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Getting Started: Salvias for the Rocky Mountain West

High altitude, distance from large bodies of water and powerful chinook winds make the Rocky Mountain West a dry gardening environment even in years of higher than average rain and snow. The region's steep mountains have a major impact on where and how precipitation falls. Instead of a single mountain chain, the Rocky Mountains are made up of 100 separate ranges. Similarly, the Salvia genus contains a broad range of sages, many of which thrive in the climactic extremes of the Mountain West.
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Getting Started: Salvias for the Midwest

Severe winter chill and summer heat coupled with extreme humidity are challenges that gardeners face in the Midwest. Many Salvias are excellent choices as long-blooming annuals in the region while others — ones that can withstand cold winters — are reliable perennials. Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery explains the confusing Midwest boundaries from Ohio west to Kansas and North Dakota south to Missouri. It talks about the range of USDA Plant Hardiness Zones in the region and the kinds of sages that grow best there.
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Get Started With Organic Gardening By Using These Suggestions

Organic gardening can encompass a lot of techniques, depending upon whom you ask or talk to about it. You know that it’s the kind of care and attention that you give the plants that help them grow, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your technique. Try using the tips below.

Try not to cause shock to your plants by gradually changing their conditions and temperature. Place them outdoors in the sun for about an hour or two on the first day. Over a week, increase the time outside slowly. By weeks end, you should have plants that are ready for a permanent home outside with no problem!

Find the crops that grow well in your local climate and the soil in your garden. If you try to force a plant that doesn’t like your weather, you’ll end up putting out a lot of work for very little result. What grows well one year will probably grow well next year too, so plant it again.

When dividing or transferring a plant, make sure you keep the roots cool and moist. Roots are the most fragile part of a plant and are extremely sensitive to light and heat. Put a dark plastic bag over the roots if you plan on not transferring the plant right away.

Utilize proper tools and keep them in tip-top shape to lessen the stress on your body when you’re gardening. Spades and hoes should be periodically sharpened to keep them working at their best. If you have the space, choose tools such as long handled spades that allow you to stand while working. The better you feel after gardening, the more often you’ll enjoy getting your hands dirty!

Create an illusion of space. If you have a small garden, use color to create an illusion of more space. A background of blues, grays, pinks and mauves will create a misty effect, giving you the feeling of depth. If you use a bright color in the foreground such as red, this will emphasize the effect, as it draws the eye forward.

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.

When deciding to plant a garden, it is important to survey the areas available for planting and determine which will be the best location. Whether you grow your fruits and vegetables in your yard, on your patio in containers, or on your apartment balcony, your plants should be in a location which is exposed to sunlight. To yield the best harvest, most crops need to be situated in an area which is an open location that is sunny.

To help your plants grow faster, pre-heat the soil in your garden before you begin planting. Most plants love warm soil, and this will allow them to grow quickly. One of the easiest ways to pre-heat your soil is to cover it with black plastic, such as garbage bags or a tarp.

Use scale, color and texture in your garden to improve interest. Use plants of different heights, putting small ones in front and tall ones in the back. Add a few plants that have deep maroon leaves, which looks great next to greenery. Plant a tree or shrub that changes to oranges and golds in autumn, and mix small-leafed plants with larger-leafed or spiky plants, such as agave.

Use your own seeds for gardening in later seasons. This lets you ensure that your plants are organic from start to finish. Take an earlier season of plants and allow them to go to seed before you remove them. This means that not only are your plants growing without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, the seeds were grown without them either.

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.

Coffee grounds and leftover coffee can be used to repel slugs. If you have an issue with slugs in your garden, you can repel them effectively with coffee. You can sprinkle coffee grounds on the soil around your plants or use leftover coffee in a spray bottle to spray the slugs directly.

Organic gardening does have a lot of different techniques and approaches, but they all have the common goal of making something grow successfully. You can always improve upon your own organic gardening techniques to grow better, healthier organic plants. Hopefully, these tips have given you some advice on how to do that.

Organic Gardening Basics – Ideas To Get Started

Whether it is basic lawn care or meticulous focus on a flower collection, everyone wants to have an appealing lawn and garden. This desire is often not fulfilled, not because of a lack of effort, but because certain small things can be overlooked. A few special tips for your home garden can make sure you get what you want.

Protect your seedlings from frost with clay pots. Early spring is a perilous time for a new garden. You want to get your plants going as soon as possible to ensure plenty of grow time, but a single frost can wipe out your fragile seedlings. To protect your tiny plants from frost at night, simply place a small, upside down clay pot on each seedling. They will insulate from the cold and protect from the wind.

Try growing crops that are easy to store or store themselves. If handled properly and gently, given the right amount of time to cure, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, squash, dry beans, or shallots will keep for a very long time in a cool, dry place. No canning or freezing required. This will ensure having fresh vegetables from the garden all winter long.

Try using latex or plastic gloves instead of cloth gardening gloves. Cloth gardening gloves do not block moisture well – a problem when working with moist soil, and they often get stiff, crinkly, and uncomfortable after a few uses. A sturdy pair of plastic or latex gloves, like those used for cleaning, are a much better choice. They protect against moisture, and cleaning is as simple as rinsing them off under a hose and hanging to dry.

Make sure to pick the right seeds for your location and zone. Certain crops grow better in certain locations. Seed packets usually have information regarding USDA zones. Information regarding USDA Plant Hardiness Zones is also available online. A good example of this is growing oranges in warmer climates and apples in cooler climates.

Create a certain mood for your garden. Just as with interior design, one of the most exciting aspects of garden design is using color to create a mood or feeling. Use soft blues and purples for a cool and soothing atmosphere, yellows for cheerfulness, and reds and oranges to create excitement. If you are uncomfortable when deciding on colors, choose plants with grey-green or silvery foliage to mix in with your flowers. They will act as a ‘buffer’ between incompatible colors and link different color schemes.

Plastic garden labels can be used over and over again, by following this easy way to remove names written with permanent marker. Just dampen a small piece of cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe firmly over the name to remove it. This way you won’t have to buy a brand new bag of garden labels when you only need one or two.

Remember to mulch before the first freeze. Spread compost or shredded leaves around the garden, mulching under shrubs, hedges, roses, and on top of the crown of any tender perennials. A layer of compost spread on bare ground will help to protect any bulbs, corms or plant roots. By springtime, this compost will have been taken into the ground by worms, and your soil will be full of nutrition, ready for new planting.

You can attract the insects you need by planting heather. Bees are naturally attracted to heather for its nectar. Heather doesn’t usually require a lot of tending, so spiders, ground beetles and other good bugs like to call it home. Always remember this, and wear your gardening gloves if you prune your heather!

A great way to calculate the timing for planting your plants in an organic garden is to use a seed-starting chart. You should do your research and fill in the chart in advance. Once you have it, you can use the chart to plan your planting through the entire season.

You should get a heat lamp to warm your plants during the winter months if you are growing an indoor garden. Plants need a constant temperature around 65 degrees. It can be expensive to keep a home or apartment at that constant temperature. A heat lamp is a cheap and inexpensive way to give the plants the heat they need to grow.

If your organic garden uses containers, you may need to swap seedlings to larger containers as they outgrow them. When you do this, make sure to handle the seedlings by the leaves and roots. To be more specific, you should avoid touching the stems as they are extremely fragile and can be easily damaged. After you have swapped containers, it is recommended to water the roots as this will help them merge with their new environment.

The perfect lawn or garden takes a lot of hard work, time, and devotion. Even with these, though, many gardens can fall short of your goals. By following the tips given here, you can make sure that doesn’t happen, and that your lawn or garden is as good in real life as it is in your head.

Organic Gardening And You – Let’s Get Started!

Many people see organic gardening as a way to contribute to the safe-keeping of our beautiful planet. For others it presents the opportunity to put nutrient-rich and chemical-free food on the table. Both are laudible reasons. Whatever your reason is, you may find that these suggestions really help.

Before planting anything, clean up as much as possible the area where you plan on having flowers or any other delicate plants. Remove all the weeds and the grass if you think it is necessary. Your flowers should not have any competitors for the nutrients they need while they grow.

When uprooting a perennial plant, you should start digging at its drip line. Dig a trench around the plant, and cut any roots that extend beyond that trench. You can tie stems together to avoid damaging the plant during the process. Once all the roots are severed lift the plant carefully by its main stem.

Flush your plants with water if the rim of the pot or top of the soil has white salt deposits. Flush using twice the amount water as the size of the pot. Salt accumulates when using liquid fertilizer and can cause a PH imbalance. Once you have flushed the plant, do not water the plant again until the soil is dry.

If you are going to be doing a lot of work in your garden very close to the ground, such as weeding or planting, use a garden stool or pad to protect your knees. This will make it easier to get back up again and move once you finish, and will also reduce bruising on your knees.

After a long day of gardening, clean those dirty hands with a breakfast treat. Create a mixture of oatmeal and water. Make it thick! Use the mixture as an abrasive to get the dirt out of your skin and from under your fingernails. Follow it up with your normal soap and water wash to get any lingering dirt off.

Try using a natural weed killer that does not contain harsh chemicals. Spray weeds with full strength white vinegar to kill them, and reapply as necessary if you see any new growth. Vinegar can also kill plants that you want to keep, so make sure not to spray it on weeds that are growing in the middle of other plants you do not want to kill.

Make sure that you prune your trees regularly. Dead wood on trees can attract pests that can infect your trees. Also, when you trim back small branches on a tree, it will increase the airflow between the branches and allow the larger branches to develop more. This will result in a stronger and healthier tree overall.

If you live in the city, you can still reap the benefits of organic gardening through container gardening. Herbs especially will thrive in indoor pots, as long as they are large enough. Container gardening can be easier than outdoor gardening when going organic, as there is less risk of exposure to insect pests or weeds.

While Mother Nature will eventually do the work needed to create compost from a backyard pile, even if it is not actively tended, you can give her a helping hand by adding compost starter to the mix. Compost starters, available from the garden centers, add microorganisms to the soil that help speed up the decay process.

You can gain time by renewing your beds with this method: slice under the turf and turn it over. Cover it with wood chips and wait a few weeks. You can then use this bed to plant your perennial plants. The ground you have turned over should be made richer by the turf that is under it.

Test your soil before starting your organic garden. A healthy soil is the primary ingredient in a healthy garden. If you start by testing your soil, you will know what nutrients it lacks, and also which nutrients are in over abundance. Once you find out where your soil stands, you can make natural modifications to help ensure a healthy start for your garden.

Grow basil successfully. Basil is an annual warm-season herb, very susceptible to cold and frost. Sow seed in spring at a depth of about 1/2 inch in full sun. Keep the soil evenly moist. When the basil reaches about 6 inches, pinch out the top to encourage bushy growth. Pick continuously before any flower buds open. Pick leaves in the morning after dew has dried, and don’t over wash leaves, as you will lose the aromatic oils.

The above list should have provided you with a some good ideas on becoming an even better organic gardener. It’s great that you have such an interest in the subject. Going organic is ‘green’; it is healthy, and it is enjoyable!

Getting Started: Salvias for Zone 9

California's small, Mohave Desert city of Barstow averages about 5 inches of rain annually. Across the continent, Pensacola, Florida, has more than double Barstow's population and more than 12 times its amount of rainfall. Yet both cities are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant Hardiness Zone 9 where you can plant perennials and shrubs that survive winter lows ranging from 20 to 30 degrees F. Flowers by the Sea takes readers on a triple coast road trip of Zone 9 and suggests plantings for varied growing conditions along the way.
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