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10 Steps for Putting Your Garden to Bed
By Jennifer Whipple
9/21/2016 9:30:00 AM  

Winter is coming…follow these timely tips for preparing your yard and garden for the cold months ahead – and for making spring cleanup easier!

 

  1. Dig up annuals and summer bulbs. If you haven’t done so yet, dig up summer annuals and use them to nourish the compost heap. You should also dig up your summer bulbs and store them in peat moss for the winter.

    EZ Digger Handmade Metal Hand Plow With Wooden Handle

  2. Clean the vegetable patch. Done harvesting? To keep pests from using your vegetable garden as a hibernation hot spot, make sure to weed and remove all debris before winter sets in.

    Vertical Cherry Tomato Garden


  3. Cut back and divide perennials. Now is a good time to rearrange plants if they haven’t been flourishing in their current location.

    Kneeler/Seat

  4. Bring container plants indoors. Nurse cherished plants through the winter in the garage or basement. Remove dead leaves and break up any hardened soil before bringing them inside.



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  5. Provide protection for plants that are sensitive to cold. Shrubs, roses, and perennials that might succumb to blasts of cold should be protected with mulches or screens. Place these protective barriers after the first freeze.

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  6. Rake fallen leaves. Don’t let fallen leaves stay on your lawn all winter – left unattended, they’ll suffocate grass and other plants. You don’t need to let them go to waste, either – shredded leaves make great mulch.

    EZ Leaf Hauler


  7. Plant spring bulbs. To ensure colorful springtime blooms, it’s best to plant bulbs in the fall. It’s best to get your planting done before the earth freezes.

    Tree Ring Garden Planter


  8. Mow the lawn and feed it. It grows more slowly in the fall, but do cut the grass before winter sets in. Be sure to lower the lawn mower and cut it short to help it dry out more quickly in the spring. Follow up that last cutting with a feeding – the extra nutrients will help it to survive the winter. After the last cutting, drain the gas from your gas mower.

  9. Clean your gardening tools. Wash off caked dirt, and coat both metal parts to prevent rusting, and add linseed oil to wooden handles to keep them from drying out and cracking. Drain your garden hose before putting it away.

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  10. Decorate for Autumn. Your outdoors needn’t be dull just because the growing season is over! Add fall color with pumpkins, potted mums, and a seasonal wreath on your door.

    Spooky Spider Pumpkin Holders


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Tags: Fall prep, gardening, yard & garden, lawn care, outdoor storage, garden tools
Categories: Outdoor Solutions
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In the Garden: Succulent Squash
By Jennifer Whipple
9/14/2016 8:31:00 AM  

When the leaves start to fall and temperatures drop, it’s the perfect time for serving healthy squash seasoned with delicious spices to warm the heart and soul.



 

Squash isn’t just about a weekend trip to the pumpkin patch for that perfect jack-o-lantern. This fruit, packed with nutrition and a combination of both sweet and savory flavors, will surprise you when you bake, steam, roast or even turn it into a favorite seasonal dessert, pumpkin pie! And that’s just one of the delicious varieties – there are many interesting types of squash to choose from besides the popular pumpkin.

 

Discover delicious winter squash

Winter squash differs from summer squash because it is harvested after the fruit has fully matured and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, it can be stored for use during the winter months.

 

Buying winter squash

Select squash that’s heavier than it looks. There’s no standard size, so you’ll have to eyeball a squash to estimate the amount you need. Choose fruit that has at least part of its stem attached, and make sure the stem appears hard, dull, solid, and dry (a missing stem means there might be mold or bacterial growth inside). Avoid squash that’s at all discolored, moist, or cracked.


 

Some squash varieties:


Acorn
. Popular for its small size, one acorn squash can be cut in half to make two heaping servings. Choose one with a deep, dark green ring. Keep in mind that the hard rind can be difficult to cut.





Butternut
. Popular for its ease of use, butternut squash is small enough to serve a family of four without leftovers. It’s known for its sweet, moist and nutty flavor. The rind is thin enough to peel. Choose one with a dull, tan rind.



 

Banana. This one is so large that grocery stores often sell it pre-cut into smaller chunks. The tasty variety is best known for its beautiful, golden-colored flesh.



 

Buttercup. A favorite winter variety, buttercup squash is sweet and creamy with an orange flesh. It tends to be dry, so take that into account when using it in recipes.

 



Delicata. One of the tastier winter squashes with a creamy pulp that tastes like sweet potatoes.

 


Turban. This squash has a colorful rind that makes a wonderful centerpiece. You can even hollow it out and use it as a decorative soup tureen!

 


Spaghetti. After cooking it, you can spoon out the flesh of spaghetti squash and pull out long yellow strands resembling spaghetti. These “noodles” can serve as a low-calorie substitute for pasta.

 


Pumpkin. Use the smaller “sugar pumpkin” for pies (the larger “jack-o-lantern” style is too watery). Canned pumpkin puree is easy to use in a recipe and makes a good substitute for fresh fruit.

 


Nutritional value

Winter squash is a good source of complex carbs (which give you energy) and fiber (which fills you up). It’s also loaded with potassium, niacin to maintain healthy skin, iron and beta carotene, which studies suggest aids in preventing both cancer and heart disease. The darker the skin, the higher the beta carotene content. One cup of cooked winter squash contains just 80 calories, is high in vitamins A and C, and a good source of vitamins B, K and folate.

 


Storing winter squash

Store squash in a cool, dry place (50° to 60° F), where it will last for several months. Once sliced, wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to five days. Freeze cooked squash for up to one year.



 

Be creative!

Try stuffing squash halves with a mixture of nuts, raisins, apples and/or onions spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup or even fruit juice. Bake upright in an oven at 400° F until tender.

 


Use squash for holiday decorating! Carved, hollowed out, or left intact, squash can inspire many decorative ideas for in and around the home. Pumpkins, of course, make great Halloween décor, and all types of squash make festive – and inexpensive – tabletop centerpieces for Thanksgiving.



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Tags: Garden, Squash, Gardening, Fall, Fall Decor
Categories: Easy Gardening
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Grow a Salad on Your Patio
By Jennifer Whipple
6/20/2016 9:56:00 AM  


Convinced your thumb is black instead of green? These five common veggies are so easy to grow, novice gardeners can even grow them in pots on a deck or patio! In no time at all, you’ll be enjoying enough fresh, homegrown veggies to make a respectable salad. Read on!

1. Tomatoes. Whether you’re using them for homemade sauce or fresh in a salad, nothing beats homegrown tomatoes. Large and small varieties can easily be grown in your garden or on a balcony or patio in a container. Start from seed indoors, moving them outside after risk of frost is past, or find at a nursery or garden home center. Popular varieties include Cherry, Beefsteak and Celebrity.



2. Carrots. Sow carrots seeds as soon as the frost is over, and replant every few weeks to enjoy all summer! So easy to grow, they’re ideal for beginning gardeners. They’ll do best in full sunlight and light, sandy soil: easy-to-grow varieties include Nelson, Imperator, Gold Pak, Lady Finger and Short ‘n’ Sweet.



3. Radishes. You’ll start seeing the results of your planting in as little as 4 days with radishes! So easy to grow, and their fresh, peppery flavor is a wonderful addition to salads. Sow them in early spring or fall and harvest in 4 to 5 weeks. Popular varieties include Cherry Belle, White Icicle, Scarlet Globe and Sparkler.



4. Lettuce. Lettuce can be planted any time during the growing season, but it does best during the spring and fall. Stay away from head varieties – the looseleaf or bunch varieties are easier to grow. Popular varieties include Salad Bowl, Lollo Bionda and Oakleaf.



5. Leafy greens. Even easier to grow than lettuce, leafy greens (such as kale, collards, spinach, mustard greens and chard) are even easier to grow and packed with nutrients. Like lettuce, leafy greens can be grown in a garden bed or container – they even do double duty as an attractive ornamental. Try several varieties so you can enjoy leafy greens throughout the growing season.





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Tags: easy gardening, container gardening
Categories: Easy Gardening
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