Opuntia Microdasys: The Peter Rabbit of Cacti

The post Opuntia Microdasys: The Peter Rabbit of Cacti is by Rachel Garcia and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

Opuntia microdasys, or bunny ears cactus, is a cute and simple houseplant or ornamental to care for. Learn how here.

The post Opuntia Microdasys: The Peter Rabbit of Cacti is by Rachel Garcia and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

Original source: https://www.epicgardening.com/opuntia-microdasys/

Neomarica: The South America’s Walking Apostle Plant Iris

Very often, the common names of plants are used to express action. For example, there is creeping gloxinia, trailing coleus, Johnny-jump-ups, bouncing Bet, wandering Jew, squirting cucumber, and walking iris – often referred to as the apostle iris or apostle plant. The name “apostle plant” was derived from the number of leaves in a fan, […]

The post Neomarica: The South America’s Walking Apostle Plant Iris appeared first on Plant Care Today.

Original source: https://plantcaretoday.com/neomarica-apostle-plant.html

7 Smart Tricks to Save Money When Watering

If you hold your breath and say a little prayer before opening summer water bills, perhaps it’s time to see if your landscaping can help you lower those costs. Not only is water expensive, but it is a commodity that should be preserved and rationed. There are some fun and easy ways you can save water in your garden that will cut those bills down significantly.

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), 30-70% of the water we use is outside in our gardens. The disparity is due to time of year, so we can assume that nearly 70% is being used in summer. That is a lot of water and the rates go up during that high use period. So, what can we do to conserve water and save some of that outgoing money? Here are 7 smart tricks that can help save you money when watering:

1. Rethink your landscape plants. The way in which we landscape is one part of the puzzle. Using drought tolerant plants can lower costs dramatically. Trees can provide some shade and prevent evaporation of portions of the garden where the understory plants can tolerate lower light.

2. Reconsider your lawn areas. Turf grass is a huge water waster but can be replaced with lawn alternatives like groundcovers or moss. If you want turf grass, use a timed water system to prevent overwatering and set it for cooler periods, like early morning to late evening, when all the water won’t be evaporated as quickly.

3. Forget about sprinkler systems. Another important step to take when managing water use is in how we water. In addition to timers and irrigating during cooler periods, consider watering directly by hand instead. This avoids saturating unnecessary areas such as paths and drought tolerant beds, putting the water exactly where it’s needed.

4. Forgo the lawn watering altogether. The grass doesn’t always have to be greener. In the northern part of North America, many regions can simply let their lawn go dormant. It will get green again in autumn when precipitation occurs naturally. Aerating, setting the mower high and allowing clippings to fall and compost into the thatch will also help lawns thrive without additional moisture.

5. Set soaker hoses and driplines. Since sprinkler systems can lead to more evaporation or saturate other unintended areas and hand watering can be time consuming in larger sites, you may want to opt for using soaker hoses and driplines. These will deliver the most efficient and direct water, straight to the roots, preventing runoff and waste.

6. Water deeply but less often. Many people tend to water far more than is necessary. On average, most plants, including the lawn, can get by with about an inch (2.5 cm.) or so of water each week – and this includes what rain provides. When you do irrigate, it’s better to do so for longer periods, to penetrate deeper into the soil, less often than to continually water every day. This helps plants develop deep root systems so they can find the water they need themselves.

7. Remember that mulch is your friend. Adding at least 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm.) of mulch in the garden can save on water costs. Use mulch between plants to prevent evaporation and conserve soil moisture.

There are many more tips on how to conserve water, such as using rain barrels and graywater, but these are simple suggestions that anyone can follow and won’t take a lot of work. The water bill will be proof your attention was worthwhile.

The post 7 Smart Tricks to Save Money When Watering appeared first on Gardening Know How's Blog.

Original source: https://blog.gardeningknowhow.com/top-of-the-crop/7-tricks-to-save-money-watering/

Carnivorous Bog Plant For Temperate Climates

Carnivorous plants have a definite cachet about them. Animals eat plants, yes. But plants that eat animals? That’s different and exciting, at least for people. To the Drosera family, that’s normal. The Drosera or sundew genus is a group of plants that often grows in poor and boggy soil. To make up for its limited […]

The post Carnivorous Bog Plant For Temperate Climates appeared first on AGreenHand.

Original source: https://agreenhand.com/carnivorous-bog-plant-for-temperate-climates/

Throw a Tomato Tasting Party!

I recently attended the Ocean View Farms tomato tasting celebration 2019 and ate my way through more than 70 varieties of tomatoes to help determine the best of the best. Continue reading Continue reading

The post Throw a Tomato Tasting Party! appeared first on Gardenerd.

Original source: https://gardenerd.com/blog/throw-a-tomato-tasting-party/

Planning & Planting the Autumn Garden

veggie garden

I’ll let you in on a little gardener’s secret: late summer through early autumn is the perfect time for many kinds of garden projects, including incorporating edibles into the landscape. We are so lucky in the Pacific Northwest to be able to grow veggies nearly year-round. There are a wide variety of cool-season veggies for autumn and early spring harvest and now is the best time to plant perennial edibles like berries as well.

Planting starts (baby plants) will allow you to harvest earlier in many cases. For many of the edibles mentioned below, starts are actually preferable. The exceptions are baby carrots, lettuce, parsley, peas, radishes and spinach, which can easily be grown from seed or starts. If sowings fail to germinate in late July or early August because of heat and inconsistent water, try again in late August and September; they may germinate more easily. 

Veggies will need regular watering now and by early fall the mix of warmer soil, mild temperatures and rain create the perfect conditions to help your young plants thrive and become well established before winter arrives. I know, I know… It’s too early to be talking about winter, but it isn’t too early to begin planning and planting your autumn veggie garden.

Let’s get started.

What are cool-season vegetables?

Vegetables are often separated into two groups: cool-season and warm-season. The warm-season veggies are at their peak at the height of summer: think tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and peppers. Cool-season veggies prefer milder weather and can generally be planted in spring and again in late summer/early autumn.

Some cool-season veggies grow fairly quickly and, if you plant them now, you will be able to harvest this year. Lettuce, most greens, radishes and peas should be harvested before the first frost or covered for protection (see row covers and cloches, below) while root vegetables like parsnips and beets as well as kale and spinach can survive a frost and even become sweeter for it.

Here are a few to plant now and harvest this year (be sure to read seed packets for specific variety info):

  • Asian Greens

  • Beets

  • Bitter Greens (Arugula, Endive, Radicchio, Mustard)

  • Baby Carrots

  • Collard Greens

  • Endive

  • Kale

  • Lettuce

  • Peas (look for dwarf & enation-resistant varieties)

  • Radishes

  • Spinach

  • Swiss Chard

There are also several herbs that will continue to grow throughout fall (and some even into winter), as well:

  • Oregano

  • Parsley

  • Rosemary

  • Sage

  • Thyme

Other cool-season edibles overwinter, meaning they stay mostly dormant until early spring. They need to be planted now in order to grow the strong roots that help them survive winter so they can produce in spring.

Here are some edibles to plant now for harvesting next spring and summer:

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels Sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Garlic (September-October)

  • Onions

  • Shallots (September-October)

  • Berries, especially blueberries

Soil considerations

Don’t forget to amend your soil with a high-quality compost, such as E.B. Stone Planting Compost or Gardner & Bloome Harvest Supreme. Now is the time to mulch your soil with several inches of compost (Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Conditioner is great as mulch) to keep summer’s heat in the soil.

When planting for autumn, it’s a good idea to practice crop rotation. Plant something different than what you had in the spot for spring and summer. Your summer vegetables have most likely used up essential nutrients in the soil, so adding a natural vegetable fertilizer (try Dr. Earth or Espoma brand) will give your new plants a much-needed boost. For containers, always use potting soil (again, E.B. Stone and Gardner & Bloome offer excellent options) mixed with fertilizer, added according to package directions.

If you decide not to plant your entire space, consider sowing a cover crop such as crimson clover, vetch, winter peas or favas in the early fall. These legumes are nitrogen fixers and will improve your soil. Sow, let them grow through the winter, then till them into the soil in early (can’t emphasize that enough) spring and voilà – improved soil!

Row covers and cloches

One way of extending the growing season (this also works for early-spring planting) is to use a row cover or cloche to protect your veggies and keep them warm. Row covers are lightweight fabrics that allow air, sun, and water to penetrate, but raise soil temperatures by approximately 5 degrees. They can be loosely laid over starts or newly-sown seeds, the edges secured with u-stakes, rocks or boards. Be sure to allow room for plants to push the fabric up as they grow. Another option is to cover your individual plants or whole garden bed with a cloche. They come in many forms: glass domes, plastic sheeting laid over PVC tubes and secured, or even DIY liter soda bottles. Google ‘DIY cloches’ and get lost in the myriad results. If you do use a hoop cloche with plastic sheeting, vent the sides during the day to allow for air flow.

Ready to start planning and planting? We want to help make your garden project a success, so we encourage you to take advantage of the many ways we can help: ask our experts in person and on social media with #heyswansons. You can also find helpful information on our NW Gardening Tips page.

Remember to comment with questions or to tell us what you’ll be growing for autumn!


A few more resources for the NW edible gardener

  • Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide

  • Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon

  • Territorial Seed Company Catalog (the best 75¢ you will ever spend)

  • Seattle Urban Farm Company’s website and podcast

  • Amy Pennington’s Blog

  • Sunset Magazine’s website


Original source: https://www.swansonsnursery.com/blog/fall-veggie-gardening

Vietnamese Coriander: Another Fantastic Cilantro Substitute

The post Vietnamese Coriander: Another Fantastic Cilantro Substitute is by Erin Matas and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

Vietnamese coriander (Persicaria odorata), known as rau ram in Vietnam, is a fantastic cilantro substitute you should grow in your garden.

The post Vietnamese Coriander: Another Fantastic Cilantro Substitute is by Erin Matas and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

Original source: https://www.epicgardening.com/vietnamese-coriander/

Lophospermum: How To Grow and Care For Mexican Twist

Lophospermum [Lo-fo-sper-mum] plants are an herbaceous scrambler or climber species from the Plantaginaceae family along with: Veronica plant (Speedwell) Angelonia plant Russelia (Firecracker plant) Traditionally these plants were a part of the Scrophulariaceae family and native to Guatemala and Mexico. There is a close relationship between these plants with other genera, especially Rhodochiton and Maurandya, […]

The post Lophospermum: How To Grow and Care For Mexican Twist appeared first on Plant Care Today.

Original source: https://plantcaretoday.com/lophospermum.html

PHOTO GALLERY: The Secret History of Color

If you want to understand society, look at the way it talks about hue, suggests a new tome from art historian Alexandra Loske.   In the shadow of World War II, modern capitalism was beginning to take shape. Manufacturing was booming. Consumerism was on the rise. Modern ideas about worker productivity were starting to take…

Original source: https://www.grandcentralfloral.com/2019/08/photo-gallery-the-secret-history-of-color/

13 Ways Plants Can Boost Your Health and Happiness

Did you know plants can boost your wellbeing? A new book tells us how.   After spending the last year researching and writing my new book, Outsmart Your Smartphone: Conscious Tech Habits for Finding Happiness, Balance, and Connection IRL, I’ve come to appreciate just how hard it is to write a good book. And of…

Original source: https://www.grandcentralfloral.com/2019/08/13-ways-plants-can-boost-your-health-and-happiness/