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

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lady Bugs are So Cool

Now you must admit, this little red and black bug really is quite cute to look at!  When I review the benefits of having these Lady Bugs in the garden, I can't help myself, I am happy, and smiling.

These little bugs are the kind that you want to see in your garden! They are wanted for their ability to eat immense numbers of "bad bugs" that gardeners and farmers all over the world seem to have. Surprisingly, they are fairly long lived as bugs go! They have a life span of 2 to 3 years. Did you know that? According to the National Geographic that's what a lifetime for a lady bug is!

Others tend to think that lady bugs live a few months to a couple of years, I've never been able to follow just one to find out for myself which estimate is correct!

From the time I was a young girl (not so many years ago) I have always loved these little critters. I did not know then, that these were some of the best bugs to have around. That was long before I became a gardener or had any inkling of getting my hands dirty!  I just know that I liked them even when I was younger.   If one would happen to land on me, my day just seemed to be great!


Lady Bugs are Beneficial to Gardens


While most bugs in the garden tend to hide, these little guys just seem to scream, "Here I am!"

I can remember my sister and I going out to the garden to hunt these lady bugs and see who could get more of them........It was a game that we would play for hours. When we had enough of them gathered in a jar, my mother would immediately take us out to the tomato garden and watch us release our beauties right there. She would be pleased as punch that she now had her own "army" to do some of the gardening work!

My sister and I wouldn't mind either, because we could go out and watch them all day long. Now that I am all grown up, I think back to those Lady Bug hunting days with a smile on my lips, because I still go out to my garden to look for my little lovelies! But, I also look for ways to encourage them to stay in my garden! That means planting things that will in effect also draw aphids. That is not hard to do, because aphids have got to be one of the biggest garden pests going and they are attracted to many different kinds of flowers, including roses. So if you are a lover of roses, you just might want to also become a lover of Lady Bugs!


Lady Bugs are a favorite for many people.  There are many different items available with lady bugs as their motif.  From jewelry to coffee mugs. games and books, all use the lovely red/black and white coloring of the lady bugs to enchant and captivate their audience. I think that's one of the reasons you will find them in so many places.

I can remember when we first had our children. My sweetling ( one of hubbie's pet names)  was a budding carpenter (woodworker) and decided that he would build our baby's crib! He did a great job and while it was painted a very plain white, we wanted something to brighten up the new baby's bedroom. Well,  of course I went out looking for lady bugs! Truth be known, at the time they were hard to find, and I didn't trust my artistic ability. We searched and searched and searched (this was pre-internet days) and could not find what we wanted.

The baby's grandparents were on the way to Switzerland and there they found some beautiful ladybug decals. So, when they were back home, the decals were the first things to find a special place, and that was on the headboard and foot-board of the new crib........ Today I would have found some pictures and painted them on the crib myself, but like I said earlier, I didn't trust my artistic abilities at that time. How things have changed. Since that time (almost 45 years ago) lady bugs and insects in general have been given a whole new spotlight on the decorator's radar. You can find all kinds of bugs, beetles, insects and more to decorate your child's room. Not to mention flowers, and trees and a host of other "earth friendly" decorating ideas.


The Charm of Lady Bugs 


Lady Bugs are considered to be good luck, so if you get one to visit you, you are lucky too! There is something charming about Lady Bugs, and I don't really know why they stand out. It could be their color as those cute little red, black and bits of white, just make me smile. Maybe it's the whole idea that they are beneficial bugs that makes them desired, all I know is that,every time I wear my  Lady Bug pin, someone comments on it. There are rhymes that are told about Lady Bugs, stories that are written about Lady Bugs and a whole lot more. The bottom line is that lady bugs with their primary colors are wonderful ways to get children involved with their surroundings and get them thinking in earth friendly terms. I think the earth would appreciate having some youngsters interested in keeping the world green and healthy!
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Start small and work your way up to some real Earth Friendly activities! Budding entomologists, scientists, gardeners, are being formed just by awareness, and you can't start too early for that.

Get your little ones started on the road to learning about the earth and it's bugs with - a host of stories and books about the critters around them!

A deep love for all things of the earth are possible if you take the time to encourage that activity. Children are a natural place to start, because their curiosity is boundless.

Feed that curiosity with books, games and puzzles and who knows, you just might be encouraging the next generation of "earth sciences" scientists.


Even grown ups love lady bugs, so let your inner child out and enjoy what you did as a child.  Lady bugs are not just for kids to enjoy! If you loved them as a child, there is nothing stopping you from loving them now too!


Grammie Olivia loves to write on Review This, and offer a few suggestions for you to enjoy with your youngsters.  She is an Amazon Affiliate and if you click on her links, she will be paid a small commission. And because she loves LadyBugs so much you just know she will have them on her website`s banner!http://grammieknowshow.com/






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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Backyard Garden Birds: Springtime Review

Backyard Bird World
With the arrival of Spring, many of us see charming birds return to our backyard gardens. So, it's time to review what these birds need to encourage them. Besides Robins, which nearly everyone of us sees as heralding Spring, there are many regional birds. Like the Eastern Bluebird. OK, that's one of my personal favorites. And I found an article on Easy Backyard Gardening that highlights these delightful little birds.

Great Photo Opportunities


The author of Best Wooden Birdhouses shares photos of the Eastern Bluebirds that occupy her own backyard garden. She has a wooden birdhouse for them that blends well with her wooden fence. A nice security features for the birds themselves.

Anytime you add bird-friendly features to your own backyard gardens you get great photo opportunities. I can attest to that. I have been able to get photos of baby Swifts in the nest, brilliant Northern Cardinals on my window feeder and Yellow Finches hanging out in my Cedar trees.

The simple addition of a good wooden birdhouse will give you plenty of photo opps. Just make sure to stop and see the birds.

Hummingbirds in Backyard Gardens


Most everyone can enjoy the return of the tiny hummingbird. With a few-well placed feeders (www.backyardbirdworld.com/bird-houses-feeders/care-of-hummingbird-feeders), these
Care of Hummingbird Feeders
birds will return to your backyard garden year after year. Hummingbird feeders take a little bit of care, but are definitely worth the time. Seeing the hovering little birds around your yard is a site worth enjoying.

So make sure to add feeders that will encourage hummingbirds to share your garden space with you. For those of you who enjoy planting flowers, add some bright red ones. That will also help hummingbirds be attracted to your backyard gardens. The beauty of the flowers will be enhanced by the presence of charming birds.

Get Your Backyard Garden Ready


Make sure to take a little time and get your own backyard garden ready to welcome back the springtime birds. Whether it's a new wooden birdhouse or a hummingbird feeder, the birds will appreciate it. And you will appreciate seeing the birds in your garden.





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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Reviewing the Kaytee Finch Station

Easy Way To Attract More Finches

One of my favorite birds is the American Goldfinch and I have found that using the Kaytee Finch Station is a great way to get more of them to visit my backyard. Before placing the feeding station in my little bird garden, I would have a few of these lovely little yellow birds come around but only just a few. After having placed this feeder with mesh tubes next to the other feeders, I found that even more came to dine. It is not unusual to see 10 to 15 goldfinches feeding at the same time. What a beautiful sight that is!

The image to the left is not one of the little finches that visits my own yard but one that I found at Pixabay. I never seem to have my own camera ready to grab a neat shot of the sweet little goldfinches that come to my yard. 

I have to admit that when I first saw the Kaytee Finch Station I thought it was one ugly feeder. It has a large yellow dome that serves as both protection and the place where you add the nyjer seeds. Then the mesh sock tube hangs from the dome.


I took a chance on it anyway because I really did want to have more finches feeding in my backyard. I have not been disappointed! The joy of seeing all those finches feeding at one time far outweighs the not so attractive looking feeder. Just goes to show you that birds don't care if a feeder is pretty or not, they want something that helps them find the food they want to eat in an easy way.

The added benefit of that plastic dome at the top is that the squirrels can not get to the mesh sock. Oh they try, believe me they try! Those little varmints (squirrels are my mortal enemies, you know) may get to the dome but they slide right off.

I also love that inside the package is a spare sock which comes in handy if for some reason the other one gets torn. Honestly, I haven't had to use the spare but I know I have one if I need it.

Oddly, I find that it is mostly the goldfinches that feed on this feeder. The cute little house finches don't seem to use it as much as the goldfinches do. I have seen them go to it but they don't stay long. That is fine with me because the view of several yellow birds hanging on that sock is just breathtaking!

If you love to feed the avian visitors in your yard and you like goldfinches, you will not regret getting a Kaytee Finch station. The tube feeders work well but this one with the mesh sock has worked better for me than the tubes that I have used in the past.


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, April 6, 2016

Hummers Are On Their Way North, Be Ready!

Every year I look forward to the hummingbird migration that takes place and I watch with bated breath for that first sign that they have found my feeders.

Did you know that you could track the migration?  Yearly, there is a group that posts on a map, where the hummers were seen and diligently marked the date and the location.  That way anyone who is interested can do their little part in the drama that takes places every year as the Hummingbirds move from reasonably warm climates in the winter to the more northern climates for late spring and summer.

2016 Hummingbird Migration Map

Click on the link above and you can see exactly where the Hummers are moving and even add your location and date when you spot them at your neck of the woods.

The best way to have the Hummers appear in your yard is to make sure there is red coloring readily visible and a Hummingbird feeder close by as well.  I take the time to get some red flags (not hard in Canada) and I put them up around my yard.  Hummingbirds can see the color red from miles away and it usually means there is food close by.  They assume the red is some of their favorite flowers and after flying for so many miles, these little dynamites need all the nectar their little bodies can hold.

Planting a Hummingbird Garden, will almost guarantee that you will be visited by these lovely little creatures at some point in the summer months.  They love Cardinal Flower, Anise Sage,  Bergamot or Monarda, Honeysuckle vine, Trumpet vine,  Canna Lilies, Coral Bells, Four O'Clocks, Foxgloves, Hosta, Lupines and Yucca.  There are a number of annual plants that they also like.  Fuschia, petunias, Impatiens, Jewelweed (Balsam) and any number of Salvias species.

I can remember one year I had a row of Canna Lilies planted and I was standing outside by them, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw this little wee bird almost at my ear, beating it wings like crazy.  I thought it was going to perch on my shoulder.  I was so excited to be so close to this wee wonder of the sky.

Hummingbirds will thank you for planting the flowers that they love and having a source of water and a place to rest away from predators.  If you can provide those things, you can be sure that they will come to your house and they will come back year after year.....

I have my favorite hummingbird feeder that I use, and it is filled with a mixture of plain white sugar mixed 1:4,   One part sugar to 4 parts water.  Fill the feeder and set it out where the red lid of the feeder is visible.  I do not use food coloring or anything other sweeteners, just plain white sugar and water, changing the water in the feeders every two or three days....sugar water can spoil in as little as two days.  So clean out the feeder every two to three days to keep the sugar water fresh.  Monthly you should give the feeder a good cleaning making sure to rinse out the feeders with running water. Hummers do not like the taste of soap.....or you can use regular white vinegar to clean the feeders. Just remember to fill them, with a cup or more of sugar water and get them back up again as soon as possible.



Audubon Hummingbird Feeder (NAH1)12 ounce nectar capacity This is my favorite humming bird feeder, but there are others available as well. I personally have found this one to be superior in attracting hummers to my yard and I have tried the other ones. This one is easy to fill, and easy to clean. It has a large bright red cover over the syrup holder and makes it easy for hummers to spot in the yard. So far, it has been the one that has been most successful in attracting and keeping these little wonders close for me to enjoy. Watch this incredible footage of hummingbirds in flight, slowed down, so you can see how much they work to keep themselves in the air...
I hope I have encouraged you to try and help our little wonders of the sky as they delight and dance for us all summer long.

A good friend of mine is a nature photographer who has had many of her pictures featured on Birds and Blooms Magazine. Carol has granted me permission to share with you a beautiful picture of a male Hummingbird, whose countenance I just love.  While they are tiny, they are certainly very majestic and so appealing in color.  I hope you enjoy this little one as much as I do.
Carol L. Edwards Photography: Hummingbirds &emdash; RTHU_7001 CLE
And if you are interested I have also included a link to her site, so that you can fill your eyes with beautiful birds anytime you like...... http://carolledwards.com/ There is beauty in the world and it is there for us to see and enjoy. I hope you did and continue to do so.....Nature is free for all of us!


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Monday, April 4, 2016

Stone Age Boulder Owls Review

What in the world is a Stone Age Boulder Owl?  Well, I'll tell you what it is. Today, I discovered an item that will delight owl lovers, gardeners, and carved stone collectors alike. Boulder Owls are one-of-a-kind garden ornaments carved from stone.  As I looked at their little faces today, I wanted to take each one home with me.  


Carved Stone Garden Ornaments


I enjoy nice garden ornaments and statues.  I don't want many. Just a few expressive, quality items. I am also quite fond of stone. Stone of all kinds. So naturally, these little carved stone owls immediately caught my eye.  The difficulty was not deciding that I wanted one, but rather, deciding which one I wanted. 

Since I was seeing them at Sun Nurseries, I could see and touch each one individually. These little owls were so simple, yet so expressive. And because they are made of natural stone, they are substantial. Even at their sizes ranging from 6" to 18" they would be solid additions to a garden.  Unlike many yard ornaments that are made from lightweight and flimsy materials.


A small portion of the Boulder Owls I saw today


Fairy and Miniature Garden Sized Owls


These owls are also offered in 2" sizes that are suitable for fairy gardens. I know precious little about these teeny gardens but have seen a few adorable examples.  These smallest boulder owls are perfectly sized for miniature gardening.  

Some reviewers report that the 2" owls are slightly less detailed. However, this makes sense to me due to their very small size.


Stone Age Creations, Ltd.


Once upon a time, there were two cousins who shared a passion for stone.  They made a few carved birdbaths and benches that were sold locally.  Since then, they quit their unrelated, full-time jobs and began earning a living doing what they love. They now manufacture and distribute their items to retailers (such as garden centers).  I had the privilege of seeing MANY of their products: benches, birdbaths, stone lanterns, garden accents, and animals. Every item was high quality and beautiful.

If you like quality stone items, you should take a peek at their photographs on the Stone Age Creations website.

Boulder Owl by Stone Age Creations

Note: When ordering online, because they are handcrafted, each one will be different. And will likely not be the owl pictured in the photo.





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Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring Forward and Spruce Up that Balcony

My springtime sunset view
Our clocks have just sprung ahead and spring becomes official in a matter of days. Whether you live in an area that is celebrating the end of blizzards and ice storms or an area that remains mild all year, the sun shinier days of spring bring on a desire to embrace the outdoors. And there is no better way to celebrate spring than to include your outdoor living space in your spring cleaning and redecorating.  Here are five inexpensive ways to spruce up your small balcony or patio areas.

If you gift yourself a comfortable and personalized place to relax, your outdoor living area will become an extension of your home.  As you can see, the experience and the views while sitting outdoors can be priceless. 


Low-Cost Outdoor Seating


Patio and balcony seating does not have to cost a small fortune. Neither does it have to be large and bulky.  You can create seating no matter how small your outdoor area.


I wish I had a slightly larger balcony so that I could DIY my own furniture.  But because my balcony is so small, and because I want to make sure to save sufficient space for plants, I tend to use an assortment of ever-changing rugs and cushions to keep my space comfy. 

The best part about using cushions is that they are easily changed to suit the season or your mood. My textiles on the balcony have changed from animal prints, to bright florals, to very earthy/neutral colors, and back again. Go ahead, spruce up your balcony with a few new cushions. 


Beautiful Bird Pillow


Indoor/Outdoor Loveseat-sized Cushion

Outdoor Flooring


I love the coziness of a rug on my balcony. Rugs add so much comfort to an outdoor area.  People are right to be concerned about the deterioration of indoor rugs that are exposed to the elements and the damage that can be done by wet carpets on balconies.

I have wooden flooring on my deck. During blowing rain, my rugs are sometimes soaked. But that does not stop me from using rugs (especially runners) to add color and comfort. I am careful to use rugs that are suitable for the outdoors. Sometimes, I use thinner indoor rugs but am sure to watch for moisture gathered under them and hang them over the rail to dry when necessary.


Indoor/Outdoor Floral Runner




Green Space: Morning Glories and Other Suitable Greenery


We know this world needs more green space. Not only for the health of our earth, but I fully believe for our own health.  No matter how small your outdoor space, you can certainly find some suitable greenery.  


My green privacy screen
Over the years - through trial and error - I have found that marigolds, morning glories, tomatoes, mint, lavender, and rosemary flourish in my third floor balcony garden.  I had some success with blueberries, believe it or not, and would have likely had better success had I remembered to have someone water my blueberry bushes during a period of time that I was away.

My favorite part of having a living balcony is my morning glory privacy screen. Each year, my morning glories twine up the railing and provide a living green screen that delights me with the increased protection from the prying eyes of neighbors and provides the visiting hummingbirds and bees with an extra snack. 



Soothing Sounds - Water Features and Wind Chimes


Two very popular items for outdoor areas are water features and wind chimes.  

I gravitate toward wind chimes. Listening to them tinkling in the wind is something that soothes me.  Small wind chimes can tinkle like tiny bits of glass and large wind chimes can sound like distant church bells on a country Sunday morning.  Bamboo chimes have a natural, "woodsy" sound. Some chimes including shining and sparkling bits that reflect prisms as they move in the breeze.  Frankly, wind chimes and the different varieties deserve their own article.

I have found a great many people who have "desktop" water features on their small balconies. What a great idea!  I am tempted to make room in my outdoor space for one of these so that I too can listen to running water while just steps outside of my livingroom.  I think the Alpine Tabletop Leaf Fountain would be a great addition to my balcony garden. 





Going to the Birds



Balconies and Bird Feeders go together like peanut butter and jelly. At least they do around my place. I love bird feeders. I have kept seed feeders on my previous balconies and enjoyed the many feathered friends who came to visit.

My current balcony is not as suited to a seed feeder. So I stick with a hummingbird feeder.  These winged miracles are so fun to watch and to listen to as they flit around.











Related Links: 

Cheap Seats: Cushions and Poufs -- Photographs that include examples of cushions and poufs being used for seating on tiny balconies. And a sample of a DIY couch made of cinder block, post, and cushions. You may feel limited by the size of your outdoor space but as some of these photos show; the sky is the limit. You can turn your small outside space into a pretty, useful, and comfortable living area.

FUNK'N Practicality with Reversible Patio Mats -- These mats are too large for my teeny balcony but I'd still love to have one. I have friends that use these mats for outdoor gatherings. They are durable, beautiful, and portable. 

Morning Glory - The Beautiful Privacy Screen -- For the past two or three years, I've grown morning glories on my balcony rail.  But this article shows a floor to ceiling green screen. And an important warning about pets and morning glory seeds.

Tuned Wind Chimes Review -- If you love wind chimes but have never heard of tuned wind chimes, this article is a must-read. The lovely sounds of good wind chimes playing music in the wind is something I enjoy very much.

First Hummingbird of 2015 -- The story of how I finally attracted hummingbirds to my balcony for two years in a row. This was after years of unsuccessful attempts. It's as easy as homemade sugar water and an inexpensive hummingbird feeder.








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Monday, September 28, 2015

Autumn Leaves, Sweet, Sweet Autumn Leaves




The heat of Summer has passed and while the days are still nice and warm, there is one thing that is sure, the leaves will be turning their beautiful colors within the next few weeks.

It's a glorious time of year, that has many people enjoying not only the cooler weather, but also the fantastic shades of orange, red, burgundy and yellows that you can ever find. Seeing these beautiful colors in the trees is breathtaking!   Everyone's children will be busy searching for the most perfect leaf to add to their school projects or artwork.

It's only after a few weeks when the beauty of the leaves has faded and they are everywhere but on the trees, that people start to be annoyed.

With a few great tools, this annoyance will soon be dealt with.  Gathering up those leaves is a task that can be made fun and easy.  You just need the right tools.......


Don't you know  that what has fallen from the trees is pure gold?  Not the kind that you can make jewelry from, but the kind that when it's put back into the garden, will make everything next year grow that much better, stronger and keep your soil in top condition.  And it is FREE!

Let me help you turn your annoyance into happiness by showing you how to make your gardens the happiest ever and get rid of your leaves at the same time.

If you are a gardener, you will be eyeing everyone's big brown bags of leaves, with thoughts of stealing them right off of the front stoop.  If theft is not in your character, I'm sure you could ask for those bags of leaves and the owners will happily give them to you.

Now what do you do with all those leaves?


With one of these tools, you shred the leaves that you have gathered, or the ones you got from your neighbors and turn those leaves into small particles of green matter.

Because they are organic and now shredded into small bits, they will break down a lot faster than if you leave (no pun intended) them just as they fell off the trees.

Dig around all your shrubs and bushes and turn this garden gold into the soil around all those shrubs. replace the soil that you lifted.    Do this in your flower gardens too! If you have a vegetable patch, dig a trench, fill the trench with the shredded leaves and replace the soil.  Dig another trench and fill it with shredded leaves.  Keep doing this until you have used all the garden gold you have produced and see what happens next year!

You won't be disappointed and Mother Nature will applaud you for doing a really good thing for your garden.


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Friday, May 8, 2015

I Love My Garden Kneeler

Don't Wait Like I Did to Get Yourself a Garden Kneeler

My Garden Kneeler, photo © B. Radisavljevic
I love gardening. I like taking a neglected flower bed and bringing it to life with color. That's why I decided to redo the flower beds at the house I inherited from my mother. This Garden Kneeler has made it possible for me to work on this transformation more safely and with less pain than I was able to before I bought it.
Let's face it. If you are going to pull weeds and plant flowers, you will be either bending over or kneeling. Kneeling is more efficient. It never used to be a problem for me, but I'm seventy now. When I kneel, it hurts my knees. 
At Work on My Garden Kneeler, photo © B. Radisavljevic
I'm resting my arm on the kneeler as I work on this bull thistle plant that had babies in my herb garden.

The Step 2 Garden Kneeler, however, has a foam pad that keeps my knees from hard surfaces like the ground and the concrete sidewalk.
Notice the Foam Pad and Handles on My Garden Kneeler, photo © B. Radisavljevic
I was planting and weeding in this bed and wanted you to see the kneeler without me inside it. I need to get that bucket with the caddy.

Another problem one has at my age is getting back up from that kneeling position. The body just doesn't want to move up. It needs some help. The handles on this kneeler are sturdy enough to support me when I start to rise. This makes a lot of difference in how much I enjoy my gardening.
Before I bought the Step 2 Garden Kneeler, I tried two other brands available in a local store. One was a folding kneeler, but it wasn't very sturdy. I have a neck problem that makes falls especially dangerous for me, so I didn't want to take chances on something flimsy just to save a few dollars. Another brand I tried just wasn't roomy enough to get in and out of comfortably.
The Step 2 Garden Kneeler has made me look forward to my work in the garden again. It's light enough to easily move where I need it. Although it had a handy hole in the top that acts as a handle when it's standing up, I normally transport it upside down as the kneeler. It makes cleanup easier, since I can fit a wastebasket for weeds and a small box with gardening utensils on the pad, pick up the kneeler by the handles, and carry it all to the garage. That saves me some extra trips.
Sitting on My Garden Kneeler, photo © B. Radisavljevic
Taking a rest on my overturned kneeler in bench mode in front of the rosemary, black sage, and butterfly bush

One great feature I didn't mention yet is that if you are tired and need to get off your knees and rest for a bit, you can turn the kneeler over and use it as a bench. It was sturdy enough to hold my husband, who weighs close to 260 pounds.
I really love this kneeler. I don't know how I managed without it all these years. It would have made my life more comfortable even when I was younger. After all, no one enjoys having one's knees on a hard surface.
I tried to get along with just a cheap green pad before, but it was of poor quality in comparison to this one, and it wasn't as thick. The pad on this kneeler rests on a thick hard surface that won't let you feel the rocks and thorns you can feel through the stand-alone foam pads. And I still had to get up and down to and from ground level with no help. This product solves all the mobility problems and saves my knees. I highly recommend this Garden Kneeler to anyone who spends much time working on the ground.

OK. I'll Admit it. I'm Showing Off


This is my garden kneeler in bench form so you can see the details without me covering them up. But the real reason I'm displaying it is to show off. It's sitting in front of a flower bed I completely transformed, as I did the other flower beds in the front yard of this home in Paso Robles. This used to be a bunch of nothing with some scattered gazanias, mostly close to the house, between two juniper bushes.
I left the gazanias at the very back, where they continue to spread. I planted one calendula and all the others in this bed are its babies. If you have a good eye, you can see the opal basil next to the pot of catmint in bloom. Behind the catmint is some African Blue Basil in bloom with a tall borage in bloom behind it. I also added some petunias, mums, and pansies for seasonal color. There is a large hyssop behind the carnations that has finished blooming, leaving only its rust-colored spikes. What you can't see are the chocolate cosmos and the monarda which are hidden by the borage.
My garden kneeler has made it possible to do this job faster and in more comfort than I ever could have managed without it. I use it most while pulling the weeds and planting, but at least I can sit and rest when I'm tired without leaving the yard.

Get Your Garden Kneeler Now to Save Your Knees



While You're Already Shopping, Why Not Add These?

The kneeler makes gardening more comfortable, but nothing is more frustrating than having to get up and go back to the shed or garage to get a tool you forgot to bring with you. The bucket caddy, which attaches to a five-gallon bucket (not included) will help you organize all that stuff and you can sit it beside your kneeler within reach. As you can see in one of my photos above, I need one.
Since I write a lot about gardening, I also like to keep my digital camera with me to photograph interesting things I find as I work. I'm sure one of the pockets would accommodate that, and my cell phone would fit in another.
This is on my wish list, since I'm currently just throwing my tools in a small cardboard box and using a small plastic waste basket to throw the weeds in as I work. I would prefer to keep my tools in a more organized fashion. This caddy even has a special place for seed packets, which don't fare very well tossed in the box with my tools.
The garden cart I have is slightly different than the one pictured here. This is the closest I could find to it. Mine is green and does not have telescoping handles as this one does. What they have in common is their shape and their maneuverability. Mine is light and easy to move, even when full of dirt or compost. I can stick packages of fertilizers on top of the dirt I'm moving so they get to the garden with me. The bucket caddy could also ride along on top.
Together, all these items will supplement your kneeler to make your gardening life easier. If you are in need of hand tools for your gardening activities, you might want to look at the Japanese Sickle my friend reviewed elsewhere on this site.




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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Exotic Nejiri Kama

Nejiri Kama, Japanese Sickle

It doesn't look too sharp, but it is one of the sharpest blades for the garden that you will ever need.


I have garden tools that I use and use and use and use.......and this is one of them that is High on my list of must have garden tools. The Nejiri Kama not only sounds exotic, it is exotic. Coming from the master gardeners in Japan, it and my Hori Hori blade are by far the best tools any gardener could ask for.




Right now I'm going to tell you why I love the Nejiri Kama too! This tool is multi purpose to the extreme. You have to be careful with it, because the blade is sharp. This tool makes weeding a breeze, but it can also be used to dig furrows in the garden and uproot young weeds before they become a mangled mess of roots. The blade is not as large as a regular sickle that farmers would have used, but it is just as impressive when it is used to wipe out an area that has become overgrown, or just needs major tidying up.


The blade drawn against the top layer of soil will cut off anything growing that shouldn't be and because the blade is only about 5 inches long, there is no danger of removing a limb. That gives the gardener in question a more focused swath when weeding. Care still needs to be used whenever sharp tools are being handled, and this one is no exception to that rule.


The other part I love about this tool, is that using the tip, you can weed quite nicely around bedded plants without disturbing their root structure. The sickle being fashioned from one piece of metal will not break at the bend and with a little care, can be sharpened as you would any other tool in your arsenal of gardening weapons. The wooden handle is comfortable in your grip, and even with arthritic hands, holding this tool will not cause strain or pain in your joints.


The description here speaks about weeding raised beds, and I agree that it is great for that, but I would also say that you can use it in a regular garden bed too! It will require that you bend a little, but that can be good exercise too! Give this tool a try, and I'm sure that it will soon become one of your favorite tools too!
Another wonderful tool for the garden.

This tool is on my "to buy" list. With the good things that have happened with my other Japanese inspired gardening tools, I'm sure that this one will be a hit as well.
This is my Hori, Hori and I love it!
My absolute favorite tool ever! Might I suggest you splurge and get one for yourself!
You already know that I love this tool. It is so useful when planting, preparing soil mixes, and all other little jobs in the garden.

Spear & Jackson P818 Traditional English Style Stainless Steel Dibber

Spear & Jackson P818 Traditional English Style Stainless Steel Dibber
This old fashioned tool has probably been around for centuries, but it is another favorite of mine.


I love the way this tool is able to do many things, from weeding to aerating the ground around your plants to top dressing your garden.....all with one tool.....


You can read more about Grammie Olivia's Gardening at her website:  www.grammieknowshow.com





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Friday, March 6, 2015

Planting in Spring for Summer Beauty Review

Gardeners are planners!  In order to have beautiful gardens year round, they must plan ahead, often planting months before they can expect to see the rewards for their labor.

In fall, we plant blubs for spring flowering, but in spring we plant for summer and fall flowers.

Many of us keep a journal of what we planted where.  That way we don't accidentally dig up bulbs or perennial plants.  Some blubs and plants are pretty forgiving and will simply bloom together or around each other.  Others would be ruined by accidental invasion, so we plot and plan well in advance and then wait for the glorious presentation of beautiful blooms.


Flowers to Plant in Spring for Summer Blooming  

When we plant our bulbs in the fall, it can seem like an eternity before the flowers bloom, but that is not the case with spring planting and summer flowers.  Here are some examples of flowers we plant now that will reward us before we know it.
  • Cornflower ~ Friend and gardener Beverly Owens recommends Coneflowers which not only have the benefit of beautiful blooms, but also attract butterflies and bees to our gardens.
  • Calla Lily ~ One of my personal favorites is the Calla Lily.   I have always planted a variety of colors, but Paula Atwell introduced me to the Black Star Calla Lily.  I am very excited about adding the Black Star to my blooming collection. 
  • Nasturtiums ~ This is another flower that is available in a variety of colors including a black Nasturtium.  These plants are fabulous for ground cover or as climbing flowers.
  • Alliums ~ Gorgeous spiral blooms that are a unique treat in any garden.  These flowers certainly don't look like your average garden bloom.  On Diary of a Wild Country Garden, Jasmine features Alliums, Freesias and Oriental Lilies.
  • Aster ~ Big and beautiful blooms for in summer and fall.  
  • Butterfly Bush ~ Attract additional beauty to your garden with a butterfly bush.
  • Astilbe ~ A delicate looking perennial that is actually very strong and resilient with gorgeous flowers and fern like foliage.
  • Delphiniums ~ The delphinium is lovely, but there is one concern, it can not tolerate extreme heat and hot temperature regions.  
  • Daylilies ~ If you live in the south, you can plant Daylilies in the spring for summer blooming, but northern region gardeners should wait until fall to plant Daylilies.

Late Summer / Early Fall Flowers

 

What to Do With Mums in Sprint
Depending on your region, some Mums will start to bloom in late summer.   Many regions do not see Mum blooms until fall, but I wanted to include them here simply because they can and should be planted in the spring and you will want to select a place for them while planning your garden.

Planting mums in the spring also gives the plant time to acclimate to your soil and to deep root.   Susan Deppner not only asks the question  What to do With Mums in Spring, but provides answers from experts and fellow gardeners.





Summer Flowers with Side Benefits

 

Seven Easy to Grow Edible Flowers

Sunflowers are not only gorgeous summer blooms that are planted in the spring, but their seeds and tubers are edible.

Likewise,  the beauty of the Nasturtium flowers is noted above, but did you know that Nasturtiums are edible and can be used for flavoring in food?  

Our own contributor, Coletta Teske, not only writes for Review This, but she owns The Grocery Garden.   In her article, 7 Easy Easy to Grow Edible Flowers, Coletta features flowers that are not only beautiful additions to our gardens, but are also edible.  I am sure you will want to read all about these summer flowers that are also sources food and nutrition.


I enjoy working and writing online.  There are so many wonderful articles shared by fellow online writers that encourage, inspire and teach freely.

Do you have an article about Summer Flowers that are planted in the spring that you would like to share?  Please leave the link in our guestbook below so we can visit your Summer Flowers article today.


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Friday, February 27, 2015

Spring Flowers and Plants Reviewed

Snowdrop Flower (Galanthus)
As the snow and ice start to melt, our hearts and minds yearn for spring and the beauty of spring flowers and plants.  Those of us who love to garden can hardly wait to be able to get outside and work in our flower beds.  To clean out the residual winter debris, to plant new flowers, to fertilize, and to just be able to breathe in that fabulous spring air that seems to cleanse our lungs of stale indoor recirculated air with each deep breath.

My mind is planning and my fingers are twitching to get to work as I look out my kitchen window.  My flower pots and beds are summoning me even as I write this article.  I can hardly wait to be greeted by the face of my most beautiful iris and to touch to fragile petals of my tulips.  Oh, truly the daffodils are calling from beneath the ice covered ground.

Can you hear the awakening of spring?  Do you long for the beauty of blooming gardens?  Then lets take a moment to plan, order and prepare for the glorious rebirth of nature just outside our doors.


Flowers to Plant in Spring


Many of our early spring flowers come from bulbs that would have been planted back in the fall.  However, there are a few that we can plant in early spring. 

  • Pansy ~ The flower with a face is such a lovely addition to any garden.  It is perfect for flower beds and container gardening.
  • Hydrangea ~ The hydrangea bush is a pretty big bush with beautiful large blooms that are actually clusters of tiny flowers.  They can be planted in early spring or early fall.  You will find planting instructions, care suggestions, as well as see a selection of hydrangeas at How to Grow Hydrangeas.
  • Azaleas ~ Beauty and charm are the two word that come to mind when I think of Azaleas.  Having grown up in the South, Azaleas are simply part of my everyday world.  To such a degree, they are easy to take for granted.  You can learn all about proper care of Azaleas in this video on Southern Living.


Spring Plants


A spring garden would not be complete without those fabulous plants that often serve as background for our flowering plants.  The greenery in a garden is essential, but there are a few plants that truly stand out all on their own.

Lambs Ear Plant
  • Lamb's Ear ~ Silver Carpet Lambs Ear is one of my personal favorites.  It is appropriately named because it feels like a little lambs ear when we touch it.  It is a very resilient plant that allows even small children to touch and feel.  The beauty of this plant far exceeds it's visual appeal.  My friend, Beverly Owens, published an article on Lambs Ear on her Indiana Garden site.  You can find out more about Lambs Ear by visiting:  Lambs Ears A Nice Perennial For Indiana Gardens.  But do keep in mind, Lambs Ears are not restricted to Indiana.  They flourish in many regions.

 

Spring Floral Arrangements



Part of the beauty of having you own flower garden is being able to step into your own backyard, cut a few flowers and make your own floral assorted arrangement to bring inside.  I typically like to do this when my flowers are fully bloomed, or right before a storm when I know the blooms will be shattered.

I recently discovered an article of inspiration on Accenting Your Easter Bouquet with Dark-Hued Flowers.  Since I love "black" flowers, the ideas and suggestions in this article very much appeal to me.  I normally place a black flower in a single bud vase, but I was intrigued by the author of this article, Paula Atwell and I asked myself "why not include them in a bouquet?!!"


That is one of the things I love most about working online.  There are so many great ideas shared by fellow online writers that encourage, inspire, excite and teach freely.

Do you have an article about Spring Flowers that you would like to share?  Please leave the link in our guestbook below so we can visit your Spring Flowers article today.


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Monday, October 13, 2014

Recommended Reading for Small Space Gardeners

I am so excited that I can barely contain myself.   I have found something that I have to share with you.  I have found a nifty little magazine called Urban Farm: Sustainable City Living.  I am especially happy to have found this issue as the nights grow cold and the leaves begin to change in the mid-Atlantic.  Summer and gardening have begun to draw to a close.

All You Need wooden sign
Some of you are aware that I am a country girl, living in an urban (suburban) setting.  A few of you
are also aware that I try to grow a vegetable garden on my balcony and in my kitchen garden.  I'm not very good at it, but I've done great with tomatoes for two years in a row, and am currently having a great time finding uses for my sweet mint, rosemary, and jalepeno peppers.  

Over the decades, I have purchased many gardening magazines and how-to books.  Mother Earth News has been one of my favorite magazines.  But many times, with those magazines and books, I have had to read the articles and imagine the day that I own my own home again so that I can follow through with the things I've learned.  After all, no matter how much I plan and scheme, I cannot devise a way to raise chickens in my third floor apartment.

Imagine my happiness when I found this magazine that is dedicated to  folks who live in limited space but want a more self-reliant lifestyle.  

I purchased the September/October 2014 issue of the Urban Farm.  Some of the titles include:

  • Framing Out the Cold (small cold frames)
  • Storage Wards (storing your harvest without a root cellar)
  • Behind the Scenes Inside the Hive
  • A Dry Idea (how to dry and preserve tomatoes)
  • Wild Gardens (a foraging garden with wild edibles)
  • Shared Spaces (the urban farm movement)

Photograph by Ken Scicluna
All of the articles have been informative and interesting. I was especially drawn to the small cold frames article.  While I dream of own my own larger greenhouse, such as the one Diana Wenzel shows us how to Do-It-Yourself in her article, I have to deal with my reality.  And my reality is that I have a 9' x 5' balcony and one good but small space at my kitchen window for gardening.  I also live in Maryland.  I have a longer growing season than I had when I lived in northern Indiana, but it's still not as long as I would like.

The article in Urban Farmer shows "farmers" like myself how to use cold frames to make microclimates to extend the growing season.  While I've known about cold frames for years, I always imagine the large hoop style that commercial nurseries use.  There is one photograph in the Urban Farm article that shows a small cold frame insulated in snow with a single light bulb for additional heat and light. The remainder of the article and photographs already have me imagining and planning for my own cold frame on my balcony.  Extending my growing season has just become my new reality.  You can bet good money that I'll be out there before the end of the week, starting some sort of mini-cold frame.

If you are a gardener, no matter the space available to you - acres or inches - I highly recommend that you check  out this nifty little magazine.  Either at the bookstore or at Urban Farm Online.


Written by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.   I am in no way affiliated with Urban Farm magazine nor do I profit from it's sales.  



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