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Category Archives: Garden

Beware of Evil Plants

What I mean when I say, “A few Plants are Evil” is that not all plants have what I would call a decent reason. A few plants murder, harm, attack, inebriate, make torment, are risky to human or pets, or are hostile somehow. Fiendish plants are wherever on the planet and some are notable and others are well-concealed mysteries. I would like to address some of these plants to help us better comprehend the employments of these plants for good or terrible and to help you secure your youngsters, your pets, and yourself.

All through history plants have been utilized as murder weapons, a few plants have begun wars, incurred torment, they can detonate, they can smell severely, or wreck. There are a large number of plants that are harmful, difficult, intrusive, or inebriating. My motivation with this article is to help the home plant specialist and their families remain sheltered as they garden and play in the inside and outside. Plants harm more than 68,000 individuals yearly, so we do should be careful and instruct our kids not eat any plant material. It is highly unlikely I can incorporate all plants that cause issues, yet I will endeavor to list the most tricky.

We’ll first look at plants that are the most popular and are typically grown indoors. These plants should be kept away from children and pets. This small list contains the name of the plant and what part is dangerous.

Amaryllis – Bulbs
Dieffenbachia – Leaves and Sap
Easter Lily – Leaves and Bulbs
Ficus Tree – Sap
Peace Lily – Sap
Philodendron – Leaves and Sap
Poinsettia – Sap (Mildly irritating to the skin)
Schefflera – Leaves and Sap

A good rule of thumb is milky sap of any plant should be treated with respect. It may cause skin irritation. If you are a cat lover remember that all parts of a lily are dangerous to a cat. It can cause kidney failure and death within 24 – 48 hours, if ingested.

There are many outdoor plants to be mindful of and they include the following with the name of the plant and the part of the plant that is dangerous. Please remember this is not a complete list, rather this is a list of common vegetation to be mindful of their toxicity levels. All of the plants listed below are harmful in some way.

Azalea/Rhododendron – Leaves, Flower Nectar
Bleeding Heart – Leaves and Tubers
Castor Bean – All Parts
Chrysanthemum/Mums – Flower Heads
Columbine – Berries
Daffodil – Bulbs
Dogwood – Fruits
Elephant Ears – All parts
Four ‘clock – Roots and seeds
Foxglove – Flowers/Leaves/Seeds
Hemlock – All parts
Holly – Berries
Hyacinth – Bulbs
Hydrangea -Flowers
Ivy (most) – Leaves
Lantana – All parts
Lupines – Seeds and Leaves
Lily of the Valley – All Parts
Oleander – All Parts
Poison Oak, Ivy, and Sumac – Oil
Wisteria – All Parts

Remember plants poison on contact, ingestion, or by absorption or inhalation. Be cautious if you are not sure. There are many look-alikes so be sure you know what plant you are growing or being exposed to.

About Wildlife Ponds

These simple to make water elements can add brilliant assorted qualities to your yard while giving unlimited hours of stimulation and instructive open doors for you and your family. I have gotten some data from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) that I might want to impart to you.

Frequently a “welcome sight” to lizards and frogs that may have lost their normal vernal pools to improvement, patio lakes can overflow with life not long after they are made. Spring will welcome you with lizards, singing frogs and amphibians, and egg masses seeming overnight. Reptiles, for example, turtles may likewise exploit this new expansion to your terrace. In the event that you give a shallow territory, feathered creatures and butterflies will get a kick out of day by day washing and mud puddling schedules.

Voracious “mosquito-eaters,” dragonflies and damselflies, will also set up home in your pond and work to keep nature in balance. Balanced backyard ponds rarely attract unusual numbers of mosquitoes as often believed. A variety of flora and fauna will work together to maintain your pond as a healthy ecosystem.

Beachfront property is where it’s at! If possible, use a flexible liner and design a beach into your pond edge. This shallow graduation allows easy access for critters to get in, and out, and gives birds and butterflies a place to dip into shallow water. Many wildlife drownings occur in backyard ponds because they inadvertently fall in and cannot escape. Chipmunks, shrews, and box turtles are common victims. Some animals such as frogs, toads and salamanders visit the ponds in spring to breed and lay eggs, but need to have a way of getting out of the ponds to return to their terrestrial habitats for the remainder of the year.

Full sun or part shade? You will find that different critters will inhabit your pond depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. It is most desirable to locate it where it will receive some direct sun, but not full sun.

The depth of your pond and the area you live in will determine the degree to which it freezes. If your pond freezes entirely to the bottom, plants and wildlife may not survive. If your pond is shallow you may need additional heating in the winter. If small children play near your pond, you may want to add a fence for safety purposes. Check your local laws to see if a fence is required and what maximum depth is allowed.

The healthiest pond will most closely resemble a natural pond, with plenty of native plants, some debris settling on the bottom, and perhaps a log or branch floating on the surface. A pond with these ingredients should soon balance itself, and algal growth will be seasonal and minimal.

For a wildlife pond, fish and snails are not necessary, and in fact can be disruptive to the natural balance of your pond. Most fish are very predacious, and can quickly multiply and dominate in the pond environment without the check of natural predators. Snails will generally eat your plants and algae. Essentially, fish and snails may turn your wildlife pond into a large outdoor fish tank that could require additional maintenance to keep clean.

Pumps, waterfalls, and fountains can add the wonderful elements of sound and flowing water. Birds are actually attracted to moving water, and provided they have a place to land, they will be frequent visitors. Moving water is not essential to the health of the pond, but will add additional oxygen.

If you fill your pond with water that is being treated with chlorine, you should consider using a product to remove the chlorine. You can jump-start your pond life by adding a bucket of water from a nearby natural pond. One bucket is all it takes to introduce the millions of microbes that help keep the systems in check!

There is a vast assortment of additional information available on ponds of all kinds on the web, through your local water gardening stores and the public library.

Chemical Weed Killers Effects

A couple days back I got a call from somebody needed to think about a weed executioner that he had perused about in daily paper.

Before I disclose to you the name I need to reveal to you that my saying the compound, or the web internet searcher that I used to research it are just the assessments of this old soil digger and don’t speak to any official Penn State University proposal or judgment of anything. Despite the fact that you will see that Penn State is one of the principal logical bodies that had event to discover the issue.

The guest said that the synthetic was called clopyralid. I revealed to him that I wasn’t acquainted with it, however would find it and see what I could discover for him. He said that he would mail me a duplicate of the article. After supper I turned on the Internet and went to “ “. I wrote in clopyralid. Seemed as though I would not need to sit tight for the snail mail entry of the article, on the grounds that in under 5 seconds I had connections to 4700 articles that were on the web. I began to peruse the articles. One of the first was from Penn State. It appears that they began a manure program and at initially utilized their subsequent chestnut gold just in the fancy beds.

The compost was first tried in the vegetable trial beds on the bell peppers. They were trying to determine the correct amounts of compost to apply. About 4 weeks after the peppers were transplanted from the greenhouse to the trial beds they began to show signs of what looked like 2,4,D herbicide contamination. To save space look up the results of this investigation on line and see why once it was determined that the compost did it, they are still putting it on the trial beds. I found a 30 some page paper from the manufacturer that broke down all the tests and results and made the stuff seem as safe as rain.

Then I came to the ” The Journal of Pesticide Reform ” page. It said a lot of contradictory things. These people (the Manufacturer and the detractors) all talk about half-life of the chemical. Half-life? I thought that referred to nuclear degradation. Chemical degradation also, it seems is expressed in this manner. The findings from this organization were very different than that of the people who make it. Fetal skeletal deformities in ducks, rats, mice. Water solubility was another area where the opinions differed.

The chemical comes in three formulations. Two of the bases seem to cause very bad and sometimes permanent vision problems in humans. The compost counsel said that the occurrence of clopyralid in compost could not be controlled by the commercial compost operation. They took the stand that there could be contamination in compost for 14 months or more. The revised labeling on one of the brand names of clopyralid said that compost containing treated materials should not be used in the same year as the treatment was applied. This is not feasible. Some compost facilities make the transition from waste to compost in a row method and this takes from 2 to 6 months. There are faster ways.

Tumbler composters make this miracle happen in a whole lot less time than that. The main homeowner use of clopyralid is the elimination of broadleaf weeds in turf grass. If you compost at home do your grass clippings go into your compost? If one homeowner sends treated grass clippings to the commercial compost plant will that be enough to make the whole batch lethal to the garden plants it is put on.

Penn State’s peppers were affected not by composted grass as a main course for the composters, but by the incidental grass that was sucked up when the leaves were vacuumed up. As most weed killer is applied in the spring, and most leaves are vacuumed in the fall this make me wonder about that half-live. Would you not like to roll in the grass, walk down a power line, or have your pet frolic in the beautiful, weed-free front yard of your home, with your children. What is used on the parks and ball fields in our area? How about where we travel? I know that all sides of a question slant issues at times, and that to have any adverse effects you would probably have to dive into a bath tub full of the stuff, or would you? What are you to do?

As a home composter, you can control what you put into your own version of brown gold. Read labels. Become an informed consumer. Research is so easy now that we have the Internet. No computer you say, go to the Adams County Library. They will help you find the pages you need. Ask a Master Gardener. We exist to educate the people of our home counties. Find out which weeds are edible and throw a dinner party. Learn to pull weeds and if the scale of your operation makes that impractical read, understand and follow the application rates and listed uses on the package label. More is not better.

I do not know who is right and who is wrong in this debate. No matter what the truth is, higher prices or chemical poisoning will mean that the ultimate loser is us.

Healthy Organic Garden Techniques

Not exclusively will you develop delectable, new, sound sustenances; you will likewise add to the soundness of the earth and group by not utilizing hurtful chemicals. In any case, natural planting doesn’t simply mean not utilizing chemicals. It is a strategy that energizes life and differences in the dirt, plants, and creepy crawlies that live in the garden.

The part that puts the “natural” in natural planting is organic material (OM). This is the stuff that was once alive and, with the assistance of valuable microbes, is currently breaking down in your garden. For an incredible garden, you need however much of this decayed matter as could reasonably be expected.

Addition of OM. If you are ambitious this time of year you can start putting OM into your garden now. Put a thin layer of dead leaves, straw, hay, or grass clipping on your garden right away. It will break down, and when it is time to start planting you will have already incorporated some ever-so-important OM into your soil.

Compost. A key component to organic gardening is compost. Incorporate a fair amount (up to a 1 inch layer) of compost to your beds before planting. Leafgro™ is available at local garden centers, as well as other brands. Free compost is available from the county recycling centers in both Frederick and Carroll Counties. Learn about composting techniques and make your own pile and by this time next year you may not have to buy any.

Organic Seeds. If you usually start your own plants, you can buy organically grown seeds (sources below). This seed has been grown in compliance with the USDA organic program. With this seed you can be sure that you are supporting non-genetically engineered, sustainable production techniques.

Heirloom varieties are often chosen in organic gardens. Heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties that have been preserved for many generations. These plants will produce seed that will grow a plant genetically identical to the parent. This way you can save your seed from year to year and know what will result and at the same time preserve the diversity of unique varieties.

Weed Control. During the year, to discourage weeds, use mulch. Thick layers of the organic materials that I mentioned before will prohibit weed seed germination, as well as break down and add organic matter to the soil. You may also use synthetic mulches such as weed barrier fabric or black plastic (but make sure you remove plastic at the season’s end). Lay these over your garden beds and secure with soil at the edges. Cut holes and plant into them; this will greatly reduce weed pressure.

Pest Management. This can be challenging in organic gardening. It is said that when your soil is of high quality (containing lots of organic matter and nutrients), your plants will resist pests naturally. It takes a long time for soil to achieve this status. In the mean time, plant lots of flowering plants to encourage beneficial insects, which prey on pests. A few examples of these plants are yarrow, sea holly, allysum, dill and tansy. Another great weapon against pests is row cover. This thin, water and light permeable synthetic fabric provides a physical barrier between your plants and pests.

Cover Crops. One additional method that you may want to experiment with is cover crops. A good rule is to always keep your soil covered. If you grow a nice spring crop of lettuce and don’t have anything to put in when it is finished producing in July, grow some soil nourishing crops like buckwheat rather than leaving your soil bare. You can mow or cut it down before it produces seed and let the plant matter decompose into the soil, adding organic matter along the way. There are endless variations on cover cropping techniques.

Benefit of Use Leaves for Fertilizer

Harvest time is just about upon us, and you know the other word for the season – Fall. Why? Since the leaves will soon be falling surrounding us. Many individuals consider falling leaves as something that must be raked up and discarded, yet departs are planned by nature to be a characteristic compost and defensive cover for the earth.

Go into a woodland where nobody ever rakes up the leaves, and burrow down a couple inches. Have you ever observed such dim, prolific soil? You don’t need to be a nursery worker to realize that on the off chance that you were a plant you would preferably live in this dirt than in the stuff a large portion of us have in our yards. The distinction, obviously, is the takes off.

Leaves are full of nutrition that nourish the organisms that live in the soil. These organisms in turn help produce healthier roots on your plants, including your lawn grass. You may be saying, “I can’t just allow leaves to pile up on my grass. It will kill the grass.” You are probably correct, but that doesn’t mean bagging them and sending them to the landfill is the answer.

Try a new approach this year. When the leaves start to fall this autumn, continue to mow the grass as usual. Mow right over the leaves, letting them scatter over the grass. You can mow over leaves that are one foot deep, and your grass will be happy, but it’s better to mow often before they pile up, so you don’t clog the mower. This is much less work than raking and stuffing them into plastic bags.

The secret to healthy soil in your garden or lawn is feeding the billions of living organisms in addition to the earthworms that live in that soil. The best way to do that is by adding organics to the soil. Chemical fertilizers are artificial. True, the plants can’t tell the difference between natural and artificial nutrients, but those living microorganisms in the soil can. By feeding your soil instead of your plants, the soil becomes healthier, the plants develop better, deeper roots, and they, in turn, become healthier and more self-sufficient.

A lawn on a strictly chemical diet may look green and lush as long as you continue to water and fertilizer it. If you stop regular feedings or watering, the grass will die off quickly because it has shallow roots and no reserves. Chemical fertilizer supplies nutrients to the plants, but the high salt content will eventually kill the microorganisms, leaving you with dead soil! In a lawn fed organically, the grass will have deeper and healthier roots, and will be able to withstand periods of stress and drought.

Many people think that if they mow their grass without bagging, they will be creating thatch, but this isn’t true. Grass clippings are full of nitrogen which the grass needs. In autumn, when the leaves start to fall, you should keep mowing, mixing the grass clippings with the leaves.

This same idea for feeding the soil applies to your garden. The easiest way to make good garden soil is to mix grass clippings with chopped leaves and apply them to your garden beds as mulch each fall. It will supply nutrition to the garden soil, help retain moisture, and provide a breeding ground for those good microorganisms. In your vegetable garden, apply a thick layer of leaves and grass in the fall, and you can eliminate the need to till in the spring. This will save you work, eliminate much of your weed problem, and improve the over-all health of your soil. Tilling chops up your earthworms and microorganisms, and it exposes buried weed seeds to the light and oxygen they need to germinate.

In a perennial garden, a layer of leaves and clippings will not only nourish the soil, it will insulate the ground, preventing heaving and protecting the crowns of your plants. There is one note of caution to all this: if your lawn has recently been treated with a broadleaf herbicide, you don’t want to be spreading that grass in your perennial garden!

As valuable as leaves and grass clippings are to us in our yards, they are a huge problem in landfills. We hear constantly that landfills are running out of room and that billions of dollars are spent each year to handle the situation. Did you know that according to the EPA, as much as 50% of that waste comes from plant debris…namely grass clippings and leaves! This is one environmental problem to which we each have the opportunity to contribute to the solution.

How to Pick Native Trees for Your Yard?

There are 77 types of local backwoods trees in Frederick County be that as it may, not every one of them would be reasonable or alluring for a home scene. Locals are not really more impervious to malady than different plants yet they are appropriate to the atmosphere and soil and furthermore give sustenance and haven to neighborhood untamed life. By and large the more quickly developing trees are all the more brief and inclined to a bigger number of issues at development than slower developing species. For an uncovered parcel you may wish to plant a couple quickly developing trees to acknowledge now and to give some prompt protection, yet bear in mind to plant some slower developing trees for you or your great children to compose sonnets about. Great soil, (not compacted by development trucks) and great seepage is valued by generally assortments.

Of the native evergreens the White pine (Pinus strobus) is fast growing but intolerant of air pollution and salt so don’t plant them close to busy roads. Also, remember that it will eventually get 50-80’ high and 20-40’ wide! Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) (40-70’)can handle a shaded location but are susceptible to many diseases and insects. They also can not handle wind, drought, or bad drainage so be sure to use this native only under ideal conditions. The Scrub Pine (Pinus virginiana) will grow where nothing else can and can even handle salt spray but its ornamental value is debatable. The Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is also tolerant of adverse conditions, particularly limestone based soils but I would recommend one of the cultivars that has better color and form than the species.

In this area we see a lot of Bradford Pears, Norway Maples, Pin Oaks and Cherries but, there are many native deciduous trees that are used less often that I would recommend. White Oak is king of the oaks but it prefers undisturbed forest soil, so try the Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)or the Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata) as an alternative if you’re looking for a long lived, stately tree. The Swamp White Oak grows 50-60’in swampy locations but also has good drought resistance and is easier to transplant than the White Oak. The Overcup Oak also can withstand considerable flooding and is easier to transplant. It grows 40-60’ high and wide and has yellow-brown fall color.

The Chestnut once made up 50% of the forest in Frederick County but was wiped out by blight in the 1920’s. The American Chestnut Foundation is working on developing a resistant chestnut and it would be an excellent addition to your landscape as soon as they are available

The Red Maple (Acer rubrum) grows 40-60’ high but not all will get good red fall color in this area. Be sure to pick a cultivar that is cold hardy since some southern cultivars are not hardy here. The cultivars “Brandywine”, “Somerset”, and “Sun Valley” are males (no helicopter seeds to sweep up), have red fall color and are tolerant of leaf hopper (a common pest).The White Elm (Ulmus americana) (60-80’) was once used extensively as a street and lawn tree for it’s classic vase shape but many have been killed by Dutch Elm disease. The National Arboretum has developed a few disease resistant cultivars. “Valley Forge” shows the most resistance and should be available now.

If you’re looking for another large tree (60-75’ high and 40-50’ wide) with medium to fast growth the Sweet Gum (Liquidambar stryraciflua) might be your choice. Fall color can be excellent but is variable and the tree may take awhile to become established. The seed balls are attractive on the tree but can become a nuisance on the ground (especially in bare feet) so choose the cultivar “Rotundiloba” which is seedless and has good fall color.

If you are looking for fall color the Sour gum (Nyssa sylvatica), also known as Black Tupelo (30-50’), is one of the prettiest native trees. Growth can be slow but plant this tree when small to avoid transplant problems. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum, 30-60’) also has excellent fall color and while it may be scrubbier looking than many specimen trees it’s fruit makes great bird food. The same can be said of another native, the Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) which is shrubby with white flowers in spring.

Picture of Cornus florida
Cornus florida

If you are looking for a smaller tree (up to 30’ high) two common but beautiful, spring flowering natives are the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and Dogwood (Cornus florida) which both enjoy some shade. But more uncommon is the Hop Hornbeam (Ostyra virginiana) which likes dry, or well-drained soil and is an attractive tree for a smaller area. The Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) also known as Blue Beech is another under used species that will tolerate heavy shade, periodic flooding, and pruning. It can be used as a tall hedge or in a naturalized setting. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is also small and flowers in late fall or winter when nothing else is in flower.

Last, but not least is a tree to plant for posterity, the Beech (Fagus grandifolia). It doesn’t like wet or compacted soil and grows slowly but is worth it. Golden leaves often persist into winter and the nuts are food for many types of wildlife. Don’t forget, it will eventually get 70’ tall!

All of these trees can be planted in the fall but still need regular watering until they become established. Look for trees without any trunk damage, that are labeled correctly, and that are not left over from spring inventory. Also, while a bare landscape may be hard to live with, remember younger trees become established more quickly than more mature specimens and have a better survivability rate. Also be sure to consider the mature size of a tree when determining it’s location and the number of trees to plant.

Know The Reasons Why Grow Natives Plants

To start with how about we characterize local. As indicated by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), local plants are one which happened inside the state before settlement by Europeans. As we turn out to be more worldwide, our local types of plants are turning out to be less present in our scenes, and tragically in our regular living space. As plants from different parts of the world come into our scenes, things happen. For example, barberry and blazing shrub – now found in our woods – are decreasing the herbaceous material that ordinarily develops in forested zones. No normal predators, no regular controls.

Why would that be an issue? Here is a fascinating actuality: “In 2000, 5% of PA local plant species had been wiped out and another 25% were in threat of being wiped out.” ( Research demonstrates that the diminished local plants directly affect our local bugs, creatures of land and water, winged creatures, and natural life. We ought to be concerned in light of the fact that as our local creepy crawlies diminish, so does are sustenance supply. We require bugs to fertilize our vegetable plants, similar to cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and beans.

More interesting facts: “Americans manage 30 million acres of lawn. We purchase 100 million tons of fertilizer per year and 80 million pounds of pesticides (10 times the rate per acre of pesticides used by farmers). We spend $750 million on grass seed. Grass clippings consume 25 – 40% of landfill space during the growing season. Before settlers, 95% of the watershed was forested, now less than 60% is forested.” (

Growth is expected, but the way we manage growth can be controlled. We can increase plant diversity and connect plant corridors with our neighbors. We can reduce turf grass by planting shrubs, trees and perennials. We can increase insect diversity, reduce pesticide usage by planting plants that attract these insects. Increasing pollination for our vegetable crops by introducing native perennials into our landscapes will attract these beneficial insects.

Imagine being an insect, amphibian or mammal in today’s world. All in the name of growth, you have been limited to small, forested areas. Remember, our area has been reduced by 35% and counting. Traveling from one forested area to another, we can see housing, streets, cars, grass, and water that are polluted with pesticides– lots and lots of open space. Survival rate for native insects, amphibians or mammals? Probably not so good.

Now, what if we take that same environment and connect yards with shrubs, trees and perennials. What if we reduce the turf? Suddenly, the animals, birds and insects have corridors that connect them from one forested area to another. Not only have we created more diversity in plant and animal life; we have provided more food as well as safe routes for travel. We have allowed these critters to visit our vegetables to pollinate, allowed for activity in our yards we never would have seen, and we’ve cleaned up our water because we are using less pesticides as we allow for natural predators to prey on pests.

As a horticulturist, I get questions every day that go something like this: what can I spray to fix “xyz” problem? We as a society want quick and easy answers, and expect immediate results. Quickly, we get frustrated because the amount of pesticides available to us as homeowners is reduced each year, or so it seems. Why has this happened? We are the most abusive users of pesticides. We don’t read the label, or if the label says to use ¼ tsp per gal, we use ½ tsp, because more must be better.

Farmers and professional pesticide applicators are regulated. They have to take a test to apply pesticides. They have to continue their training of pesticide usage to keep their license. Homeowners, are not. We can use pesticides that we get at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-mart as we wish. We don’t always abide by label direction and can abuse our right to use pesticides without punishment.

Problems in our landscapes are often a result of bad planting, the wrong plant selection, or plant maintenance and have nothing to do with insect or disease issues; or the insect or disease issue is a secondary infestation resulting from bad plant management. Therefore, education is imperative so we can understand when to use pesticides, and what is the best management of our plants in our landscapes. If we concentrate more on native plants that are acclimated to our weather, soils, and natural insects, we will reduce the need for “fixes”.

As homeowners, we must look at our surroundings as a piece of the natural world. What was there before houses, streets and cars? What can I do to make my environment friendlier? Consider this: if we reduce our lawn, we reduce the amount of fertilizer we’re applying. If we reduce fertilizer use, we reduce pollution of local creeks and streams, possible contamination of ground water, air and noise pollution from gas powered equipment. Think about it: if we’re not mowing, we’re saving on gas. We are reducing our costs of fertilizers that potentially run into our water supply. We’ve increased biodiversity – the variety and variation of plants, animals, fungi, microbes and their relationship to each other, we’ve created a cleaner environment. We’ve reduced pollution of local creeks and streams and possible contamination of ground water.

It’s really quite simple. Each and every one of us can help our environment to become healthier and happier. All we have to do is:

Avoid fragmentation of forests by connecting your land to your neighbor through planting trees, shrubs and perennials.

Replace trees and shrubs with native plants and reduce turfgrass areas. This will allow our native critters to live happily, resulting in less pesticide usage and better pollination for our foods.

By your plants from someone that knows plants. Not all non-native plants are bad, not all cultivated or selected plants are bad. Many are good. Many have benefits to our environment, but ask a professional.

Wildlife Garden

A natural life garden can be depicted as a situation that is appealing to different types of untamed life, for example, winged animals, creatures of land and water, reptiles, creepy crawlies, and warm blooded animals. Natural life greenhouses may contain a scope of environments, including a lake to draw in frogs, dragonflies, and winged creatures; settle boxes for feathered creatures, log heaps to give asylum to creepy crawlies, reptiles, and worms; plants that pull in helpful bugs; and a differing supply of sustenance (year round) to pull in and keep untamed life in the garden.

There are four prerequisites to give a natural surroundings to untamed life, and these requirements can without much of a stretch be provided when you start to make your own particular untamed life cultivate. The four fundamentals are nourishment, water, assurance, and a place to raise a family.

Plant perennials and annuals that offer nectar, seeds, and fruits to provide nourishment for the wildlife in your garden. Shrubs that produce fruits and berries can be selected to provide food sources for wildlife.

A pond, water garden, or bird bath filled with fresh water provides a water source. Water is an essential component for any size and variety of garden.

Native plantings are best for the wildlife and the habitat. Some of the native species that we have are Eastern Hemlock (tsuga canadensis); Red Oak (quercus coccinea); Black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia hirta); Coneflower (rudbeckia laciniata); Pagoda Dogwood (cornus alternifolia); Lanceleaf Coreopsis (coreopsis lanceolata); Bluebell Bellfower(campanula rotundifolia); and Yarrow (achilea millefolium).

Trees provide the backbone of your wildlife habitat. Trees add protection, a place to raise a family, and provide roosting places along migratory routes. Low growing plants and ground covers are critical. They play an important role for ground-hunting creatures and provide vital shelter and protection for fledging birds and other wildlife escaping predation.

We have attracted a wide variety of birds to our gardens, along with frogs, dragon flies, butterflies, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and an occasional hawk.

Tips to Control Weed in Your Garden

Previously, the U.S. government has prescribed the utilization of napalm to wipe out annoying vegetation. Kidding aside, weeds are a major issue: as the not really glad proprietor of the National Champion Pokeweed, I should know. Like any difficult issue – destitution, bigotry, Britney Spears – there is no simple arrangement. There are, in any case, approaches to improve things (with the exception of the Britney Spears part.)

Weeds are just plants developing where we don’t need them to. They spread a similar way attractive plants spread: through seeds, by over the ground runners, and by underground roots. We should take a gander at seeds first.

Any garden soil contains a “bank” of weed seeds prepared to grow. In the event that we give those seeds the light, water, and supplements they require, they’ll sprout and develop. Here and there the very procedure of turning or working the dirt uncovered new weed seeds to light and dampness. Observe recently turned soil for growing weeds, and cut them off with a scraper as soon they show up. In the end, the seed bank will run out, and upkeep will get to be distinctly less demanding.

Weed seeds also blow or drift into gardens. Keep a close watch on wild areas of your yard to make sure that weeds don’t go to seed. Regular mowing helps prevent dandelions and other pests, including unwanted grasses, from reproducing themselves. In some cases, a thorough eradication program is necessary to remove the source of the invading seed armies – we’ll talk about some chemical options later on. Mulch, useful for so many reasons, also helps prevent seed germination.

Weeds like false strawberry (correct name?) and many brambles spread by runners that take root and create new plants. These weeds knit themselves so tightly into the garden that the only way to get rid of them is to pull them out by hand. Make sure the roots come with the tops, or the problem will continue. (This is true for most weeds.) That brings us to the question of soil preparation. A fertile, healthy, soil with good “tilth” – the horticultural word for proper soil texture – makes a great growing medium for weeds as well as garden plants. There’s no way around that fact. The good news is that it’s much easier to pull weeds out of healthy soil than it is to remove them from hard, compacted, unhealthy soil.

Weeds that spread underground are my least favorite. Bindweed and thistle are the two worst offenders in my garden, and they are very difficult to get rid of. Both have similar thick underground roots that spread parallel to the surface. You can physically remove the roots, but if you leave even a small piece, they will regenerate. If you remove the tops of these plants often enough, they will eventually weaken and die, but they are very persistent. I use one chemical trick with thistle that works pretty well (see below), but if bindweed has mingled itself through your valuable plants, hand-pulling is the only answer I know of. Don’t let either of these menaces go to flower, by the way.

We haven’t talked about herbicides (unless you count napalm, or for all I know, Britney Spears). There are basically three kinds of plant-killing chemicals: non-selective, which kill any and all plants on contact; selective, which kill only certain kinds of plants on contact; and pre-emergent, which prevent seeds from germinating.

Glyphosate, sold commercially under the name Roundup (among others), is an example of a non-selective herbicide. Glyphosate is considered by many authorities to be more “environmentally friendly” than alternative products, but there is a great deal of controversy regarding its effect on humans and the environment. With this and with any herbicide, follow the label instructions and cautions exactly. Glyphosate will kill most plants within a few days, generally breaks down within two weeks after application, and does not tend to migrate into the soil.

Remember: Glyphosate will kill or damage any plant whose leaves or green stems it contacts. Here’s a way to eliminate deep-rooted, established perennial weeds that have come up in the middle of a bed and can’t be sprayed: cut the stem and apply a single drop or two of undiluted Glyphosate (I use a recycled nasal applicator. Label it carefully!). This will kill even persistent thistle, burdock, pokeweed and small trees, is economical, and doesn’t endanger surrounding plants. Wear protective gloves during this process and wash up thoroughly!

2-4D, the active ingredient in most “weed and feed” products, is an example of a selective herbicide, acting only on broad leaf (dicotyledenous) plants, which is why it can be used on grass lawns and corn fields (grasses are monocots, and corn is a kind of grass.) “Drift” from this or any herbicide can lead to unintentional damage to nearby plants. In some cases, this damage mimics fungal or other disease symptoms. Many formulations are granular, which means you must use a carefully-calibrated spreader to apply them. If you spray, do so on still days, and once again, read and follow the instructions.

Pre-emergent herbicides won’t substantially harm existing plants, but they make it difficult or impossible for germinating seeds to grow, in some cases by preventing new root growth. Pre-emergents will only work if you have already removed all the adult weeds in the area you want to protect. You must also make sure that the plants you want to keep are well-established, especially if you want to treat a newly-seeded lawn. The pre-emergents will kill young grass plants just as effectively as they do anything else.

A quick review of weed control methods, in order of both time and preference:

Prepare your soil well – weeds will be easier to remove.
Remove sources of weed seeds, and keep potential weed beds mowed.
Mulch – not only does it conserve moisture and add organic material to your soil, but it prevents weeds from germinating.
Hand pull or dig weeds from established beds or plantings, and be sure to remove the roots.
Use appropriate herbicides only when necessary and only as directed.

Water Wise Gardening

Water preservation is critical whether we are amidst a dry spell or not, since water is a constrained asset. Over portion of the water we utilize goes into our scenes, so it bodes well to search for approaches to spare water as we garden. Xeriscaping, or water astute planting, is a progression of systems that spare water, as well as time. Here are the fundamentals.

Arrange, arrange, arrange. Each great garden starts with a decent plan. In this way, as you consider see, presentation, capacity and the various components of configuration, think water, as well. To spare water, gather plants with comparable water needs. Put plants with the most noteworthy water needs nearest to your water sources. Wrestling hoses or unlimited containers out to far-flung parched plants is my slightest most loved garden task.

Limit the size of your lawn. How much lawn do you really need? Lawns require more time, effort and water than most other parts of your landscape. So, reduce the size of your lawn. Instead, plant drought resistant ground covers, native plants or low maintenance trees and shrubs.

Use appropriate plants. Look for plants with low water needs, often marked as “drought resistant” on plant tags or catalog descriptions. Also, consider native plants. They are generally well adapted, have lower water demands and fewer pest problems. For a list of drought resistant plants, visit the Maryland Cooperative Extension office on Montevue Avenue in Frederick and ask for the free flyer, “Xeriscaping and Conserving Water in the Landscape.”

How you plant is nearly as important as what you plant. Plant trees and shrubs in mass plantings. Prepared beds allow for greater root spread and water take-up, plus grouped plantings look better. Also, plant in spring or fall when it takes less water to get plants established. And remember to make catch basins around newly planted trees and shrubs to catch water.

Improve the soil. Add plenty of organic matter to help hold moisture in flower beds and areas where you plan to plant trees and shrubs. Soil amendments such as peat moss and compost can improve root development, water penetration and retention. A good rule of thumb is 4 to 6 inches of organic matter in new beds. Add organic matter to your gardens every year to keep the soil and plants healthy.

Use mulches. Mulches minimize evaporation, reduce weeds, slow erosion and prevent soil temperature fluctuations. To help you choice the right mulch and apply it properly, pick up a free flyer on mulching at the Extension office.

Water efficiently. Water only when necessary, based on the condition of the plants rather than a fixed schedule. Don’t panic over a little droopiness. Remember, most plants wilt in hot sun, then recover.

Timing is everything. Water in the early morning since you lose nearly half of the water to evaporation in the heat of day. And when you do water, water deeply. Watering only when needed and thoroughly produces deep-rooted plants that are more water efficient and drought enduring.

Take advantages of new and old technologies. Try soaker hoses or drip irrigation to water deeply and encourage deep root growth. And hook up a rain barrel or two to your downspouts to capture free water. A mere 1/8 inch of rain on an average roof will fill a 60 gallon rain barrel. My rain barrel and I bonded during last year’s drought. I wouldn’t be without one now.

Practice appropriate maintenance. Keep your irrigation systems running properly. A leaky hose can waste gallons upon gallons of water. Practice proper pruning, weeding and fertilization to keep plants healthy and not overly thirsty. Mow the lawn high to reduce weeds and evaporation. And control weeds to reduce competition for water.