Monday, 30 April 2012

Solar Lighting

One of the favorite parts of my garden is the solar lighting. I have had solar lights in my garden for at least 10 years. Amazingly, some from my very first set are still functional.

I prefer the solar lighting to low-voltage lighting as the lights can be moved, there is no trenching in of wires and the power bill doesn't see an increase. I enjoy being able to rearrange my lights occasionally; not a feasible option with low-voltage lighting.

There are many types available and the variety increases each year. The prices have also come down over the years as well, which makes them an affordable yard enhancement. I try to but at least a couple new lights each year; some years I buy more than I should. I have the tops of 7 lights on my Bistro Table, as my dogs decided to destroy the globes. I'm glad I was able to salvage a few anyway.

Below is a picture taken earlier today while I was out in the yard. I grouped a few together for the picture, but won't get to enjoy their true beauty until after dark this evening.

The one on the left is very pretty, and can be either hung up or set on a table. The chimes on the right have a color-changing tube down the center (which can't be seen due to the angle). On the lower left of the hook, there is one from my very first set. The four surrounding the hook don't look like much during the day, but are very pretty - and bright - at night.

Solar lighting has become very popular in recent years. Along with being used in yards and gardens, they are also being used at grave sites. (I myself have placed solar lights on my grandparents' and sister's grave sites.) It is not uncommon to drive past a cemetery and see it all lit up.

In addition to moving my lights around I also cut back the Lavatera from alongside the house. As you can see in the picture below, I had "help". I was so afraid I was going to catch a tail in the loppers, as the cats wouldn't stay put.

My plan is to build up this bed this year and add some heat loving tomatoes and peppers. it will take a bit of work but increasing my growing space will be worth it. A row of solar lights along the front of the bed will also mark the path so I'm not tripping over anything when I go for an evening walk around the yard.

Now that I have taken a break from the yard work it is time to get back to it. The solar lights pictured below are identical to the set I have only the tops for now. They still work and add a nice glow to the underside of the Bistro table.

Happy gardening!


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Rain Barrel Idea

Good morning!

I was scrolling through my Facebook activity this morning, and came across an article shared by friends. It shows detailed instructions on how to make rain barrels and I thought it was the perfect match for my blog. Gardening season is just starting in my area, so now is the perfect time to get the barrels set up. For those of you who are well into you gardening season, it isn't too late.

Rain water is the best water for the garden; it doesn't contain chlorine (municipal) or salt from water softeners (rural) and is the best temperature as well. Tap water is far too cold for plants to thrive. By following the instructions in the link provided, you can quickly have one or more barrels to collect water for your garden. I also like the barrel setup (a barrel at one end of every raised bed) in the post as well; one I am seriously going to try to follow either this year or next.

Happy gardening!


Friday, 27 April 2012

7 of My Favorite Bedding Plants

The picture below is of one of my garden beds (4' X 4') Summer 2011. I planted Scarlet Runner beans next to the sunflowers to utilize the space. The garden bed produced a lot of food with minimal weeds due to the plants being close together.

It is NOT a good day for gardening in my area today! We have a mixture of rain and snow which I know will be good moisture, but it would sure be nice to get out there and finish getting my garden beds ready for planting.

Before I get too far into today's post, I just want to let you know about a group page I have started on Facebook. If you are interested in the variety of gardens and gardening methods from different parts of the world, join today.

In my part of the world, the greenhouses are starting to open their doors. It is bedding plant season! I have a few favorites I like to buy each year, and I will even try something new once in awhile. Some of my favorites are:

  1. Lavender - this is one I love, but have never been able to grow easily. It is a low-growing shrub-like plant and comes back year after year. Several years ago a friend from Ontario sent me some dried lavender she had grown in her garden; I still have it in a cloth bag in my dresser even though the scent is all but gone.
  2. Chives - the past couple of years I have overwintered them inside and have been able to enjoy them fresh in meat dishes and dips. I have grown both onion and garlic chives.
  3. Strawberries - these are great for hanging baskets and vertical planters in addition to raised beds and traditional rows. My Grandma had a 3-tier circular strawberry planter in her garden; it produced a lot of berries which were easy to access as the bed was only four feet in diameter.
  4. Marigolds - I have been planting these amongst my vegetables as they help keep the mosquitoes away. They are not 100% effective, but are pretty and do help. Not only that, certain varieties are edible.
  5. Citronella - A very aromatic yet effective form of mosquito control. Keep in mind no plant seems to keep them all away, but I am happy with the results nonetheless.
  6. Tomatoes - I usually plant a few varieties of these; cherry, Roma, and Beefsteak are my favorites. The homegrown tomatoes have so much more flavor than store bought. It is important to pinch back side shoots and the tips when the plants have reached the height you desire. This will encourage bigger fruit and less rampant plants. I also suggest caging them when planting as they tend to grow fast and are harder to cage when bigger. 
  7. Fuschia - These are one of my favorite flowers. My Grandma had one hanging in her living room and I can recall squeezing the buds so they would open faster. They are very pretty; especially the double flowers.
There are thousands of plant varieties available; this is only a tiny list. As my blog grows, so will my list of plants. Keep in mind not all plants will do well in every area. Some prefer hot and dry (succulents) while others prefer hot and moist (tropical). Occasionally one can create a "mini-climate" similar to a plant's native environment, which allows for more variety in the garden

I encourage you to think outside the box and try at least one new species a year. 

Happy gardening!


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Composting Using Worms

I have been wanting to try composting using worms for quite some time now. We already save coffee grounds, tea bags, and vegetable scraps so the only difference will be is where the scraps get taken. I have a compost bin outside, but it seems to take forever for the material to break down.

As I was browsing Pinterest boards this evening I happened to come across a website that has instructions on how to make a worm bin. I will most definitely be making one of these before our next cold season sets in. The greatest part will be not having to go out to the compost bin when it is -40.

The author of the above article also has several other articles about gardening, money, handmade items and more. I encourage you to browse her site.

Thanks and have a great evening!


Welcome to My Gardening Blog!


Now that spring is here, it is time to get busy in the garden! Many of you will have already started your bedding plants and depending on where you live, may have even made trips to the nurseries in search of new plants. I will be holding off on planting anything for at least three more weeks, except maybe my onions. I don't get too anxious to put anything out until after Victoria Day long weekend; we see rain and snow that weekend more often than not.

I have been tossing around the idea of a gardening niche blog for awhile now. I enjoy spending time out in my garden, and love plants. My houseplant numbers have dwindled over the years due to a couple of moves and inadequate natural lighting; numbers have gone from well over 50 to about 20 (give or take - I haven't actually counted them).

My goal with this blog is to help novice and veteran gardeners alike have the best gardens and houseplants out there. I have learned many things about plants over the years, mostly through trial and error. My gardening history goes back as far as I can remember; I used to love going to my grandparents' place because there was always something tasty to eat in the garden. They used to also preserve as much as they could, so the home-grown fruits and vegetables didn't end just because winter had set in.

We used to spend almost every weekend at our grandparents' house, and one of my chores every Saturday I was there was to water the houseplants. My Grandma had a greener thumb than I do, and could make anything grow. One of her kitchen windows faced North, and she had built shelves there to house her African Violet collection. I have never had the luck with African Violets that she did, but I am attributing that to them being finicky. What has been your experience with African Violets?

They also had a huge vegetable garden. I can recall digging potatoes, shelling peas (ate more than I put in the bowl I'm sure), picking raspberries, digging up carrots (there's a neat little story about their garden I will share in a not-too distant post) and the list goes on. I never thought of helping in the garden as work; well, except for the pulling weeds part.

Thank you for joining me, and subscribe so you can stay informed about the variety of plants available, gardening methods, soil amendments, composting, garden decor and more.

Have a great day!