Excerpted from their newest All-Region Guide, 100 Garden Tips and Timesavers, available at www.bbg.org.
One of the nicest ways to enhance a room is with a vaseful of cut flowers. Here are ways to keep them going for as long as possible:
Here are some ideas for keeping houseplants moist for a week or longer.
With a few supplies and a sunny windowsill, it's easy to start annuals or vegetables from seed, and seeds cost less and offer you many more choices than buying nursery-propagated stock. Redeploy pressed-paper egg cartons as seed-starting trays. Their little cups are just the right size for tiny seedlings, and since the pressed paper will soon break down in the soil, you can transplant the seedlings, cup and all, without disturbing delicate root systems.
To keep annuals blooming prolifically, remove their flowers immediately after they have peaked. Known as deadheading, this practice stops the flowers from forming seeds, spurring the plant to form more flower buds to take their place.
Growing drought-tolerant plants in your garden increases your chances of a vibrant display even during dry periods. It also conserves freshwater supplies and saves on the water bill. How to do it? Think desert: Many cacti, succulents, and yuccas naturally adapted to arid conditions will also grow-and even survive winter-in temperate zones, including prickly pears, hens and chicks, sedums, and Adam's needle.
Make your own insecticidal soap by adding two tablespoons of a vegetable-oil-based liquid soap such as castile soap to a gallon of water. Don't use laundry detergent or liquid dish soap, which may contain dyes and chemicals harmful to your plants. To maximize the effectiveness of insecticidal soap outdoors, spray early in the morning when the plants are still dew covered, late in the afternoon, or after sunset. Avoid spraying at midday in the hot sun-the soap will dry before it can work. Whether you are using the spray outdoors or indoors, be sure to douse both sides of the leaves.
Combining shades and tones of the same color or using a related group of colors is a fun way to create an exciting yet harmonious garden design. Create a blazing-hot effect by bringing together fiery reds, blinding yellows, and tropical oranges-coleus, crotons, and cannas are colorful plants for a hot palette. The flip side of the hot monochromatic border is the cool-toned garden-think plinks, blues, and purples, which are subtler and have a calming effect. Many plants that have hot-colored cultivars also come in varieties with cool-colored flowers, such as zinnias, impatiens, pinks, geraniums, and the stars of the fall garden, chrysanthemums.
What could be better than to step outside your back door and gather your dinner fresh from a handy pot or hanging basket? An ever-growing variety of miniature vegetables suited for growing in containers makes it easy. First select a site that gets six to eight hours of full sunlight daily. To preserve moisture, pot plants in fiberglass or plastic containers instead of terra-cotta or wooden ones. Plant mini-veggies in squat pots that are wider than high to help keep them from blowing over in summer storms. Look for some of the new miniature cultivars just right container culture:
Gardeners can waste a lot of time looking for misplaced hand tools-trowels, pruners, weeders, and the like. A handy place to stash them is a watertight, metal rural-style mailbox somewhere in the garden. Use it to store small tools, wire, seed packets, spare eyeglasses, gloves, and of course, a hat. No more running back to the house or garage to fetch a trowel or some string-it's all right there in the garden mailbox.
If you garden in the vicinity of deciduous trees, you can create your own supply of nutritious leaf mold-great for mulching around acid lovers like blueberries and azaleas or blending with sand, coconut fiber, and a little lime to make potting mix. First, rake the leaves into piles. Good tools for picking up piled leaves are two garbage-can lids. Holding one in each hand, spread your arms apart over the leaf pile, bury the lids in the pile vertically, then bring them together and lift the load of leaves into a cart. To speed up the process, use a leaf shredder or lawn mower to chop up the leaves, and keep them moist to help them break down.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden announces the release of the newest All-Region Guide, 100 Garden Tips and Timesavers. BBG has compiled 100 fully illustrated tips to help minimize maintenance, maximize enjoyment, save time and money, and conserve water and other resources. Garden Tips and Timesavers (ISBN 1-889538-69-8) is available at a discount direct from Brooklyn Botanic Garden's online store at www.bbg.org, or by calling 718-623-7286.Back to Activities
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