Growing a Kitchen Windowsill Garden from Kitchen Scraps

In the depths of winter, it is easy to get the gardening itch. An easy and inexpensive way to get your green thumb busy is by starting a windowsill garden from kitchen scraps.

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If you are like most of us, you tend to throw away a lot of vegetable waste. Whether it is the top of a carrot, the eye of a potato or the heart of a head of lettuce, there is potential for a garden there. Most vegetables are easy to re-grow, and many don’t even require dirt to get them started. Plus, you get the satisfaction of doing the ultimate recycling – growing food from food scraps.

Vegetables have an amazing ability to regenerate, and you can grow and re-grow many fresh vegetables – often with as little as a glass of water. You may already know about re-growing carrot tops, but did you know about re-growing celery and onions? Here is a list of vegetables that are easy to re-grow right on your kitchen windowsill.

Lettuce and Cabbage– The next time you prepare

Dioons The hardy Mexican cycads

I have already published a few other articles on cycad genera: Cycas, Encephalartos and Macrozamia. Dioon (pronounced ‘Die-oon’) is not a particularly large or diverse genus of cycads but it is one that I am particularly fond of, as they grow very well in my southern California climate.This is a Mexican genus (with one species also growing in Honduras) consisting of about 11 species, though more are being discovered periodically and some have not been named yet.

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Compared to all the cycads as a group, Dioons are considered small- to medium-sized plants with only a few species attaining an impressive massive size. These are slow-growing species (with a few exceptions), with stiff, flat lancelote to very narrow leaflets arranged closely and neatly along the leaves. Stems are relatively narrow for some cycads, but a few species can attain impressive heights; Dioon spinulosum has been recorded to have grown nearly 50 feet tall. Most species rarely grow over 10 feet tall and those are still very very old plants.

These are primarily dry-climate plants and can tolerate desert-like conditions in the landscape, though still appreciate regular watering

Heavenly Hellebores

Primarily native to Europe, hellebores are easy to care for and should appeal to both new and seasoned gardeners. They thrive in shade to partial shade and prefer a moist, but well-drained soil with sufficient organic matter. In this respect, hellebores are ideal woodland plants. You should not allow more than a few hours of direct morning sun or a sustained dry period.

Some of the common names for hellebores are Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) and Lenten rose (H. orientalis). These names are more useful in describing the approximate bloom time, as the plants are not in the rose family (Rosaceae), but in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). In myImage years of growing them, I have never noted any resemblance whatsoever to rose blooms!

Barry Glick, hellebore hybridizer of Sunshine Farm and Gardens in Renick, WV, recommends a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0 and describes the plants as ‘greedy feeders’. He likes to use timed-release fertilizers at the high end of the prescribed application range. I have gone years without fertilizing them at all however, and mine have done just fine, though my soil may be more fertile than the average.

Propagation may

3 Jobs to Do in the Garden in July

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Summer is here and it’s time to pay attention to some jobs in the garden that are essential to complete in the summer. While the hotter months may not be the busiest in the gardening calendar, it is important to keep up with maintenance tasks so your garden looks its best all through the year – and you have an appealing space to spend time outside when the sun shines. Here’s what you need to pay attention to in July, when the sun is often at its strongest.

  1. Watering Tasks

Most plants will need watering regularly in the summer months and it is important to water the plants and trees correctly in order to make the most of the hydration. For example, try to water around the bottom of the plant instead of the leaves and foliage. You can dig out little pools to surround each plant which will send the water direct to where it is needed. Containers and baskets need to be watered regularly when the weather is hot and you can also add a fertiliser every couple of weeks. Conserve water

Small Garden Design

Finding it difficult to make use of your small garden? Garden Club London provide welcoming, refreshing ideas and havelots of experience designing and transforming small gardens into more spacious areas. You can definitely rely on them to help you out!

Garden Club London published ‘10 Tips of Success’ for small gardens:

  • Less is more – Floor tiles and shapes make interior and exterior feel bigger. Lines also work well in smaller gardens, especially on fencing.
  • Go upstairs – Look out of a window upstairs and check your design ideas. Studying your garden from higher up will help you clearly imagine the layout and put it into perspective properly. Also, plan where your plants should go – cover bad views/ block out neighbours windows.
  • Good housekeeping – Keep a maintenance schedule, the neater the garden – the bigger it will look.
  • Gardens are not just for summer – In the cold winter months keep your garden tidythen as summer creeps around the corner there will be less work to do!
  • Let there be light – Garden Club London’s garden design package includes a lighting plan, if this is in your budget. Their rule is to keep the lighting simple and never go overboard with it.
  • Make it

Garden Plants to Grow This Summer

The frost is officially off the ground for another few months, and it’s time to plan, plow, and seed the garden yet again. Gardens are not only a way to supplement the family grocery bill, but are also a great excuse to spend time outdoors and beautify your living space. Depending on where you live, certain plants might be more realistic to grow than others. If you have the climate, don’t be afraid to try something more exotic than functional.

Natural Insect Repellent

Rather than have that annoying bug zapper in your yard, or dealing with messy and inconvenient lotions and ointments, play the game as the environment intended and repel bugs naturally. There are many ornamental plants that repel bad bugs like mosquitoes and aphids while enticing good ones, like ladybugs and bumblebees. These include marigolds, petunias, and lavender. Chrysanthemums are another favorite, so despised by pests that it’s possible to make a natural (but highly toxic) insecticide from their blossoms. If you’re in the right climate, another option is carnivorous varieties like pitcher plants. However, these flowers don’t differentiate between benevolent insects and unwanted pests.

A Kitchen Garden

Many of the

Gardening key to helping cancer survivors heal emotionally and physically

In an effort to determine the role between gardening and the health of cancer survivors, experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) studied both survivors and gardeners, pairing them together and noting the outcomes. (1)

The study, Harvest for Health, concluded that cancer survivors who became involved in gardening were more inclined to eat the fresh foods that were grown in the garden, while also obtaining more physical activity and developing an improved outlook on life. All of these factors play a role in helping those stricken with cancer heal.

Fresh vegetables are important for cancer survivor self-care

Among the top suggestions for cancer survivor self-care, according to the Mayo Clinic, is exercise. (2) The Clinic explains that physical activity reduces anxiety and fatigue, which is common in such individuals, while also improves endurance and self-esteem. Furthermore, the Clinic advises eating a balanced diet that contains “five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.”

The National Cancer Institute suggests that cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, contain compounds known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (3)

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D., the associate director for

How to grow your favourite flowering houseplants

There was a time when houses large and small belonging to garden fanciers sported a succession of home-grown indoor plants all year round. From the smallest succulent to the mightiest tree fern, an older generation of gardeners always made time and space for plants that did well in the house. This is much less likely to be the case nowadays. The sad truth is that many of us appear to have dismissed the idea that it is possible to grow plants for the house easily and well. As with alpines, there seems to be a belief that specimen houseplants are old hat and difficult to grow. I also think that gardeners have lost their skills – and with it their nerve: we worry that we are more likely to kill a cymbidium orchid, say, than be able to guide it through successive years of abundant flowering.

Gardening habits and trends have changed over the decades: since evergreens such as ficus, monstera and dieffenbachia rampaged through the homes and offices of the Seventies and Eighties, old-fashioned flowering houseplants have been left reeling. The low maintenance aspect of

Create a Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on Earth. By planting a butterfly garden with all of the right kinds of plants and flowers that butterflies love to feed on and lay eggs on, you will certainly have a yard full of butterflies throughout the growing season. Butterfly gardens can be any size – a window box, part of your landscaped yard, or even a wild untended area on your property.

Creating a butterfly garden should start with some serious research to learn which kinds of butterflies are native to your area. You can learn that from our article “Butterfly Gardening by Area”. Make a list of all of the different kinds of butterflies you would like to attract, and then learn which flowers and plants they both feed on and lay eggs on. All of the plants will certainly be native to your area and therefore easy to grow with the right conditions and care. Adult butterflies will visit for a longer period if they find plants to lay their eggs on. These are called ‘Host Plants’ and you can read about them in our article on “Butterfly Host Plants.”

Once

Resolutions for Gardeners

A new year typically brings about resolutions right? Be they for losing weight, being more organized or simply an overall “being better” wish, resolutions are good goals to have.

Gardeners are no exception to wishing for the better; better gardens, better planning, better record-keeping, etc. Following are five resolutions that we wish every gardener, no matter their level of expertise, will embrace in the new year:

1. I will not blame myself for gardening failures. Oftentimes, Mother Nature is not our friend when it comes to gardening. Or life gets in the way. We do not want you to despair! Simply try again and learn from experience. Your garden, and your gardening friends, are both extremely forgiving.

2. I will not be afraid to ask questions. How else can you learn? Take advantage of the experience of your neighbor, your aunt, the garden center employee or the local extension agent. If they are like typical garden fanatics, they will appreciate your interest and be flattered that you want to learn from them. And learn you will!

3. I will try something new. This is kind of a no-brainer, right? Have you ever met

Book Review Great Gardens, Solutions for Small Spaces, by Garden Gate Magazine

When my daughter asked for help to decide what to put in the skinny strip between the garage and the sidewalk to her front door, I was at a loss. Never before had I planned a garden that would be less than 12 inches deep, but close to 20 feet wide. Garden Gate Magazine’s new book, GREAT GARDENS, SOLUTIONS FOR SMALL SPACES was exactly the help I needed, and if you have a small yard or a corner or need help with curb appeal, it may help you, too. A review follows:

The 98 pages of Great Gardens, Solutions for Small Spaces are divided into sections for typical small problem areas you might have in your garden: Foundations, Island Beds, Corners, Narrow Spaces and Patio & Decks. I particularly liked that built into these chapters are design lessons on Scale, Focal Points, Repetition, Going Vertical and Containers. I believe that the design of a tight gardening spot is even more important than in a larger garden, and the lessons are given in a very understandable way, something that even I can do without needing professional help.

“No Space is Too

Feeding the soil An introduction to the no-till gardening method

No-till gardening is a natural method of gardening that rejects mechanical means of horticulture, such as compacting, plowing, eroding and degrading the earth using tools and machines, in favor of less aggressive means that encourage soil fertility. Advocates of the no-till method believe that tilling is bad for land in the long-term because it breaks the soil’s structure, ultimately leading to soil erosion. It also destroys fungi, earthworms, organic material, and bacteria, which all play an important role in natural and healthy soil ecology.

Origins

The origins of no-till gardening are sometimes ascribed to the Australian conservationist, Esther Deans, who fashioned a method of gardening which involved placing newspaper or cardboard over a patch of grass or weeds. When mulch (rotting organic matter, such as vegetable peelings) was placed atop the layer, natural soil-making conditions were produced. However, the Japanese microbiologist Masanobu Fukuoka has also been labeled the ‘parent’ of no-till gardening, since his book, The One-Straw Revolution, advocated a method of soil building that was divorced from machines and chemicals. In the United States, gardener Ruth Stout is often considered the originator of no-till gardening. She advocated a method of gardening that involved layers of

Helpful tips for keeping pests out of your organic garden

One of the biggest challenges that organic gardeners have long faced is invasive pests, which as you may well know tend to target food crops that have not been treated with toxic pesticides. But maintaining a truly organic garden is not an impossible task, especially if you are willing to take the time to employ some tried and true methods of deterring pests without chemicals.

One of the most obvious, but often overlooked, ways of protecting your food crops from pests involves 1) covering them with a protective layer of fabric. Organic Gardening magazine recommends using floating row covers that are propped up over crops to prevent birds, squirrels, aphids, caterpillars, moths, beetles, worms, and other invasive species from damaging plants and stealing their fruit.

“This translucent, white, porous polyester fabric acts as an insect barrier, while letting in up to 80 percent of the available light,” explains Organic Gardening. “The material is sold by the yard, generally in rolls 4 to 8 feet wide. You cut it to the length you need, then drape it over metal hoops, attach it to wooden supporting frames, wrap it around wire tomato cages, or simply lay it directly on your crops like

Research Gardening fights depression naturally

It makes sense that cultivating a garden of any type can help one’s state of mind, even preventing or resolving issues of depression. Focusing on nourishing plant life takes one’s attention to nature and away from negative “stinkin’ thinkin'” that fosters depression.

The energy field of natural settings also helps calm the mind. Ayurveda practitioners recommend walks in nature, not malls, to balance and harmonize one’s energies. Then there’s the sunshine received while gardening to promote more vitamin D3, which also reduces depression risks (http://www.naturalnews.com).

Finally, there are the fruits of gardening food, the food itself. Most food gardening is done without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. So it’s organic despite not having the label!

It’s also very fresh and full of life. Agri-business products tend to lose nutrients while sitting around in warehouses and stores or in transit with long distance shipping.

Increasing food prices, increasing GMO infiltration, and increasing centralization of food sources that make the food supply more vulnerable to drought and other natural or man-made calamities can lead to losing confidence of how to eat in the near future.

A recently released movie, “Side Effects”, floats a definition of depression as losing confidence for the future. So if

Enjoy an Underwater garden, Right in Your Own Livingroom

Can you imagine it? A tropical paradise, lush leaves swaying gently in the breeze…er…current. That’s right, a whole world of plants that are very happy living their entire lives under water. Not just green plants either, but a whole plethora of colours and textures. Reds, golds, purples. Short, tall, feathery, fat leaved varieties.

The first thing you will need, of course, is an aquarium. They come in many sizes. 5, 10, 35, 72, 150

gallon. Probably a few in between. You could probably use a goldfish/beta bowl if you want to start small. Very important if you have found a used aquarium, fill it full of water in the bathtub or outside and make sure it does not leak!!

Next you are going to need some gravel. Decorative aquarium gravel is relatively inexpensive and comes in many colours. You will need at least 3 inches. This will be your soil, the growing medium to anchor the plant.

Your plants will need some water circulation. Circulation helps get the nutrients to the plants and good water movement stimulates healthy growth.This can be acomplished by a good old fashioned filter. Hopefully, when you acquired your used

Miscellaneous Dogwoods for the Garden

There have been several articles on Dave’s Garden dealing with dogwoods or the genus Cornus. A history of the dogwoods was presented by Melody Rose (melody) in her article, ‘Not for the Dogs: The History and Culture of the Dogwood’. The red-osier or red-twig dogwoods were covered in two articles, ‘Red-twig Dogwoods – A Shrub for All Seasons’, which I wrote; and ‘Adding Some Year-round Interest in the Garden with Red Twig Dogwood’ by Darius Van d’Rhys. Last week I introduced you to the various flowering-dogwoods in my article ‘The Spectacular Flowering-Dogwoods’. There is no doubt that the genus Cornus is an important group of plants for gardeners in temperate regions. To complete the picture on the genus, I thought I would describe some of the other garden-worthy dogwoods that exist. Just as a reminder, most of the dogwoods prefer dappled shade or morning sun with shade from the hottest part of the day. The soil should be moist, organic-rich and on the acidic side. None are suitable for dry conditions.

One of the few edible woody dogwoods is the Cornelian cherry, C. mas. This European species forms a large shrub or small tree to 5 m.

GARDEN HOUSEKEEPING

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Most gardeners, myself included, would much rather be outside working in the garden than inside doing housework. Gardening also requires some housekeeping, but plant lovers generally don’t mind being outside fussing with their plants.

Garden housekeeping is done for two reasons. Keeping the garden neat and clean is done to maintain the aesthetics of the garden, and also to maintain the health of the plants in the garden.

Keeping the garden free of weeds is a simple step that will improve both the beauty and health of any garden. After all, it’s difficult to enjoy your beautiful flowers if they are hidden amongst weeds. Weeds also attract and harbor plant diseases and insect pests, both which will happily spread to your garden plants. Not only that, weeds will also compete with your desirable plants, using more than their fair share of water and nutrients.

The

Can guerrilla gardening save the world One green renegade is on a mission to do just that – a single edible plot at a time

“If kids grow kale, they eat kale,” Ron Finley, a famed guerrilla gardener, asserts during his 2013 TED talk. He also believes that food gardening is a revolutionary move with the ability to change the world. In an act of rebellion against the food desert of South Central Los Angeles, he began converting a small strip of city land into a free organic vegetable patch. To most, this may seem like the simplest of feats, yet the outcome brought a community together, roused children to make positive choices and launched a new movement of renegade gardening that transforms neighborhoods and lives.

Speaking out

Ron Finley wants to make gardening sexy. He is convinced it can rebuild neighborhoods into spaces where healthy food and inspiration are cultivated instead of obesity and ill health, crime and gangs. Considering the city of Los Angeles owns 26 square miles of vacant lots (equal to 20 Central Park’s and enough space to grow 725 million tomato plants), there is plenty of opportunity for Finley’s vision. But it doesn’t come easily where the city is concerned. With the first patch of guerrilla gardening, a single complaint set in motion a bureaucratic process

Growing Miniature Roses Indoors

If you live in an apartment but you pine for old-fashioned roses, never fear: you can grow mini roses indoors. These diminutive plants range from six to 12 inches and sport fully-formed tea-rose style flowers. With a little TLC and some know-how, you can grow mini roses indoors.About Miniature Roses

Miniature roses have graced the gardens of Europe since sometime in the 18th century. The exact date of discovery or hybridization of these treasures isn’t known, but sometime in the 18th and 19th centuries, miniature rose types entered into books on roses. Today, there are dozens of varieties to choose from.

Colors for miniature roses range from pure white to deep red, with many shades in between. The buds are perfectly formed miniatures resembling hybrid teas, but the plants themselves are most likely descended from floribunda roses.

Miniature roses aren’t true house plants. They should be grown outdoors if at all possible. If you do choose to grow them indoors, they require supplemental plant lights for full-spectrum light that mimics sunshine. You’ll need to carefully create the growing conditions they crave.

How to Grow Mini Roses Indoors

Like their full-sized counterparts, miniature roses

Let’s Plant Potatoes in the Garden

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Potatoes, taters, spuds…call them what you will, potatoes are a staple in the diet of many people all over the planet. Potatoes are a nutritious, versatile vegetable, and they’re incredibly easy to grow. But before you run out to the garden with your shovel and hoe, there are a few things you should know about planting potatoes.

You may have heard old timers say that potatoes should always be planted on Good Friday. This old wives’ tale is absolutely absurd. Good Friday does not fall on the same calendar date each year and can fall anywhere from early March to mid April. If folks in New England or the upper Midwest tried to plant potatoes on Good Friday, many years they’d be digging through rock-hard soil that was still frozen solid.

Do not plant potatoes too early, while the ground is still icy. If the ground is too

Gardening key to helping cancer survivors heal emotionally and physically

In an effort to determine the role between gardening and the health of cancer survivors, experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) studied both survivors and gardeners, pairing them together and noting the outcomes. (1)

The study, Harvest for Health, concluded that cancer survivors who became involved in gardening were more inclined to eat the fresh foods that were grown in the garden, while also obtaining more physical activity and developing an improved outlook on life. All of these factors play a role in helping those stricken with cancer heal.

Fresh vegetables are important for cancer survivor self-care

Among the top suggestions for cancer survivor self-care, according to the Mayo Clinic, is exercise. (2) The Clinic explains that physical activity reduces anxiety and fatigue, which is common in such individuals, while also improves endurance and self-esteem. Furthermore, the Clinic advises eating a balanced diet that contains “five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.”

The National Cancer Institute suggests that cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, contain compounds known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (3)

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D., the associate director for cancer prevention and control in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, explains

Spring Ephemerals, or A Walk in the Woods

Ephermera, from the Greek for “things lasting only a day” as in the May Fly of the order Ephemeroptera. In the plant kingdom, ephemerals are a bit longer lived, but once their flowers have set seed, they too may disappear in a day. The fleeting days of late April and May bring them forth on the hills and in the wooded valleys, but seek them early, for when June warms up to summer, all trace will be but a memory

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 4, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

Years ago, when our daughters were little, we helped friends with maple sugaring. It began in February, usually in a cold slushy downpour, and often ended in early April on a warm, sunny day full of newly awakened bugs. The couple we worked for are honest, straight forward folks, not those you would think of as terribly romantic. But every spring, as the weather warmed and the sugaring season wore down, the boss would bring his wife