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tips for growing roses

On 20, Apr 2015 | No Comments | In advice, plants, roses | By All Year Garden

I learned the most important facts about roses from my grandfather and they go like this:

Roses are not fussy plants, if they have full sun exposure they will put up with conditions that few perennials can withstand: drought, heavy soils, extreme temperatures on both sides of the spectrum and even salty water. Read more…

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fruit compote

On 16, Feb 2015 | No Comments | In advice, preserves | By All Year Garden

I don’t know how many people grew up with fruit compote as a staple of their diet. My grandparents made it throughout the summer to preserve fruit for the winter months. My grandmother’s apricot compote was so good I still dream about it on occasion. Read more…

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the home farming project

A while back I mentioned that a very small patch of dirt with good soil, sufficient water and at least eight hours of sunlight a day can produce a surprisingly large yield. Last year I didn’t measure the quantity of veggies, so this year I decided to start a little project. Read more…

how to grow plants from seed

On 12, Apr 2012 | One Comment | In advice, propagation | By All Year Garden

Aren’t they supposed to do this on their own? Yes, they are, but you get much better quality plants and a whole lot more of them if you follow these tips.

Start at the end of February, beginning of March. Get a few seed starting kits: they are arrays of little growing pods (36, 72 or 144) with transparent lids. Read more…

spring cleaning your perennial garden

Spring cleaning shows off your garden at its best, allowing all the fresh shoots plenty of air and sunlight to develop with amazing speed. Of course if you have a perennial garden Read more…

happy valentine’s day

The hellebores are spoiling me as always by blooming unbelievably early. This year they set a record and bloomed in January. Read more…

turkish eggplant salad

On 12, Aug 2011 | No Comments | In preserves | By All Year Garden

The eggplants finally started producing and they are growing fast. On the northeastern Mediterranean shores August is the month when eggplants are prominently featured on the family table. Read more…

what feeds your garden

Garden bloggers are always eager to share pictures of beautiful flowers and bountiful fruit, but not so much of the foundation that makes them possible.

This is a picture of six week old compost made possible by an overabundance of weeds and a lot of rain. It turned into rich, beautiful, smell free organic matter that will feed the plants and improve the soil naturally and long term.

The gardener’s best friends, the earth worms, showed up diligently and in large numbers, which makes me happy in the knowledge that the compost is healthy and top quality.

This is not the usual way to make compost, I know, but the fact that it doesn’t contain kitchen scraps and paper makes it possible to create an acceptable and non-offensive compost pile in an inconspicuous corner of your yard and still get all the benefits of replenishing the soil organically.

I am looking forward to feeding the garden with this. One doesn’t usually get enthusiastic about fresh soil, but I’m sure my gardening friends will understand.

cup of joe for your plants?

Do you want a great organic fertilizer that will boost your vegetable production and encourage profuse blooming for your roses? Sprinkle used coffee grounds on your flower beds. Coffee grounds are an abundant source of nitrogen and are perfect for heavy feeders that don’t mind a slightly acidic soil (among those you can count pretty much all vegetables, roses, rhododendrons, azaleas, etc.) Some organic tomato growers swear by this fertilizer for its capacity to boost production and eliminate late blight.

If you can get a large quantity of coffee grounds they make a spectacular soft chocolate brown mulch. Hostas and lilies will particularly benefit from coffee for slug and snail protection. Coffee is such an effective fertilizer than 1″ of coffee mulch equals 1 foot of coarse straw. You can also work the grounds into the potting soil for thriving container plantings.

Be careful, it is an equal opportunity feeder, so your plants will benefit but the weeds will too. Plants also like brewed coffee at room temperature, don’t forget to treat your house plants to a cup of Joe every now and then.

Coffee grounds and tea bags decompose very quickly in your compost pile and improve its nitrogen content.

On a completely unrelated note, the plant in the picture is a Roseraie de l’Hay rugosa rose that I bought from Pickering Nurseries and planted this spring.

20 things not to do when growing a garden

On 23, May 2011 | 3 Comments | In advice | By All Year Garden

Growing a thriving garden is as much a result of the things you do as it is of the things you don’t do. Here is a list of what NOT to do in order to have a thriving garden. These are all things I learned from personal experience, and they set me back a few years:

1. Planting roses in the shade.

2. Hard pruning roses that should not be pruned.

3. Forgetting that the dirt will be impoverished if the nutrients are not replenished with natural fertilizers. Feed, rotate crops or both.

4. Digging holes too small for the root ball of the plant. It is an easy mistake to make if you have to dig through rock hard clay in shallow flower beds. Make the extra effort, you will see a tremendous difference.

5. Not preparing the soil before planting seeds. Till, mince, feed, weed, water.

6. Not watering the soil enough for the seeds to germinate.

7. Putting off weeding will give you seven times more work than you should normally have.

8. Planting plants in the wrong places.

9. Not abiding by tried and true gardening methods (tomatoes need staking, grapevine needs pruning, etc.)

10. Not watering enough during droughts. (if the plants look wilted, watering twice a day is not excessive).

11. Giving up on planting the right plant in the right location because of initial failure.

12. Confusing the different types of shade (dappled shade is different from dry shade and from north foundation shade).

13. Not dividing perennials on time.

14. If you really want to grow edibles do not assume that the rabbits and squirrels will leave them alone for your sake, protect them.

15. Planting invasive perennials.

16. Being afraid that moving a suffering plant will hurt it further. Trust me, if a plant is not doing well where it is, move it. The benefits are visible within days!

17. Ignoring deadheading. Many plants, like basil and calendula will die after they went to seed. If you would like to have them for the whole season, don’t let them go to seed.

18. Not labeling newly started seedlings. I can’t tell you how many perennials I pulled out with the weeds when they were too small to recognize. Knowing exactly what they are supposed to look like before they bloom doesn’t hurt either.

19. Over fertilizing.

20. Buying, buying, buying. It takes a little patience to wait on seedlings that you started yourself or divided plants or cuttings to mature, but the benefits multiply ten times over because this is the gift that keeps on giving. In addition to that, plants that thrive in an area of your garden have a better chance to thrive in another area of your garden (same soil, similar conditions). Buy for diversity and interest, don’t buy as a quick fix for barren areas. Plan what you want to plant in advance, don’t buy on impulse. Don’t buy plants with lots of blooms, you want them to bloom in your garden, not the garden center. This one is hard to resist, I know, I just thought I’d mention it.