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Does Your Garden Need A Little Help? Find Handy Tips Here!

When it comes to gardening there is so much information out there that it’s hard to know where to get started. If you are interested in gardening, then you should already know the basics to getting started. If not then these tips should serve as a good place to start as well as a good place to expand on your gardening.

Start a compost bin, and enjoy nutrient-rich fertilizer that you can use for your vegetable plants, herbs, flowers and more. Food scraps and peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, newspaper, paperboard, yard waste and other organic matter are perfect additions to your compost bin. Keep a small bucket or bag in your freezer as an odor-free way to collect kitchen waste, and empty the container into the outdoor bin when it is full.

When planting your vegetable garden you must keep in mind that some plants do not grow well together while others do. Remember that some plants cannot be planted next to each other, so you must avoid certain combinations. For example, broccoli cannot be planted next to tomato, and so on.

Make a landscaping plan before you dig your first hole. That way, if you see your plants beginning to bud but can’t recall what they are, you can refer back to your plan to refresh your memory. It can also keep you from planting any of your garden favorites too close to each other.

Tie strips of mylar balloons to the branches of your fruit trees just before harvest time. These flapping, shiny straps will frighten away birds and small mammals, protecting your fruit. Just be sure to remove them after the harvest, because if they blow loose, animals may eat them and become ill.

Plant in the shade. All plants need light to survive, but not all of them need brilliant sunshine. Plants native to woodland areas are happy when they get protection from the sun’s rays. There are many plants that will thrive in a shady garden, including Hosta, Cyclamen, Foxglove, Helleborus, Japanese Anemone, and Ajuga. By planting these, you will have a year-round display of color in even the shadiest of gardens.

You can keep your dog away from your garden by spraying perfume or aftershave in the grass. This will work to mask any scent that is attracting dogs, and will make the garden a much less interesting place to for dogs to be.

Wash off your garden harvest before taking it inside your home. Use a laundry basket or some other plastic basket with holes. You can spray down your fruits and vegetables easily with water inside the basket, and the water and dirt will run out. You could also save the water that runs out to water your plants with.

It is important to wear gardening gloves when you are working in your garden. Gardening gloves will give your hands protection from possible cuts, scratches and even splinters. It is important to remember that you may not know what is in the ground that could be potentially dangerous to your hands.

A great first step to having a successful organic garden is to test the acidity of the soil in your garden. The ideal number is 6.5, if your soil is on the low end, it’s too acidic and if it’s on the high end it’s too alkaline. Neither of those situations lends itself to a successful garden. So by purchasing a soil testing kit before planting, you will assure yourself a beautiful organic garden in the summer.

Protect your seeds from fungus with natural products. You can use milled sphagnum moss to protect all your plants. If your seeds need light to grow, sprinkle the moss first and then place your seeds. This solution is much better than any chemicals you can find in a store and will protect your seeds efficiently.

Use a raised garden bed when planting your plants. Not only does it provide a minor defense against the common vegetable pests, raised garden beds are also warmer during the spring. The planter becomes warmer because it isn’t surrounded by several inches of isolating ground-soil. The warmer climate will result you being able to plant earlier.

When planting your organic garden, wear a carpenter’s tool belt around your waist and fill all the pockets with your gardening gloves and tools. Not only will this keep your tools organized and handy for use, it will also minimize trips back and forth to your shed to retrieve tools you have forgotten to carry with you.

Gardening isn’t that hard of a topic to get your mind around. You just have to start reading and learning about what you need to do, and then it doesn’t seem so difficult. So the next time you go out and attempt to start or improve on your garden, remember the tips you just learned, and you should be pleased with your own results.

A Little Guide To A Lovely Garden

It’s always the right time of year to grow produce if you know how to develop that proverbial green thumb. Whether you’re trying to grow basil in your window or corn out in your back yard, here are some quick and easy organic gardening tips you can use to ensure you always have a plentiful harvest.

Growing compost piles are a great alternative to buying traditional fertilizer. Compost piles are composed of organic material that slowly deteriorates making a nutrient-rich soil. It presents both a great way of ridding yourself of banana peels and other organic compounds, while providing your plants with a nitrogen rich mixture that will promote increased growth.

Take the time to know your soil. Get it analyzed. This will let you know what is in your soil and in what areas the soil may be deficient. You can then buy the missing nutrients to add into your soil which will help maximize your crops! Many local universities that have agriculture departments have the ability to test your soil for a small fee.

Water your potted herbs! Keep potted herbs well watered, but don’t over-water, which is a common mistake. Sage, thyme, rosemary and tarragon aren’t that bothered by a somewhat dry environment. On the other hand, mint, chives and parsley require constant moisture. Make sure that the container has adequate drainage holes, and place a layer of gravel in the base of the pot as a drainage layer. This ensures that the water doesn’t flow straight out.

Did you know that a tablespoon of powdered milk sprinkled around your rose bushes early in the season can help to prevent fungus growth on your beautiful flowers later in the spring? If you prefer to use a spray, you might try diluting some skim milk and spraying the plant leaves. The lower fat content in skim milk reduces the chance that it will turn rancid.

If you can’t get mulch for your soil, use wet newspapers. Damp newspapers around the base of your plants will help hold moisture in the ground and protect your plants’ root systems from heat and sunlight. Newspaper is biodegradable, so it will eventually degrade and actually add more nutrients to your soil.

If you don’t have the space to grow a garden in the ground you can still enjoy the benefits of gardening by using containers. Almost any plant can be grown in a container and many plants now are specifically designed for container growing. With a large container you could have a mini-garden right on your porch.

Make use of a ground cover, such as mulch or hay. Be sure when you are purchasing your ground cover, that it is also organic, as any chemicals contained in the mulch or hay can be absorbed by your plants. Organic ground coverings will protect the roots of your plants and help prevent water evaporation.

Think about a color scheme. Your garden design will take shape more smoothly and quickly if you choose a color scheme to work around. Before deciding, take into account any existing plants and such things as the color of the facade of your house. You can choose one color scheme for the entryway planting, and something completely different for a mixed border in the back garden. If you are a beginning gardener, don’t worry about mistakes. If you end up with a garish looking display, you can simply remove certain plants!

Make mulch spreading easier with the right tools. After laying out the mulch, use a flat-headed rake to efficiently spread the manure around. The tines of the rake help pull the mulch and spread it, while the flat side of the rake evens out the area. Use the rake with a pushing and pulling motion.

Install a fan to blow on your seeds. Make sure your fan is turned on a very low setting. This light touch will help your plants grow stronger. You can also stroke your plants very lightly with your hand or a piece of paper for a few hours to get the same effect.

Your compost pile should contain green plant materials and dry plant materials. You can use all types of green material in your compost pile, including cut grass, dead flowers, fruit peels and cores, and much more. The leaves you rake in the fall, straw, sawdust and the like are dry material. Diseased plants, meat and fire-waste like charcoal or ashes should not be placed in your compost pile.

Perhaps the most important thing that you will focus on as an organic gardener is your health. It might not start out that way, but once you realize the benefits of going organic, you will start to build healthy habits. Make sure you use the tips here instead of letting them fall by the wayside.

Shopper’s Diary: The Little Shop of Flowers in Tokyo

Hidden in a quiet Tokyo alley near the Meiji Shrine’s subway station, The Little Shop of Flowers feels a world away from the teeming crowds of the nearby Harajuku and Shibuya districts.

Florist Iki Yukari, whose background includes a stint in public relations for Band of Outsiders in Tokyo, sells handmade gifts in addition to floral arrangements.

Photography by Aya Brackett.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: The Little Shop of Flowers is tucked away in a courtyard, next door to Eatrip restaurant.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: Yukari also blogs at Letters from The Little Shop of Flowers.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: Handmade gifts include ceramics, dried floral arrangements, and glassware made by local artisans.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: Denim aprons designed by San Francisco-based designer Matt Dick of Small Trade Co. are for sale, along with locally made goods from Japanese artisans.  

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: Tip for successful floral arrangements: an off-balanced shape will look more pleasing (and natural) than a perfectly symmetrical bouquet.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: Deep red dahlias, pink peonies, striped grasses, and nicotiana are favorite flowers.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: Hung from the rafters in bunches, dried flowers are used to make permanent arrangements—wreaths, crowns, and posies.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: The Little Flower Shop connects to Eatrip restaurant, owned by Yukari’s friend Yuri Nomura, who learned to cook in London before working at Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: The restaurant’s terrace is shaded by a billowing canopy, made of simple bolts of cloth.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: Yukari collaborates with Nomura to create the restaurant’s floral arrangements.

The Little Shop of Flowers Harajuku Tokyo ; Gardenista

Above: Friends and collaborators.

Eatrip Restaurant Tokyo Harajuku ; Gardenista

Above: The entrance to Eatrip restaurant is shaded and green.

For more of our favorite spots in Japan, see:

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