Using Your Lawn’s Landscape to Cut Energy Bills

Outdoor Living, Sustainable Landscaping
Whoever says you can't "kill two birds with one stone" when becoming more energy efficient is absolutely wrong! There are ways to cut down on your home's energy expenses while adding beautiful landscapes to the yard and, in turn, likely increasing your home's value. A well designed landscape will: Cut your summer and winter energy costs dramatically Protect your home from winter wind and summer sun Reduce consumption of water, pesticides, and fuel for landscaping and lawn maintenance Help control noise and air pollution By planting trees in optimal locations, you can save up to 25% of your home's energy consumption for heating and cooling, which ends up being anywhere from $100 to $250 annually. In less than 8 years, you will have likely earned back whatever price you put…
Read More

Finding the Right Topsoil Screen for the Job

Soil & Compost
Whether you're one person with a little garden or a large landscape company, a topsoil screen can make you more efficient. Topsoil screens come in a variety of configurations, from small, individual screens to huge motorized pieces of equipment. Some of the most common uses are the removal of rocks, sticks, and sod to leave usable soil behind. The usefulness of each topsoil screen is dependent on your goals. Topsoil Screen for the Home Gardener If you are simply interested in using a topsoil screen to filter out the sticks, stones, and other junk in your yard dirt, then a small one is probably perfectly adequate for your needs. This type of device usually includes a single screen, and it may fit over a box or even your wheelbarrow. There…
Read More

Soil, Foundation Of Your Garden

Soil & Compost
The foundation of any garden, be it organic, container, square foot whatever, is it's soil but how many of us actually understand how these soils develop into the different types we have in our garden, mine is almost solid clay.  It is my frequent mutter that you could take a spade of soil and dump it straight onto the Potter's Wheel! Soil is created from the primeval actions of the earth in its growth and development. Formed of rock mixed with vegetable and animal material over eons of time it becomes the friable and crumbly humus we like to have in our gardens. As the rocks moved and collided they were gradually ground down to form the fine particles that we associate with our soil, and so it still goes…
Read More
Harvesting and Drying Sunflowers

Harvesting and Drying Sunflowers

Flower Gardening, Growing Food, Seed Saving
There's more to harvesting and drying sunflowers than many growers realize. How soon you decide to harvest them will depend largely on energy costs, temperatures, and whether you prefer them to dry naturally. Ideally, your sunflowers won't be exposed to insects and diseases, and the temperature will be warm enough to allow them to dry on the stem. However, those circumstances are rare. In reality, most crops will be vulnerable to some level of pests and diseases. And depending upon where you live, the temperature can cause your sunflowers to freeze. In this article, I'll explain some of the benefits of harvesting your sunflowers early. I'll also describe how they're dried and why the moisture in the air can affect your crops. Benefits Of Harvesting Early With energy expenses escalating,…
Read More
How To Grow African Violets Successfully All Year Round

How To Grow African Violets Successfully All Year Round

Flower Gardening, Indoor Gardening
The African violet (Saintpaulia) first headed the pot-plant popularity polls about twelve years ago and has held the top spot ever since, with each year bringing an increasing number of friends. Varieties of this gesneriad are numbered in the thousands, and it is one of the few florists' plants which blooms throughout the year. Natural light will vary with the season, increasing in spring, decreasing in fall. As light increases you may have to increase the shading on your greenhouse, and vice versa. I have shading on the outside of the greenhouse and two thicknesses of tobacco cloth inside. The thickness of this cloth is not varied with the seasons, but I add or decrease shade on the outside of the house. Low light intensity reduces the number of flowers…
Read More