Friday, October 18, 2013

Designing Gardens for a Better Future

What I do is hard for most people to understand. The idea of growing food at home seems to have a hard time getting beyond the idea of the back yard raised planter. Much of that problem is caused by the concept that food production must be something that is hidden in the back yard, or put where the neighbors are not going to see it.

Many Americans have gone even further and decided that growing food is the job of professionals far away and that anyone trying to do it themselves is a menace and should be stopped. This is not far fetched if you look at city ordinances and HOA bylaws.

Since I am taking a step or five in the opposite direction of those trying to prohibit gardens, and since that still puts me a few steps away from the average gardener, I can see why there is a gap in understanding. To help clear up this gap here are some of the ideas I work with:

  • Food and support of food should be the primary goal of the yard and home landscape.
  • Plants do better with different types associated together.
  • Planting different food crops in layers prevents waste of energy and plant nutrients.
  • Food plants are beautiful.
  • Perennial flowers are good for the food garden.
  • The right balance of animals in the garden are better than trying to kill all the insects and critters.
  • Perennial flowers are good for balancing the critters and insects.
  • Fertilizer creation should be done at home whenever possible. 

To achieve these goals, thinking and design have to be stretched further than most people have the experience to do themselves. So, I try to do it for them.

Now that you have my ideas, what do you think your landscape should provide you?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tips for Winter Flower Planters

Bright colors in groups show up best!

The hardest part of annual flowers in the winter is the pots and planters. While flower beds in the snowiest parts of the US are covered, planters stick up and often loose their protective snow cover while they are getting the worst of the cold.

Kale is a great centerpiece for a planter.
Redbor, Winterbor, and Red Russian are
some of the best varieties for winter hardiness.

But you don't need to give up hope of nice planters in the cooler months. You just need to plan ahead and give them a little care. Here are a few tips:

  • Pansies and violas are your best bet for surviving cold weather.
  • Plant bright colors like yellow and orange for the best visibility. Blotches or faces are great for close ups, but they will reduce distance visibility.
  • Plant brighty colored plants in clusters of three or more to give them more pop.
  • If you live in a USDA zone 7 or higher you might be able to to find some taller annuals to give your bed some hight, if not, look for trailing violas to hang over the sides.
  • You will not get color while it is frozen outside, but when it warms up the flowers will start blooming again.
  • Water during dry spells. Water with cool water only and do not saturate the soil.
  • Planting in the fall gives a chance for roots to develop.
  • Be careful when you fertilize. Lots of fertilizer will make the plants grow quickly and show lots of color, but it will also invite aphids and disease to destroy your plants.

Faces and blotches are great 
planters that are viewed close 

Look at the three photos of
pansies. Which ones catch
your attention the quickest?

Feel free to ask questions, I will always do my best to answer them.