Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Reviewing The Tall Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris Bloom In Late Spring

The tall bearded Iris is blooming in my backyard right now. Do you have one of the many varieties in your garden? They are one of my all time favorites in the springtime.

bearded iris
Tall Bearded Iris in my own garden
I don't know about you but my favorite time of the year is Spring. I love when the buds begin to pop out and the flowers begin to dot the landscape with color. One flower I look forward to in May is my Tall Bearded Iris. It just brings me so much joy when they bloom.


The Iris Has A Long History

The iris has been around for a very long time. I'm not sure why it was decided to name this particular plant after the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow but it appears that it was. It is a flower that has been a symbol of royalty and monarchs throughout history. It is a long history, too. The palace of King Minos on the Greek Island of Crete has a fresco showing the iris. That fresco dates back to somewhere around 2100 B.C. 

The Bourbon Kings of France used a symbol of an iris to show power and position. We all know that symbol as the "Fleur de Lys". Great Britain adopted the iris as a symbol of the monarchy when Edward III added it to his coat of arms in the 1300's. Queen Elizabeth I had her portrait made in a gown covered with irises.  

Whether it has anything to do with royalty or not, the beautiful iris has been around for people to admire for a very long time. There are non-bearded irises but that isn't what most people think of when they think of this lovely flower in their gardens. 

tall iris
Clump of bearded iris in my yard.

Planting Bearded Iris

You want to plant the rhizomes of the bearded iris in the summer. The reason for this is that they need time to grow and establish in the ground before winter takes hold. If you don't already have them in your garden you can buy the rhizomes from a local nursery or you can find them online.

Every few years you should divide your current colonies of iris. If the plants become to crowded they don't bloom as well. It is really easy to divide them. After they have bloomed for the season, dig around the green stems of the plants. Cut out some of the fleshy brown root looking rhizomes and take to a new area where you want to see irises bloom next year. I like to take a large cutting and then divide it in two or three pieces. It is that easy. Just make sure you water the new area to help the new cuttings take hold and that is it. Next year, you will have more of the tall bearded iris to enjoy.

I'm thinking of adding a different color this year, I particularly liked this color. I think it will blend nicely with the ones that currently grow in my yard.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Best Lawn Repair Product - Tested and Approved

We've used this product for years - works every time,
Highly Recommended!
Scotts EZ Seed Lawn Repair tested, approved, and now, reviewed.

It's a combination of mulch, seed, and fertilizer.

We've lived in our home for the past 26 years. We bought the house new and tackled our own landscaping.

In the early 1990's we put in about 52 small cedar trees around our backyard fence. The trees have since grown to about 25 feet tall.

Cedar trees require a lot of moisture and can slowly eat away your lawn - or so we discovered. We replaced our backyard lawn three times until I found EZ Seed Lawn Repair about ten years ago.

Why Scotts EZ Seed Lawn Repair?

In between our lawn replacements in those early years, we tried the usual - spread topsoil and add lawn seed. Nah, that sucked. It was still sparse in spots and didn't have the tidy finished look I personally prefer.

I also tried another lawn repair product by a popular competitor. Nope, it didn't take nearly as well as Scotts EZ Seed. I used the competitor's seed on one section, and Scotts on the other, and Scotts won the battle hands-down.

Scotts advertises that their seed consists of continuous release lawn food with super-absorbent growing material making it possible to grow grass anywhere. Yep, that's true. This stuff works.

How and Where I Use the EZ Seed Lawn Repair

I buy two large bags every year - our backyard lawn area is smaller - probably 600 square feet if I had to guess.

1. Wearing gloves, I scoop out handfuls and place the seed where it's needed  - I don't dump it from the bag - it's pricey stuff - so I place the handfuls of seed exactly where I want it.

2. I put seed along the entire perimeter of our cedar trees - the cedar trees eat away a good chunk of lawn, so I'll fill in the dead areas completely with seed.

3. I'll spread the seed about 1/8 of an inch thick, and evenly.

4. Once the perimeter of the trees is completed, I then fill in the thin areas in the center parts of the lawn.

5. Oh, and I don't do much to prep the lawn - just rake it - and sometimes sprinkle it with some water if it's bone dry dirt.

6. I've also used it in between our neighbor's driveway and ours - the grass just didn't grow well there and like I mentioned above, regular grass seed didn't take. So I used EZ Seed Lawn Repair, and yep, the lawn is now thick and lush. The stuff is amazing.

7. Water it every day! When you put this on your grass (in large sections) - don't cut the grass for four to six weeks. It needs time to grow. You have to water it. When I first put it on the lawn I'll water it by hand with the hose on a light spray setting. Once the lawn starts to grow, I'll use the sprinkler.

The clean edges of grass that come right up to the patio and trees are what I prefer - This photo is after the last sod was put in over ten years ago - Using Scotts EZ Seed keeps our lawn looking like this every year

In this photo, I've edged the lawn with Scotts EZ Seed - Turns out perfect every time
This picture is from a year or two ago

I highly recommend this product. It is pricey but in my opinion, worth every penny. We haven't had to resod our lawn. The lawn regains it's thick lush appearance with EZ Seed.

Today was the day I spruced up the lawn for spring/summer 2020. The EZ Seed project is all done for another year.

Oh, and yep, we've never had to resod the lawn since we started using Scotts EZ Seed.

Here's my other DIY gardening solution for areas of the yard where grass won't grow at all!

Scotts EZ Seed is Available on Amazon.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Time to Grow, Now is the Time! A Garden Review!

growing, garden, review best practices

If there ever was a time to look forward, it is now.  

Don't be stuck with the majority looking for doom and gloom, there is life out there and we gardeners mean to have it to the full extent we can.  

To that end, I am offering you some "jobs" that need to be done before the growing part can start!



My Spring To Do List!

  1. Clean out the pots! Seedlings 2020 coming up.
  2. Trim Bushes
  3. Check Foundation Beds
  4. Select the flowers and vegetables that I want to grow this year.
  5. Make sure I have all the necessities (to avoid frustration)
  6. Plant, Mark and Place in the Sun
  7. Watch patiently as Mother Nature does her magic!

 

This is Just the Beginning, Now Let's Get Started!

 

1.  Cleaning out last years pots is necessary.  You don't want to carry over any diseases or bugs from last year into this year.  So empty the pots of their ground, but don't throw it away!  Place it into your compost bins!  The heat generated in the composting will kill off any bugs or disease so don't worry. 

When the pots have been emptied, take them into the shed, or garage or whatever work space you have and sanitize them as well.  A Bucket of warm water with bleach and a good scrub brush are all that's needed.  Mix your solution approximately 9 parts water to 1 part bleach and soak your pots for at least 10 minutes.  The warm water will soften the mineral deposits and dirt from the pots for easier scrubbing.  Use a stiff brush or a pot scrubber to remove any deposits on the pots .  If there is still some residue, you can soak your pots in dish detergent to remove any other debris.  Let your pots air dry before refilling them with new soil. If you like you can watch this video on cleaning pots it's only 3 minutes long (How to Clean Pots)

While your pots are air drying, get outside and check out how the garden fared through the winter months.  It's a good time to pull back any debris that you did not remove in the fall.(See #3)  Now BEWARE,  you should check your own climate to make sure that no further hard frosts will happen.  Be ready to cover young growth in case of really cold nights that might still happen.




2. Before the weather gets really warm, you can trim some of your flowering bushes!  Again, be knowledgeable you don't want to trim those bushes that will flower early in the spring, especially lilacs and forsythias.  If you trim these in the spring, you will likely lose all the flowers for that year.  A rule of thumb to follow for good results is this:  If it flowers in early spring (lilacs, forsythia, azaleas and such) do not prune until after they have flowered for this year.  If the bushes flower later in the year, early spring is a good time to trim and resize.  These bushes will have plenty of time to set buds for this coming 2020 season.  The Farmer's Almanac is a good guide just click on the link: When to Prune Shrubs

3.  Your pots are drying and you are doing a foundation check.  It's a great time to look at the flower beds, see what is sprouting already and gently pulling back on the ground cover (leaves) that you put there in the fall.  Look for bees that are coming out of dormancy and leave them some mulch to use as blankets at night when it's still cool.

4.  When you have done all this cleaning and spotting what's new in the garden, you just might need a little rest.  All work and no fun is not a good way to garden.  The Fun comes from checking out all the seed catalogs for new and exciting plants you want to try to grow for this year.

There are numerous garden centers that offer seeds and you should check out your local growers/suppliers for their catalog.  If you don't have any local suppliers, you can try Veseys, Dominion Seed House  and many, many more.  The Spruce offers 60 free seed catalogs where you can either get a hard copy catalog or view it online. 

5.  What are the necessities?  Well, you are going to need fresh garden or potting soil.  If you are doing seeds, then a good seeding mix would be a good idea.  You have your clean pots and hopefully you have some old saucers or containers to use for catch trays (please make sure these are clean as well)

You need the seeds, so hopefully you have had some time to check out what's new for the gardens this year.  Or maybe you have kept seeds from last years harvest.  Good for you! 

Clean tools are also needed.  You don't want to spoil all the hard work you have done, by plunging a dirty trowel into your newly cleaned pots. 

6.  Plant markers, unless you are a master gardener and can spot a bean sprout from a pepper sprout, then marking your seedlings is a must.  Maybe you are trying a new variety and want to log it's growth and more, then plant markers are a must!  Even for flowers, I find that I can't rely on my memory to tell me what I planted in which pot.  (Brain Fog comes to me naturally, so I rely on my markers)  These can be home made by cutting up white plastic and using a waterproof marker to label the pots.  If you are creative there are many other ways to make some really nice markers. I've included a video here!  Making Garden Markers 

7. Now you can sit back and relax, watch a video or two, and dream.  Hopefully there are some nice sunny days coming your way.  Find a nice little sheltered spot where the sun shines and just sit back and let your body get it's quota of Vitamin D. 

Now it's time to order whatever it is you still need to get those seedlings started.  New soil is the Number 1 item that should be on your list and if you are a Prime Member, you will get it tomorrow.....





This is my favorite potting medium and I get free shipping with my Prime Membership.  Miracle Gro has been around for years and it has a 5 star rating, do I know it's a good choice. I still don't like having to lug these bags of soil around, so shopping online is the way I get mine.  It comes to my door and that makes me very happy.  My garden this year will be off to a great start.  Join me!



growing, spring, garden review




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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Spring Forward, Renewal, Rebirth, Revival and Joy!

March 8th is Spring Forward Time! A Garden Review!

 

spring, bird feeding, bees
Image from Pixabay

Yeah, for all our Naturalists/Gardeners/Backyard Enthusiasts and those who are patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for Spring's arrival.  From my own personal experience I know how most of us are feeling right about now.  We can't wait for longer days and warmer temperatures and getting our hands back into the soil.  We want to poke around to see what's about to spring up out of the ground.  We also look up to see where the birds are too.  That first robin or yellow finches just make us so happy.  Our time is coming quickly!


Things Outside are Changing Quickly!

 
Now that it's March, we can look forward to longer daylight hours (it's already light at 6:00 in the morning)!  The bugs and the bees are waking up from their long winter slumber and looking desperately for a food source.  Even the birds are making a comeback.  

Those of us who love hummingbirds will be watching the Hummingbird Migration Maps for 2020!  They are already in parts of Florida and coming to your neighborhood soon!  Be the first one in your neighborhood to mark the map with the first sighting in your area. 


Spring, so much to do and so much pleasure in doing it too!


If you hang out bird feeders, now is the time to get them ready.  Clean and disinfect them all carefully.  We want to feed the birds and not harm them.  Clean feeders are a must!  Pathogens that can harm them can and might live over in the winter months.  There is need to be extra vigilant in making the birds source of food a safe source.  

Wash down all bird feeders, clean out birds nests from last year and give this years birds a really good chance of thriving and surviving.  Clean them out with a mild bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to a sink full of hot soapy water).  Make sure you rinse them well and let them air dry before setting them out again.  

 

Special Care for Hummingbird Feeders!


Many people give up on putting out hummingbird feeders because they do require extra care.  It may seem wasteful, but their nectar needs to be changed every week.  Spoiled nectar in feeders can cause their death.  No one wants to be responsible for that!  So in the early spring, before you even see them, you need to change that nectar every week.  

Make only a cup of nectar at a time, so as not to waste all that sugar water.  And remember, red dyes are NOT NECESSARY  to attract those little flying gems.  Your hummingbird syrup should be roughly 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water.  The measurement does not have to be exact, but close is good.  Use only 1/2 to 1 cup of syrup in your feeders (keep the rest in the refrigerator) until you are sure the hummingbirds have found you!  Once you know they are coming to your feeders, go to town and fill it right up.


Maybe this is the year you decide to help the birds and the bees.

 
You can easily do this with bird feeders, bird houses and even bee houses.  The birds and bees give us so much enjoyment, it's the least we can do to make them welcome in our yards.  Our own Renaissance Woman will even teach you how to make your own bird feeders if you feel so inclined.  It would be a great spring time activity for your children or grandchildren.  Check it out right here: DIY Mason Jar Bird Feeder!

Building bird houses is also a lot of fun and an easy craft to share with your family as well.  The most important thing to remember is that certain birds require different housing.  Some are solitary breeders, while others love to be in community.  You might have to do some research to find out what kinds of birds come to your neighborhood, before you start building.  This review might help you get started! What you need to know about  Basic Bird House Construction!


The Bees are Getting a Lot of Press Lately!  The Key to Success

 
Science has let it be known that the bee population is in trouble.  If we don't have them as pollinators our whole food sources are at risk.  So let's help those pollinators by growing gardens that feed them all spring, summer and fall.  It's not hard to do and I'm sure you will enjoy the efforts that you put into making a beautiful "bee" friendly garden. 

There are a few guidelines that will help you to help the bees!  
  • Plant a garden that will give lots of blooms all season long.
  • Plant single flowered species rather than the big double and triple flowers.  The singles produce more nectar and the bees can easily get to it.
  • Plant lots of different annuals as well as perennials.
  • Build a bee house.
  • Have a water source available too!

Do you need more information?  I like this website for all inclusive information about bees and keeping them happy!  The  Honey Bee Conservancy  I like to keep my family happy, so, with my son-in-law being a beekeeper, this is for him!  I try to do my part in helping him help the bees and I get to enjoy some of the honey too.

Spring is a time of Renewal, Revival, Rebirth and Joy!  Let's make an effort to help Mother Nature in all of this,  by doing something to help all her little creatures.

feeding the bees, helping Mother Nature, hummingbird feeders
Image by jggrz from Pixabay








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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Autumn Chores: Planting Trees Now It's the Right Time! A Garden Review

Autumn chores in the garden should include planting some trees! A Garden Review for you!

autumn tree planting, guide to trees, planting trees for success


Now don't get your knickers all in a knot!  Some people think that fall is the time to stop gardening, clean out the flower beds and put everything to sleep for the winter months that are fast approaching.  I'm here to tell you that you are wrong, so wrong!  Those are some of the jobs that will need doing, but right now think about trees!

Autumn is a great time to plant trees and shrubs.  There are several reasons that you should be doing some tree planting at this time.  Trees are the lungs of the earth and healthy air around your home is a must! 

In the fall the ground has been nicely warmed up.  Summer heat gets right down to the deeper parts of the ground.  The soil is warm and generally moist.  When you dig a hole for a new tree you will see for yourself that the soil is nice and warm .  When you plant a tree in that warm soil, the roots that have been bound up in a root ball, will nicely ease their way into that warmth.  You can wait till spring, but have to wait until the soil is frost free for best results.  Late April or early May are target times for spring planting.  In the fall you can plant right up till the first signs of snow.  The ground will keep it's warmth even with a snow cover.  The snow, believe it or not, is a great insulator.


In the fall, trees naturally go into a state of dormancy.  The saps run down into the roots and the leaves fall. The energy of the trees are already in the lower parts of the trees.  So placing them into warm soil will make them very happy.   Autumn rains will also help get those roots to stretch out and grab hold.  But proper planting techniques are still a good rule to follow.

Before you start to think about planting a tree, make sure you know what kind of tree you want in your space.  If you have a large area, then plant whatever you like, but, if you live in an urban area, you may have to think about this a little more.  Do you want a lot of shade in your yard?  Are you looking to mask the sounds of traffic, or are you wanting some fruit for your efforts.  All these questions should be asked and answered before you buy and plant anything.


Some trees have deep roots, some have shallow ones!  Planting a tree close to foundation walls is never a good idea.  Nor is planting a tree that gets very deep expansive roots.  Some research is necessary if you want to have a good result.
 

Trees have different shapes and natural heights that they will grow to.  Depending on what you want from the tree, you will have to make some educated choices.  I like this link from Arborday.org, for some really good information, so that once you decide to plant the trees, you will have made the right decisions.  

Trees are a wonderful addition to any landscape and will give you years of beauty.  The birds, bees, and small critters will thank you and grace you with their presence.  Mother Nature will appreciate your help in keeping the air fresh and clean as well.   

Put this book on your shelf, so that you will have easy access to some of the best information and suggestions for picking, planting and maintaining your trees as they mature.


It is wonderful to be able to reach the information you need in the garden when you are busy with the task at hand.

Happy tree planting and here's to your healthy!  I hope you enjoy your happy gardening space.




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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Mid Summer Heat and Your Garden, It's Time to Rejuvenate!

Oh the Summer of 2019 will probably go down as one of the better ones we have had in a long time.  But, the heat can do some pretty mean things to your garden.  Let's do a quick review on how you can make those baskets and annuals look a little nicer than they do right now!

When May and June rolled around, everyone was just so happy to see the weather become warmer.  Garden centers everywhere were busy selling plants of every kind under the sun to people who had the worst cases of itchy fingers ever!

Who didn't go out to buy at least one or two hanging planters with bright colored geraniums or petunias?  I know I did and the garden centers thanked me.  

This is what they looked like when I bought them:

*photo from pixabay

Now that we are well into August, they are looking tired and sparse.  The stems that were so full of flower buds, have elongated into wisps of bare stems with maybe a flower or two at the end of the stem.  Nothing at all like they looked when I first purchased them.

                                            portulaca looking sad

But wait a minute, these plants can be revitalized with just a little tender loving care.  I'm here to help you make the next two to three months much nicer again with the same plants that you already have.

How to Revitalize Your Plants 

Let's get started.  

Cut back the long strands of petunias, calibracoas, or moss roses (portulaca). Dead-head your geraniums so that more flower heads will appear.  

1. Let the plant dry out just a little, so that you can remove it from it's hanging pot.
When you have the plant out, place it (soil ball and plant) into a pail of water.  You will notice that the soil around the plant has probably gotten very solid and holds the shape of the pot it was in.  That is part of the problem.  When you water this plant, the water just falls right out of the bottom of the pot.  The soil no longer holds any water close to the roots.  We need to fix that!  

2.  Take the roots and gently pry them apart (or if you are not too scared, take a knife and cut the root ball into quarters)   Do this inside the pail and place the pieces back into water.  You may notice that some of the old soil is starting to fall away from the roots.  Don't worry, that's what you want to have happen.  

3.  Get some fresh potting soil.  I like to use Miracle Gro soil.** I'll tell you why later.  Now take those quarters and place two or three back into the hanging pot.  Fill the rest of the space with fresh soil and water well.  You can even bury the crown of the plant in the new soil.

4.  Leave these plants in the shade for a day or two, just to give them some time to get over the shock.  Keep them watered well, but not drowning.  

5.  In a week, you should be able to see new growth coming up from the original root system.  In two weeks they will look like brand new plants, even though there isn't a garden center around with fresh planters.  

6.  Sit back, relax and enjoy your hanging baskets for another two months or more.  

If your hanging baskets are full of annuals, they will  keep blooming until frost arrives and that could be late October or November even.  They will slow down in blooming naturally once the long summer days are done, but they will bloom!  They will also look so much nicer than those long wisps with only one flower on the end of each stem.   

Now why do I like Miracle Grow Soil?**  I told you earlier that I would explain.  So here it is:
Purchased hanging planters from Pop-up Garden centers use plain potting soil for their planters (it's cheaper).  Miracle Gro soil is not just soil, but Sphagnum peat moss, perlite and compost.  It is also infused with Miracle Gro fertilizers that are time released for better blooms and healthier plants.  I have used this for years and I can't remember ever having a summer of disappointment with my hanging plants.  Now that I am in my apartment, I use this type of soil in all my balcony planters too. 




Annual plants are wonderful for their color, long lasting blooming period and they are not too expensive either.  So you really get a good bang for your buck.  At then end of the season, remember to compost your annuals or if you are really keen, start seed saving so that next year you can make your own hanging baskets with Miracle Gro soil from the start and seeds that you have saved.  

You can find out more about seed saving on another review right here: Let's Review The Best Proven Seed Saving Practices





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Monday, July 22, 2019

Defiant Wireless Motion Sensor Solar Light Review

Need an outdoor light but no electrical outlet? The wireless motion sensor solar light by Defiant can assist. I recently needed to light an outdoor walkway which was marooned between electrical outlets and hard wiring the area was not an option.


I purchased the Defiant Wireless Solar Light to solve the no electrical outlet, need light problem and have been very impressed with its' performance. 


Brightness

Brightness
Motion Sensor

x
This is a bright light! It is not for subtle soft lighting along the deck, patio or home. The solar light has the equivalency of 20 LED lights.

The unit actually has two lights. The main light facing out and an interior back light behind the main light. The two lights are synchronized to provide the full brightness. The motion sensor feature then regulates how the lights are dimmed after activation.




Motion Sensor


I found the motion sensor to be very accurate. The small unit is deceiving as to how quickly it will pick up motion. Activity to trigger the motion sensor is up to 26 feet with a 120 degree radius according the the specifications.

There are two settings for the motion sensor:

1. When motion is detected the front and back light turns on to full brightness. After 10 seconds of no motion both lights turn to low brightness.

2. Standby mode. When motion is detected the front and back light turns to full brightness. After 10 seconds of no motion the front light turns off and the back light turns to low brightness.

The light does not have an option for both lights to be turned off after activation. 


Solar Light & Wireless

The solar light takes eight hours of charging to provide 12 hours of continuous light during the night. 

The wireless feature is perfect for areas of the home, deck, landscape or yard which are not located near an electrical outlet. The unit is easy to install as it is lightweight and requires two wall screws (included.) However I liked the portability of the unit due to its' lightweight and shape so I positioned the unit on the deck stairs to face the sun.

 

 

More Home Reviews





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Monday, June 24, 2019

City Pickers: Raised Garden Bed Review

My collection of pots for the container garden had become sad and unusable. A refresh was desperately needed and I went on the search for raised garden beds.

 I'd love to have truly raised garden beds about five feet high in the yard, but for now I was searching for a garden bed suitable for the deck. I am very happy to have purchased the City Pickers raised garden bed and will be purchasing more!
City Pickers green raised garden bed on wheels

City Pickers Raised Garden Bed


The size of the garden bed at 24.5" by 20.5" is perfect for the deck. Large enough for room to plant a nice selection of plants, but small enough to move easily. The watering system is also a huge plus as the system holds 2 quarts of water.

They seemed to think of everything when designing this mobile garden including:

  • Self Contained automatic watering system
  • Mobile, on caster wheels
  • Aeration
  • Mulch cover
  • Easy to move
  • Fun colors from the neutral to bold
  • Reasonable price point
  • Waist height version on wheels

Who Wants Color?


I loved the City Pickers is available in 9 colors!

  • Terra Cotta 
  • Aquamarine
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Hunter Green
  • Lime Green (my choice)
  • Red
  • Sandstone

How Much Potting Mix To Fill The Garden Bed?


I used 4 bags of 8 quarts each of potting mix to fill the garden bed plus the recommended cups of lime. The directions are very specific to use potting mix, not topsoil or potting soil! The directions stated 1.5 cubic feet of potting mix is needed to fill the bed; however it depends upon how much muscle you or you have access to! The smaller bags of potting mix are easier to transport and are also frequently on sale.

Assembly Of The City Picker


The City Picker does need to be assembled and the assembly took less than five minutes! It is very easy and quick and requires little labor. One of the advantages of a mobile raised gardening bed is the ease of movement and convenience.


The City Pickers is on wheels which do need to be inserted into the bottom of the bed. I was very pleased to find it took no effort to insert each wheel! Seems like a simple request, but one of my pet peeves for furniture that needs to be assembled is wrangling with the coaster wheels;  these wheels were so easy to pop in and lock on the bottom of the City Pickers garden bed.

Best Way To Save! Swagbucks Hack


This is my favorite way to earn rewards points combined with the ease online ordering! I found one color of the City Pickers in my local big box store, but knew there was a wide selection of colors as I had researched the garden beds online. I really wanted a cheery blue or fun green garden bed.

Back to the internet and I used my swagbucks account to order online from the big box store and have the bed delivered to my door. The option to have the item delivered free of charge to the big box store also is very handy to use and saves time as the items can be picked up at the door at the customer service area.

Swagbucks is a free account in which points are earned for purchases at most online and bricks and mortar stores. The points can then be used for gift cards which are ordered online from the Swagbucks account and the gift code is delivered to your inbox. I love it and this system has worked flawlessly for my shopping.

Click here to sign up for Swagbucks (free!)

 

More Reviews From The Gardeners And Nature Friends at Review This Reviews

Balcony Gardening Tips by Olivia Morris
Garden Kneeler Review by BarbRad
Water A Flower Day by Wednesday Elf
Hostess Gifts For The Gardener by Olivia Morris 
Planting In Spring For Summer by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Creative Flower Photography by Mary Beth Granger



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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Fabric Pots Reviewed

Gardening In Fabric Pots

garden vegetables
Could these grow in a cloth container?
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
Do you have a garden? Have you considered growing in fabric pots? Let's review the possibilities. 

I am familiar with the concept of container gardening and have tried it a few times over the years. Until recently, I was not aware that another option is to grow my vegetables, herbs or flowers in a fabric pot. Now, that sounds interesting!

The advantage to using a cloth container is that it allows for better aeration for the roots and better drainage, too. From what I glean from the description of the brand that I am interested in using; transplanting from them allows for a better chance of the plant not going into shock. I am thinking it might work well for starting a small tree to be planted elsewhere when it gets some height to it. 

I love that there are so many options for sizes to grow in, too. A fabric pot can be as small as one gallon or as large as 100 gallons. (Now that is a huge bag!) Personally, I am drawn to the 7 gallon size because I think it offers some real versatility. It also seems to be a very popular size with other gardeners, too. The pots made from cloth would also fit in places that a standard pot or container might not. They won't be as heavy to move, either. 

The possibility of using these little fabric pots over and over again appeals to me. When the growing season is over they can be laundered and saved for the next batch of gardening. Granted, we can do the same thing with clay, resin and plastic pots but the bags would take up much less storage space when not being used. Storage can be a problem for most of us especially the urban gardeners who need to grow their items on a small patio or balcony. 

How about you? Did you know that fabric pots were even an option? Would you be willing to try them out? I am going to give them a try.




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Monday, April 29, 2019

Reviewing the Basalt Birdbath by Stone Age Creations

My birdbath on a West Virginia ridge.
I have been eyeing these beautiful carved stone birdbaths for years. Only last week did I finally splurge on one. The Basalt stone bird bath by Stone Age Creations carried what I consider a hefty price tag but I think it is worth every penny.  This unique stone bath speaks to me, it is a perfect addition to my "yard", and it will be appreciated by the birds that visit me at The Shack for years to come.

Why Bird Baths are Important


Not only are bird baths wonderful lawn ornaments but they also provide water for the local birds. Birds need water; most birds drinking daily. And birds bathe in order to clean their feathers. Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides important information about proper upkeep of healthy bird baths and why birdbaths are useful. 

Birdbaths also attract a variety of birds to your yard. If you enjoy backyard bird watching and want to attract more birds, you'll love Mary Bath's gorgeous photographs and story about her own backyard birdbath. I always look forward to seeing her photography of her feathered visitors.

What is Basalt?


By looking at and touching the birdbaths at Sun Nursery (where I purchased my birdbath), I could guess that Basalt was some sort of stone. For the purpose of this article, I looked up more information.

Basalt - "the dark, dense igneous rock of a lava flow.... often displaying a columnar structure"  - dictionary.com 

Basalt is also described as
  • as heavy as granite, sometimes heavier
  • high in iron content
  • as durable as granite
  • aesthetically interesting due to the iron content
  • is a stone that has been used in architecture for centuries
  • in addition to landscaping and architecture, basalt is used as massage stones and as healing stones in jewelry
And an interesting bit of trivia is that some of the iconic "head" sculptures of Easter Island are carved from Basalt! I don't know very much about those Moai carvings but I have always thought they are made from beautiful stone. 


Easter Island Moai stone carvings
(photo credit: public domain courtesy of Aurbina)

A Basalt Birdbath at The Shack


I wanted this particular bird bath for several reasons. It is beautiful. The rustic stone exterior and super smooth interior portion of the dish is interesting in appearance and blends perfectly with the rugged ridge landscape.

It comes in two pieces. Each piece is still quite heavy, but the two pieces allowed me to haul it in the Jeep and carry it to it's spot under the apple tree.

My beautiful basalt birdbath
The bowl is quite shallow. During my next visit I am going to add a flat rock to the bowl - giving the smaller birds another spot to perch or use as a step. I really like that this bowl is flat-bottomed and Cornell Lab recommends shallow bird baths. 

The deer are into every single thing that is outside at The Shack. I am hoping that they are not able to knock this heavy birdbath over if they decide to help themselves. Also, the wind blows quite hard coming up and over that ridge. I am sure this bird bath will not blow over.

My land is at the top of the ridge. The terrain is rocky and dry. There is a creek somewhat nearby but it is at the bottom of the hill. I'm sure the birds will be appreciative of a convenient water source.

Related Link: 

During my last trip to The Shack, it rained a lot. So much so that I didn't get much done. I wasn't able to prepare a spot so the bath sits level. But I did have an opportunity to take a hike. If you want to see the photos from that hike, click here

I have wanted this bird bath since discovering Sun Nursery years ago. Sun Nursery has a HUGE selection of plants and staff that are both helpful and knowledgeable. If you are near the Maryland and DC areas, Sun Nursery is well worth a visit. 

Stone Age Creations makes some gorgeous items. I am partial to their birdbaths, benches, and boulder owls. If there is not a distributor of their items in  your area, you can find some of their items on Amazon. 





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Monday, April 15, 2019

Gardening Reviewed on Review This Reviews

Treasures from the Archives of Review This Reviews!


 Gardening Reviews on Review This! As the winter winds roar away, the spring breezes arrive whispering the names of gardeners everywhere, beckoning them to come out and play. Our contributors respond to those breezy whispers, not only by working in their gardens and flower beds, but also by sharing tips and gardening suggestions here on Review This Reviews. 

We recommend plants, flowers, gardening tools, garden maintenance and care tips, as well as, how to attract and provide for birds & butterflies.  We even feature a bit of gardening decor just for fun. 

Readers have a world of gardening experience and expertise literally right at their fingertips when they visit Review This Reviews.  Because our contributors live in a variety of climates, states and countries, we are able to offer something for everyone, just about anywhere.

There are several ways you can explore our gardening articles section. You could click here to see a list of gardening articles on our site directory.  Or, perhaps, you would prefer using the tab at the top of our site labeled "Gardening' which provides an easy drop down list of articles.  Plus, there is Pinterest.  We have a Pinterest board dedicated to our gardening articles shown below that allows you to peruse via images.  By simply clicking the image of the article of interest, Pinterest will automatically redirect you to the published review here on Review This Reviews.


Sit back, read, relax and enjoy.  Then, listen for your name on the wind and be ready to respond to the invitation.  For many of us, gardening is the best form of therapy and meditation.  Plus, it yields gorgeous rewards.


Welcome to Our Garden!  



 A Preview of the Pinterest Board - Gardening Reviews 

 There are over 50 Gardening Reviews on Review This Reviews! 
This small board features the 30 most recent reviews. 





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Monday, April 8, 2019

Attracting Northern Cardinals

How to attract Cardinals.
I love Cardinals. And frequently see them in the area around my apartment near Baltimore. They are plentiful here. But I rarely see them at The Shack. The Shack is located on a ridge in Northeastern West Virginia. I enjoy birdwatching at The Shack and have been puzzled about the absence of these beautiful red birds at my feeders there. So I reviewed what they are attracted to and am sharing that information here.


Types of Bird Feeders and Seed that Northern Cardinals Prefer 


Cardinals are attracted to the type of birdseed I purchase; mixes with black sunflower and/or safflower. Where I may be going wrong at The Shack is that they tend to prefer platform feeders or feeders with trays. My feeders at The Shack all have the circular openings for the seed.

After studying a bit about cardinals I realized that I already had witnessed that Cardinals preferred to feed from the ground or from platform feeders. A friend had kept a seed block on the ground and the Cardinals had flocked to it constantly.  At The Shack, the most bird seed that ends up on the ground occurs during the process of my filling, flipping, and hanging the feeder. After that process, the majority of the seed remains in the feeder. 


Cardinals Love Trees and Plants with Berries


While I have had some shrubs and trees that produce berries, I don't have a great amount of those plants. I have planted a thornless blackberry plant and plan to plant blueberry bushes. After reviewing what Cardinals like, I suspect I'll spot many more Cardinals after my berry bushes begin to produce!

Cardinals also are attracted to Viburnum shrubs and Mulberry trees. The Viburnum Dilatatum "Henneke" is highly recommended to attract cardinals. Yes, I've just added Viburnums to my lengthy plant shopping list.
Viburnum Dilatatum "Henneke"
Dogwood trees also attract Cardinals. I do have Dogwood trees but they are deep in my woods, at the bottom of my property. Perhaps I have more of these gorgeous red birds at my property than I know. They may stay down at the other end of my land.


Bird baths


Cardinals are a type of bird that "readily visits bird baths". I need to get a bird bath. The water at the top of my ridge is limited. And while I have no way of keeping the bird bath full during the dry months and in between my visits, at least I could fill a bird bath each time I visit. 

I've had my eye on the Stone Age Creations bird baths for a long time. Maybe it is finally time to splurge!
Granite Boulder Birdbath by Stone Age Creations
Hopefully, planting more berry-producing trees and shrubs, hanging a different feeder, and putting out a bird bath will help attract these birds to my yard at The Shack.

*photo courtesy of wikimedia commons/public domain. Photographer: Ken Thomas.

Related Link:

Mary Beth recently reviewed Facts and Photos of the Northern Cardinal. If you like these beautiful red birds, be sure to take a peek at Mary Beth's article.

My online source for bird identification and information: Cornell's All About Birds. The variety of photos and audio clips of the bird's songs are very helpful.


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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Greenworks Blower Reviewed

Let the Spring Clean Up begin! Tidy up the yard, the  porch, the lawn and the garage in minutes with the Greenworks Single Amp Electric 160 mph Blower.

Greenworks blower

Easy To Use

Very easy to use with a one touch control. The Greenworks blower was ordered with Amazon Prime and arrived in two pieces. Simply snap in piece A to piece B and the assembly is complete in under one minute.
The cord is adequate, but more than likely an extension cord rated for outdoor use will be necessary depending upon the location of the electrical outlet. I highly prefer a lightweight blower with an extension cord versus a heavier cordless model.

Power

The Greenworks Blower has plenty of power for blowing leaves off the deck, the front porch and off the driveway. It provides enough power for a light Fall or Spring clean up for a small yard or between visits by a lawn service if the area is full of trees.

Trees drop their leaves in our area from September through November and last year we were buried in leaves between the last lawn mowing and the Fall Clean Up. The blower was a great convenience to blow a path on the driveway until the Fall Clean Up was completed.

Light!

The Greenworks 160 MOH Blower weighs in at a nice and light 5.6 pounds. Light enough to generate the power needed with the maneuverability necessary to aim the blower at its' target(s) without shoulder and arm fatigue.

Dust Off The Car Inside And Out!

This is not my original idea which begged me to ask myself, "Why didn't I think of that!" It is a little leaf blower hack that works great!

My friend mentioned to me when the Fall weather started to worsen and the outdoors was not conducive to car washing. Use the leaf blower to dust out the interior of the car. Yes!
Simply open all four doors and remove any objects in the car that are NOT to be blown onto the driveway or the garage.

Point the handy dandy Greenworks blower to the interior of the car and blow out all the dust! It works! Fabulously! Three minutes and the dust and debris from the interior of the car is gone.
This was a great hack for the middle of winter to freshen up the car in the throes of salt and winter weather.

Recommendation

I highly recommend the Greenworks blower if a lightweight blower is necessary for the health of your shoulders and arms. The blower has come in very handy and is one of my favorite home purchases. This Spring the blower has already used for a car dust off, driveway clean up, garage clean up, porch dust off and cobweb clean out.




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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Birds Butterflies and Bees in the Garden, What you Need to Know

How to successfully attract birds, bees and butterflies to your garden and enjoy them all season long!

Everyone that I know is so tired of winter.  Once the clocks have moved ahead for Daylight Savings Time, all of us are just counting down the days until we see those first signs of spring.
I have not yet had the delight of my first Robin or Blue Birds.  I know though that they will be coming very shortly.  And I am ready to welcome them all with some special treats that I know they will love.
birds, butterflies and bees in the garden, attracting wildlife, garden birds
Monarch Butterfly and bee on Asters
                                          

Three Basics That Are Essential

If you want the birds, bees and butterflies to come to your yard, you need to provide some of the things they will want.  
Like any other living creature, these little marvels of nature are looking for shelter, food and water.  Those are the essentials for any living being that you would care for.  Garden visitors are no different in that regard.  The only other thing that they may be looking for, would be a safe place to nest.  Trees and bushes are great for that!


Flowers are food!

Bees and butterflies and yes even the birds are looking for flowers to feed their appetites.  Pollen laden plants are a bee's best friend.  Butterflies and bees like nectar laden flowers too.  Birds are more attracted to seed heads that will come later in the year.  But they will use petals, and leaves to line their nests.  


Attracting different kinds of birds.

If you set out bird houses, you will certainly get some feathered friends calling your yard their home too.  Feeders for finches and hummingbirds will almost guarantee their arrival at your doorstep.  Plant the right kinds of flowers and you will have an abundance of these lovely little creatures to watch and enjoy.

Butterflies, birds  and bees will enjoy a bird bath.  The birds will splash around cooling themselves off in the heat of the summer, while the butterflies and bees will also stop for a drink and a little rest.  Butterflies and bees can also make use of the sugar water that is in your hummingbird feeders, so don't be surprised to see them there too. 

Having a place that is rich in flowers and shrubs with a few trees for their safety will make all of these creatures very happy to call your home, their home too!

Picking the flowers and shrubs to enhance your garden!

If you really want the butterflies, bees and birds in your garden, here is a list of some of the best ones to plant.

  1. Butterfly bush, as the name indicates is a magnet for many different types of butterflies, but they are also a magnet for hummingbirds too!
  2. Sunflowers, their flat heads are wonderful landing pads for all garden critters.
  3. Coneflowers will attract bluebirds, bees, and butterflies as well.
  4. ServiceBerry Bushes will attract cardinals, robins, cedar waxwings and more.
  5. Phlox is another great plant to attract birds and butterflies.

If you enjoy having these critters in the garden with you, make their lives easier by planting lots of the flowers that they love.  The list above is just a small sample of what plants are great to encourage wildlife in the yard.  It is by no means a complete list.  For that I refer to my book produced by Birds and Blooms Magazine.  


Gardening for Birds, Butterflies and Bees!



You can get your own right here! It is a great resource book and one that you can come back to and reference for future garden projects or additions.

You might also like to take up photography when you see how beautiful it is to have these creatures in your garden.  Mary Beth (another writer on Review This) shows us what it's like to take pictures and how to do it too!  You can check out her article right here: Bluebird Facts and Photography

Having a natural flower filled garden will surely bring you and all the visitors to your garden a lot of joy and happiness.  The colors and scents, along with all the activity will inspire you to enjoy the beauties of nature.

butterflies in the garden, attracting butterflies into the garden, garden flowers
Swallowtail Butterfly
attracting bees into the garden, garden bees, garden flowers
Bee with sunflower






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