea bag. Simply remove staple on tea bag, remove dried tea and add salt. Re-staple teabag.

Eggshells can be dried in the sun, oven or air dried. 

You can crush them into small or medium bits but, I find a powder consistency much more effective. 

The point is not to put hole eggshells directly into your garden.

You can toss eggshells hole into your compost bin, but not onto or into your garden soil. It’s more beneficial to crumple the shells first. The calcium in the eggshells slowly dissolve into your soil. By breaking up the shells, it helps to release the calcium much quicker. 

I promise you that crushed eggshells will make a complete difference in your vegetable and flower gardens. You’re going to toss them out anyway, so why not give them a try? 

I know.. . you don’t want the hassle of cleaning, crushing and saving your shells for your garden. Once you see that the calcium from your eggshells actually improves your vegetable garden soil and plants, you’ll want to continue using eggshells to amend your soil.

Calcium is important in growing healthy and great looking tomatoes. Tomato plants that are low in calcium are prone to bottom rot and other diseases.
Have you ever noticed that some of your tomato plants are a bit yellow? That may mean that your plants are lacking nutrition. To prevent this, add crushed eggshells to the soil. Don’t add whole eggshells. They just take too long to break down into the soil, may attract unwanted pests or cause soil rot. 

Eggshells release calcium slowly over time. You won’t see an immediate effect. It'll take about a month. That’s why the smaller you crush your eggshells, the faster they calcium will be released into your soil.

You can use a blender, knife, hands or even a mortar. Wet eggshells may cause mold in your soil.

Mix the crushed eggshells in your garden soil or potting soil. Apply eggshells in the Spring and throughout Summer.

Master gardeners don’t recommend using eggshells during the Autumn or Winter months in cold prone areas because, most plants go dormant and you can actually apply too much calcium for when the plants awake the following Spring.

If you reside in the Sunbelt in the southern states and grow vegetables all year long, it’s fine to use crushed eggshells as a calcium supplement to amend your soil.

Another idea for using eggshells for gardening is using the eggshell halves as seed starter pots. Seedlings are also cute sitting in the half shells. Be sure to save the egg crate container to hold the shells.

Be sure to poke a small hole into the bottom of the eggshell with a needle or nail so you’ll have proper water drainage. This will allow water to flow through the shell without losing any soil.

Using eggshells for its calcium benefits and using them to start seedlings is a good re-purposing idea that it’s as green as you’re going to get.

Did you know that eggshells also make great worm food? If you’re trying to attract more red worms to your garden plots, or have a worm compost bin, put crushed eggshells in your worm binds or directly into your garden bed. Remember, always used dry eggshell.

Oyster shells have also been used for a lot of years as a calcium supplement in garden soil. Ground oyster shells are also used in the vitamin industry as an over the counter calcium supplement.

Calcium pills can also be ground up and mixed into soil. 

You can also buy calcium fortified products at your local nursery that will work much quicker and have a higher calcium content. These products come in liquid form, powder, sprays, granules and even sticks. Try to find a product that is plant based (algae). 

I should also mention that besides using eggshell to add calcium to my garden soil, I also use a product called Vigoro Tomato and Vegetable Plant Food Plus Calcium from Home Depot. It works great. My neighbor uses a different product by Miracle Grow called Shake and Feed. It seems to work well too. 

Almost all nurseries and garden centers at the big retailers carry calcium fertilizers.

If you think using eggshells in your vegetable gardens and flower beds is odd, well it’s not. Folks have been using eggshells on their farms or in their backyard gardens for years and years. It’s not a new discovery at all.

And the next time you see a chicken, thank it for your great tasting tomatoes!