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My Scotts handheld lawn spreader reviewed
No sprinkler system? Sprinkler system envy this year? If you have to water a large area of land or just regularly water a garden bed then a wifi controlled hose timer may be for you. Newly planted landscaping definitely need attentive watering and a hose timer can be a great time saver to expedite watering.
After a large revamp of the garden beds this year it was clear the area needed frequent watering and it was also clear the location of the outdoor water faucets did not correspond with the area needing watering. Many hoses and hose extensions would be required along with constant monitoring and moving of the sprinklers.
I researched quite a few remote controlled or Wifi controlled hose timers in order to expedite the watering of the garden beds. Of course remote controlled hoses do not spare the gardener from moving the hoses! Pro Tip: End the watering by leaving the hose/hose timer in the area that needs the most water, then you can remotely start watering that area the next day.
2022 In the Garden will be a time of renewal, rebirth and refreshment of the earth and you! If you ask any gardener they will certainly tell you that time spent in the garden is Time Well Spent.
Not counting tomatoes and squash, I have not been a successful gardener. And I would dearly love to have a productive vegetable garden. However, I am especially bad at starting my own seeds. I am also really bad at putting plants out too late in the season. Until this year! This year I have had the help of two seed-starting guides. Today I am reviewing the Clyde's Garden Planner and my local Extension Service Garden Calendar. I haven't yet transplanted my seedlings outside but already am seeing much better results!
I have never had much success at starting vegetable seeds for gardens. I also have never had much success outside of growing tomatoes and squash. It always caused me to wonder - why could I grow enough tomatoes and squash to feed a small army but nothing else. Over the past couple of seasons I have learned that successful seed starting has to do with two main things; timing related to last frost and growing conditions. Here I am reviewing two things I am depending on this year with seed starting that relates to timing related to frost dates.
My gardening style had historically been to buy all of the different vegetable plants I wanted, when they are available in the store, and stick them in the ground (or containers when I lived in the apartment) at the same time. Most - if not all - of those plants died.
Because I am a procrastinator, I often planted late in the spring. I now realize that it was warm enough then for the tomatoes and squash to be happy. But the cool weather plants withered away. And the plants that needed a longer growing season never had the length of time they needed to produce their vegetable.
When I did start seeds, I would start tomatoes indoors and they sprouted despite my ineptitude. If I was lucky enough (rather than skilled enough) to place them in a south-facing window, I ended up with excellent tomato plants. Otherwise, I ended up with super tall, super thin plants that died (I know now that this is called "leggy" and it's from lack of adequate light). I found that I could start squash plants outside by putting seeds in the ground by the time I got around to it (very late spring/early summer). But plants such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkin would grow vines but no vegetable. They didn't have enough time.
I have since learned that vegetable seeds need to be started in related to frost dates. Which means the "last frost date" which is the projected last day in the spring that your area could receive frost and the "first frost date" which is the projected first day in the fall when the temperatures are lowering and frost could appear.
Somewhere along the way, I learned that seed packets give directions about starting seeds. For example, my Amish Paste Tomato seed packets read "Start indoors 6-10 weeks before last frost." That's very helpful.
It is easy to do an internet search for your expected last frost date for that year. This year, mine is May 5th. But then it was a matter of using a calendar and counting back however many weeks for each thing I wanted to plant. I am not an organized type of person and this making lists from calendars and counting back was sheer madness for me.
Then I discovered Clyde's Garden Planner. Absolute relief.
Clyde's Garden Planter was the best $7 I have ever spent. It is a simple sleeve of super thick card stock folder over, holding another piece of card stock that slides back and forth. You locate your average last frost date in the spring, slide the red line indicating the last frost to that date, and voila! You can easily and quickly see the recommended planting dates (and whether it is to "seed indoors" or "outdoor planting") of 21 different plants!
Easy as that!
I cannot adequately describe how helpful this one little visual tool has been.
More advanced gardeners will appreciate that at each end of the slide there is a wealth of information such as
There was always a Swiss Cheese Plant in our home when I was growing up. I did not know then that its Latin name is Monstera, but as a striking and larger than average house plant, it is certainly appropriate. As a child, I loved its jungle feel and the fact that it was bigger than me!
It is a beautiful and stunning indoor plant. In the 1970's it was a staple houseplant in many people's homes and was a background feature along with other plants.
Now it is again a very popular houseplant but it has taken more of a center stage being used as a real statement plant in a prominent position and even as a fashion trend.
|Monstera Leaves and aerial roots.|
Grown as an indoor house plant this plant can grow to about 3 to 8 foot so it is a substantial house plant.
The leaves are pliable and very soft to touch and a pretty light or dark green glossy colour.
When the leaves are young they are of a solid heart shape. As they grow older the leaf develops splits in the leaf and this process gives it its name as it can look a little like swiss cheese.
It can grow large but we can also keep it at a manageable size to fit the space. Though if you can let it grow as large as it will it looks even more stunning.
|Mature Monstera Leaf With Split Against My Hand|
It is often useful and interesting to learn where the plants we have in our homes come from and what their native conditions are so we can better replicate them and keep them happy in our homes.
In native conditions in Central and South America, it grows under large trees in a jungle. In natural conditions, it can grow to up to seventy foot in height but it will not reach anywhere near this in a pot indoors. We can expect our plant to grow to approximately no bigger than eight foot if left to grow as big as it can.
Monstera does like to climb and has aerial roots which grow downwards from its main stem. As a houseplant, we can help it mimic its natural conditions by putting in strong support like a stake. As it can grow quite floppy and sprawling otherwise it can brace itself against the stake and do what it would in a jungle pushing itself onto a neighbouring tree or tangled vine for support as it grows upwards.
In its native conditions, this plant can flower a lovely white flower but it very rarely does as a houseplant. I have never seen a flower. So when you grow this plant indoors grow it for its beautiful glossy leaves of shades of green from light fresh green to mid and then dark green.
|Swiss Cheese Plant or Monstera|
For such a big statement plant it requires remarkably little care. If you do not think you are good with houseplants then this is one that is hard to get wrong. I think it is one of the easiest plants I have.
It likes moist soil but never waterlogged, so regular consistent watering is best. As usual with house plants the best guide is the stick a finger about an inch into the soil if it is wet do not water but if dry or in this case nearly dry then water.
The soil should be water retentive but not too claggy so a good houseplant and compost mix on the neutral to acid side is best.
In its native situation it grows in the shade of large trees so do not place this plant in a sunny position. It needs a bright but shaded spot. It can cope with a few hours of the morning sun but absolutely no more than that.
As its large leaves can get dusty over time I like to take a cotton wool ball soaked in warm water and just gently wipe across the leaves. I only do this when they look dusty. This used to be one of my jobs when I was a child and I still enjoy doing it.
Monstera likes to be warm and loves humidity so an ideal situation is a heated bright bathroom where the light is filtered via blinds or obscured window panes and where the family take showers or baths.
Feed it regularly with Baby Bio or similar once a month and you will have a happy plant.
It can have pests and diseases such as whitefly, mealybug, spider mites, powdery mildew to name a few but I have never had an issue and if you keep it in conditions it likes it will be healthy.
These infestations will rarely kill this plant anyway but look unsightly and weaken it so we have to control them and in this case I would use an insecticide or fungicide depending on the issue.
There are two things to watch for with the leaves. If you see a leaf or many leaves turning black then it is effectively that the plant has been sunburnt or scorched by being kept in a sunny place for too long.
The individual leaf cannot recover from this so the best thing is the prune away that leaf from the bottom of the stem. This will only happen if it has been exposed to too much direct sunlight so is easily avoided.
If you see the leaves turning yellow then we have overwatered. we must stop watering immediately, turn the pot and drain off any excess water and leave to dry. If very waterlogged we may be best repotting the plant into fresh dry soil and starting again with light watering.
While it likes moisture it hates sitting in wet soil so this can easily be avoided by only watering when the plant is nearly dry.
All parts of this plant are toxic to pets so it is best to keep it well away from them. Another reason a bathroom may be the best spot.
The plant featured here was one I bought as a sale plant a few months ago and I had to do a lot of pruning away of damaged leaves and sun scorched leaves. It was very large but uncared for. I have left one scorched leaf for you to see. This will need to be pruned away at the base. The plant was also unstable in its pot and rocking from its roots so I repotted in a new deeper pot so it is stable. My next job is to install firm support so it can climb.
I reduced the plant considerably in size but as you can see there is a lot of new growth and one leaf is already mature enough to have developed splits. So I was really happy I rescued this plant!
|Swiss Cheese Plant old sun damaged leaf next to new young leaf.|
Who would have thought this plant would have become so fashionable. I tend not to grow plants indoors or outdoors for fashion trends but because I love them.
However, the trend is there for this plant to be used in wedding flowers, as centerpieces and large statement plants in prestigious offices.
People even cut a single stem with a large leaf on it and use it much as flower decoration in a vase of water, where it does look very striking.
It really suits an environment that is minimalist, clean and unfussy or where flowers would look too much. Its large size and dark glossy leaves do add understated style and substance.
There is even Monstera wallpaper which can look amazing as a real statement in the right place.
The Swiss Cheese Plant was so popular in the 1970's and then like many houseplants fell out of favour. However, now there is a thankfully increased appreciation of the beauty of houseplants and how good they are for us as well as looking beautiful and enhancing our home decor.
Fashion and trends come and go but I hope the love and appreciation for houseplants are here to stay now and I will never fall out of love with this amazing plant. It will grace our home with its simple stunning good looks for a very long time.
|Metal Wind Spinners For The Garden Reviewed|
I wanted to buy a wind spinner to place in our garden for some time. I have admired them in others people's gardens and a few months ago we bought two!
I do like a wind spinner in the garden. In this review, I am covering Wind Spinners that stake into the ground. There are also those we can hang up. They are a joy all year round. In the winter they are a lovely sight when perhaps there is not so much interest in the garden and when the sun shines on a cold frosty day they really do look gorgeous
In a storm or even just when windy they do spin round and provide lots of movement for a sculpture. In Spring they seem to compliment the emerging bulbs and fresh green shoots and spin more gently in the breeze.
In summer they may be calmer and with perhaps less breeze a more static feature but beautiful and providing height and a lovely focal point. In autumn we have the breezes picking up and the wind spinners back in action shining out as the plants start to retreat.
If a garden needs a sculpture or a little drama and movement or even just in winter when it may be a little lacking in interest a wind spinner can provide a little colour and drama to the space.
|Cup Or Spoons Metal Wind Spinner|
If the garden is full of colour a natural bronze or silver wind spinner can calm and ground the space complimenting the flowers while they bloom and be a constant in the ever-changing bud to bloom to fading process. Or a fun colour Wind spinner can simply add to the riot of joy!
The weather can be dull, windy, rainy, snowy or bright or golden sunlight and a wind spinner or two can really shine out in the garden and give it a beautiful constant focal point.
|Leaf Metal Wind Spinner In The Breeze!|
Ours are two bronze metal wind spinners. I wanted ones that are robust, long-lasting, beautiful and timeless.
I also wanted ones that really spin fast in the wind and have a reference to nature so a natural shape and feel to them.
Ours have integral long stakes that you simply push into firm soil. I love the way the metal shines when it is sunny and gives a gorgeous bronze glow.
They certainly do spin well in the winds yet have not fallen over or become damaged even in a recent storm.
|Metal Wind Spinner On Stake|
Keep them in a place clear from other vegetation. If they are too close to the other plants the plants can become tangled up in the spinner and that is not good for the plants or the wind spinner.
They do need to have a firm anchor in the ground. This can be into the soil itself or into pots I have mine in pots on the patio and the stakes are firmly deep into the soil. You do need to test that they are firmly anchored and secure.
I also find watching our wind spinners very relaxing. A gentle breeze and they turn around slowly almost meditatively and in a storm they really spin round with energy!
We have them in sight of our windows so even on a very windy cold or rainy day we can watch them in comfort. I think it is good if you can see them from a window so you can enjoy them all year round whatever the weather.
Wind spinners take up little room and would be totally suitable for a large garden to a small patio area as long as they can be securely pushed into the ground.
I have not noticed any particular noise from ours but some do emit a gentle sound when they spin.
|Leaf Metal Wind Spinner On Long Stake|
Much as I wanted a wind spinner, I was a little concerned at first that our local wildlife might not like them and stay away from our patio.
I had read that they can scare birds away and even that they can be useful as a benign deterrent if you want to keep birds off fruit or vegetables or freshly sown seed.
However, I need not have worried as our garden birds took no notice of them at all!
The sparrows still come in small flocks to pick grit from our wall, flying straight over one wind spinner, the blackbirds visit the patio for food in the pots happily kicking out the soil to look for food in even the pot I had spiked the wind spinner and nothing seems to mind in the slightest. We currently have small birds scoping out the bird boxes and sparrows noisily debating over who gets the best place in the eaves this year.
Even the neighbour's cat is not remotely afraid of the wind spinners as he calmly sat watching them while washing his fur the other day.
|Leaf Metal Wind Spinner In Bronze|
However, I must remember that our garden birds are very used to us and to us moving things around on our patio. They have never been hurt or afraid. It is pretty much their garden, we just visit it from time to time! In fact, during the breeding season, we often get chittered and scolded for daring to be in their garden! They are wild birds but very confident around us.
I do however keep the wind spinners away from the bird feeders and the birdbath and any known nesting sites in the shrubs just in case they find it distracting.
If you are concerned about scaring the birds but want a wind spinner simply place it in an area where either you know birds do not frequent much perhaps close to the house and monitor it. If you do have seeds, fruit or plants you want to protect from birds a wind spinner placed nearby may act as a deterrent but I can't promise it. Success with that may depend on how your birds view you and your garden!
|Spoon Or Cup Metal Wind Spinner In Bronze|
I think they make a beautiful gift for anyone who loves their garden and would like some added interest. Wind spinners are available in such a wide range of choices there is something for everyone.
Ours are bronze look and one is a leaf shape and one is a spoon or cup shape.
There are wind spinners of plain colours or many vibrant colours and everything in between. Many have gorgeous shapes and either beautiful colours or natural tones, all equally stunning.
There is a wide range of sizes and prices from affordable to high-end.
I would certainly buy more wind spinners for our garden and buy them as gifts. I love our bronze wind spinners and the next time we buy one it may be a cheerful brightly coloured one for fun. It was hard to choose just four for this selection but I have tried to show the variety available.
Insect Hotels can be bought or handmade and are both equally effective. When you have a bug house you are aiming to attract all manner of insects and wildlife to gain a balance of insects in your garden which is vital if you are aiming to have a harmonious wildlife garden.
Having an Insect Hotel in the garden is not entirely altruistic. The aim of any wildlife gardener is to use no pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides at all.
These chemicals kill "pests" and beneficial insects equally in most cases and are not good for wildlife.
For the gardener, an insect hotel can attract all manner of bugs and many predators that will help us to keep a good balance in the garden thus eliminating the need to use pesticides.
|Bee on Daffodil|
In the early days of converting a normal garden to a wildlife pesticide-free garden, this can take some nerve. A garden needs a natural balance of predator and prey.
If you or a previous garden have been using chemicals then stop, undoubtedly in the first year or so you will see greenfly and blackfly and all manner of pests eating our plants. This is because your garden became unbalanced. It is now for us to redress this balance and installing insect houses is one easy step.
However, if we want a wildlife friendly garden we must resist the urge to use chemicals. Instead, we must attract the beneficial insects, spiders and predators to our gardens who will easily and quickly dispatch those pests eating our plants.
A great way to do this especially in the early days is to have an Insect Hotel or several bughouses. Provide insects shelter and a food source and they will arrive.
|Insect Hotel In Garden|
Personally in the first two years of taking on this garden, I simply did not grow plants I knew would be susceptible to aphid attack. The previous gardeners had used chemicals and had a very non-wildlife friendly garden, so I knew once I stopped all chemical use I would face some difficulties.
It took a year or two to fully balance the garden again. I was lucky as my neighbours also stopped using chemicals which helps a lot as wildlife do not know about boundaries. It was so worth it as since then I have not had to spend any money on insect prevention, the predators do it all for me free of charge night and day!
In this article, we will mainly talk about insect houses with a mention and further resources to our ground-dwelling beneficial creatures need as well.
A Bughouse is best located in a warm undisturbed spot in your garden. For insects, it is important it is in a fairly dry area so under the house or shed eaves, in a tree or against a sunny fence.
Some may be a thing of beauty or they may be something you wish to hide from full view. Either way, it does not matter to the bugs as long as they can go about their business undisturbed. We like the look of ours so we do not make any particular effort to hide them.
|Close Up Of Insect Hotel|
Generally, you can expect a variety of insects such as ladybirds and woodlice. You will get spiders of course and hopefully bees or maybe wasps.
These are all beneficial creatures to your garden. These creatures need a place to shelter, raise their young and keep themselves and their young hidden from predators.
You can of course just put up your insect hotel and forget about it, but It can be good fun to carefully observe your insect hotel to see who has taken up residence.
It is better to have several insect-specific bughouses around the garden in suitable locations than one great big multi-bug house.
The idea is that each will be more suitable for one species than another. Of course, there is no way of knowing who will decide to take up residence!
The rationale is that different species require different approaches. For example, a home to attract bees requires a warm sunny dry location. Ideally, it should face south or as near south as possible and the area in front of it would be clear of vegetation. It is important to be a few feet off the ground and secured strongly to a wall, tree or fence.
|Insect Hotel In The Woods|
Spiders are happy in a site with more cover where they can spin webs between tree branches and the insect hotel but in my experience, they are not too fussy.
In addition, while you are siting your bug houses spare a thought for ground dwelling creatures like hedgehogs who are also very beneficial to our gardens.
Hedgehogs are a species in serious decline. A lovely pile of wood and leaves in an undisturbed corner of the garden will go a long way towards helping these enchanting and ancient creatures. If you would like to take it a step further you can purchase a special house for them known as a Hogitat. Please read more about How To Help Hedgehogs In Your Garden
|Well Established Wood Pile|
If you are wanting to attract frogs and toads they will love a warm wet, damp environment in a shady spot down on the ground.
You can start a wildlife hotel at any time though you may be more successful if you put one up in early Spring or Autumn/Fall.
Ideally, you will have a bug house made of natural materials. The wood is best untreated with no paint or preservatives as that will only deter and harm insects.
|Wooden tubes for insects in Bug House|
The structure needs to be strong and solid with a sloping and wide roof to keep the rain out.
If you are buying a bug house with pre-drilled holes in the wood they should be smooth and if doing it yourself make sure there are no splinters.
Think about the types of creatures or insects you want to attract and the habitat they require.
|Wood shavings for insects in bug hotel|
Bug houses are a great learning experience. It is also a wonderful fun and educational opportunity for children to learn about and appreciate the natural world.
In a small wood near a busy residential area, primary school children have made insect houses to site all over the wood to help the local wildlife and they take great pride in their creations and interest in the inhabitants.
|Bug Hotel In The Woods Good For Winter Shelter|
In our garden, we have a dry insect house 3 feet off the ground on a sunny fence, a log pile in a shady but warm corner to attract hedgehogs and in a corner near the garage a large saucer of water with dense habitat around it to attract frogs and toads. The spiders seem to make their home in many of these locations as well.
Having a bug hotel or two and making a habitat for wildlife is very enriching in our gardens and our lives.
Insect houses take up very little room, so most people could have an insect house in an outdoor space. The end result of all this care is a garden that is filled with the sound and sights of beautiful insects.
Yes, we do still get greenfly and blackfly, but predator insects soon become aware of them and keep the numbers down or even eradicate them for me. We do perhaps have to accept some level of pest attack on our plants but when you achieve that crucial balance it becomes less of a problem.
I am certainly prepared to have some plant damage to know that I am not killing all insects indiscriminately. Chemicals kill both "pests" and beneficial insects.
I once had a houseplant that became invested with a type of whitefly, so as it was summer I put it outside during the day for a few days and the wasps ate all the flies for me and the plant survived.
Other insects like this gorgeous butterfly happily live in the garden now going about their daily lives and bring me a lot of joy.
|Beautiful Butterfly In Summer|
People often think about the beautiful more visible wildlife like birds, but it all really begins with the small perhaps less beautiful or more scary insects. If we take more care of them they will help our gardens be more healthy and we will certainly see more birds and other gorgeous wildlife as well.
Without our negative influence of chemicals, over time the garden adopts an easy give and take, ebb and flow of natural processes and our plants and us benefit from that.
There are many useful and fun things you can do for wildlife in our own garden spaces, having a few insect hotels is a great start.
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