Fall brings many outdoor gardening chores such as raking leaves, cleaning and putting away gardening tools as well as preparing your pond or water fountain for winter. Don’t forget about the fish and plants that may be in your pond. They need winter care as well. Some plants do quite well over the winter months in a pond as long as it is deep enough. Others will die unless they are brought indoors and given adequate light. Fish are another consideration. Some will survive the winter but feeding them is important. Others won’t survive unless you bring them indoors. Once you decide what to do about the fish and plants in your water feature, the next step is preparing that water feature for the cold weather that lies ahead. Following these basic steps will help insure that you get years of enjoyment out of your water feature.
If you have a concrete or cast stone water fountain and live in a cold area the best advice is to empty it, remove the pump and bring it all inside before the first freeze of the season. Cold temperatures cause concrete to expand and contract which could cause the concrete to crack, especially if there is water in your fountain.
Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Always talk with your doctor about any natural remedies you wish to use before taking them. Some natural remedies do not mix well with prescription medication.
Many years ago, it used to be that the majority of people relied on natural remedies. But that got pushed aside in favor of modern medicine. There’s no doubt that modern medicine has done a lot of good, but it’s not without its downside. Sometimes people end up overmedicated for health issues that can be treated simply and effectively at home. A great way to treat some of common health problems that affect people is through the natural use of plants. Plants don’t give you the same dangerous side effects that a lot of the medications prescribed today do. Plus, it’s easier and a lot more cost effective to turn to nature when you need healing.
There are a lot of different plants you can grow that will treat your ailments naturally. Some can be applied topically and some can be brewed into teas. You should make sure that you understand how much of a plant you should use, because just like medicines you get at the pharmacy, there are dosing guidelines you need to follow when using plants to treat ailments. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor as they can often guide you along the path to using natural medicines.
A small backyard pond is a miniature representation of the natural aquatic world. If you have fish in your pond, you have a source for a great fertilizer for your plants. This fertilizer is known as fish emulsion. While you can remove some of this fish emulsion to use on your plants, you do not want to remove too much or you could offset the balance of your pond. Knowing just how much to remove takes time and this is why some people do not bother removing any fish emulsion. Understanding the two groups of elements in a garden pond is important for the health of the pond water and the fish or plants that live in that water. Those elements are ones that enter the air and those that accumulate in the pond and cause problems such as algae. A closer look at these elements will give you a better idea of what exactly is in pond water and why fish emulsion makes such a great fertilizer.
Nitrogen – Essential for a Healthy Aquatic Environment
Nitrogen is essential to a healthy pond. It is created by beneficial bacteria which reprocess the various nitrogenous compounds. These compounds can be found on both soft sediment and on all of the hard surfaces inside a pond. Nitrogen gets into a pond through leaf matter, fish food, nitrates in untreated tap water as well as proteins from snails and worms. Nitrogen is an essential ingredient in fertilizers represented by the letter N. It encourages rapid plant growth. Too much nitrogen though is not good.
Phosphorus – a Reactive Element
Phosphorus enters the pond environment when fish eat live plants because phosphorus is incorporated into plant tissue. When the fish excretes the excess phosphorus that is not absorbed by the fish’s body is released back into the water. Phosphates can also enter the water through fish food and tap water. Phosphate levels are generally pretty low in a backyard pond however they do promote the growth of algae in a pond. Phosphorus is also in regular fertilizer. It is responsible for promoting cell division and new tissue development. Phosphorous promotes root growth, winter hardiness and often hastens plant maturity.
Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide
When oxygen and carbon dioxide are created in a pond they are released back into the atmosphere when there is too much in the pond water. Oxygen is produced by aquatic plants through photosynthesis and is beneficial to the plants and animals in the pond as well as the environment as a whole. Carbon dioxide can occur in algae rich mud as well as a heavily fed pond, even if the water is clear. A low pH can mean there is a buildup of carbon dioxide. However, this is usually short lived and the excess will enter the atmosphere. If there is a constant supply of too much carbon dioxide it will need to be offset by the addition of more oxygen so that the aquatic plants, fish and other critters in your pond do not suffer from oxygen deficiency. The most effective treatment for a lack of oxygen in a pond is to aerate the water with a water feature such as a waterfall or fountain.
To everything there is a season and herbs are no different. Just because the herb garden is dormant does not mean the seasonal care stops. There is pruning, mulching and sometimes even direct seeding indoors or out during the winter months. Another consideration is the climate you live in. Here in Indiana the herb garden begins to fade by October and is generally fully dormant come December – however if you live in a warm climate such as Florida, this is not the case. So here are some seasonal herb care guidelines you can adapt for your climate or specific growing conditions.
This is a good month to organize all of the notes you took during the main gardening season. Think about which herbs you used the most of. Did your harvest meet your demand? If not, make a note now so you can increase production next year. What about herbs you didn’t use? Make a list of those too and think about why you grew them in the first place. Possibly next year is the year to eliminate those from your growing list.
Cut back perennial herbs once they die down. Hopefully you were able to make one last harvest before frost hit but if not, make a note of the day that frost killed your garden so you are sure to harvest before that date next year. Remember to never take more than 1/3 of your plant material in height.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book Flora Illustrata for free in exchange for my honest review.
Flora Illustrata edited by Susan M. Fraser and Vanessa Bezemer Sellers throws open the doors to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Gardens. Published in time to mark the gardens 125th anniversary, this large book shares eight centuries of work and makes that work accessible to everyone. The book focuses on five distinct areas – the library, great books and prints, groundbreaking works, celebrated works, and the landscape of the New York Botanical Garden. This book is a must have for anyone with a passion for horticulture or botany.
The illustrations in the book are very well done – and many are in color. Each illustration is well explained and the artwork is simply outstanding. That alone is worth purchasing the book for. Here are two of the illustrations seen in the book.
The photo above – according to the book – was the first printed illustration of Anthurium gladiifolium. I love the way all the various parts of this aroid are drawn and labeled. I believe this photo says much about the history of horticulture and the importance of knowledge to our ancestors.
We had a killing frost last night, so most of the garden was already gone today – including my hardy figs. I did not get them covered in time to save the figs that were almost ready to pick – but there is always next year. After a careful survey of the garden I did find several cold hardy plants up in the big vegetable garden that were doing well. I dug those up and transplanted them to the small hoop house for the winter. Those plants were celery, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and lettuce. Growing inside the hoop house was some onions left over from last year. I watered all the plants in well and am sure they will do just fine thought the winter.
Normally I would have started my fall and winter vegetables from seed directly inside my hoop house. I have been dealing with some personal issues due to the unexpected death of Jerry last year and simply have struggled to have a garden at all. I had planted these vegetables in the spring but due to anxiety issues did not get up to the big garden to take care of them – and this is why I had the pest issue. I think given that they were not watered once other than by rain, had no fertilizer other than the organic compost that was put on last fall and no other care they did quite well. You can see for yourself in the video that I made of the hoop house winter garden.
What a title for a post, right? It fits. People ask me all the time why I garden. It is a lot of work – especially when you garden on 2 1/2 acres. There are weeds to pull, land to till, never enough mulch and it gets darn hot in the afternoon in Indiana when you are working in full sun. No matter how much I amend my soil not every plant makes it – and most grow quite slowly. I seldom fertilize unless it is organic fertilizer. I do spread compost but not as much as I would like to or as is necessary for a garden this size. I don’t water on a regular basis either. The cost is one reason and not enough time to do everything that needs done is the other. This year health issues have also come into play.
I have learned weeds are a fact of life. I cannot keep every bush, tree or plant perfectly pruned alone. Not given the sheer number of plants I have. I have learned to relax a little and realize I can only do so much. I no longer have a fellow gardener to work with – not since Jerry passed away. Yet I am not giving up. I am just stepping back. Observing. Allowing nature to run its course. Not every plant will survive. Not every plant is meant to survive. This is life. Next year will be better. Next year I will survey the garden, make a list of what stays and what goes then begin the daunting task alone.
As a gardener one problem I frequently run into is the ability to get light into the center of my plants. I grow a lot of tropical plants. Since I live in Indiana these plants are grown in the greenhouse over winter and even with supplemental lighting getting the light where it needs to go is difficult. When I heard about the Ultimate Plant Cage I was excited to give it a try. I knew – if it worked like they said it did – that it would make gardening under low light conditions easier and during the summer months when I have full sunlight, I knew my plants would thrive in a way they never had.
I also find that often plants become unruly as they grow. Using a trellis is an option but sometimes simply does not display the plant so it looks great. The Ultimate Plant Cage helps keep plants growing upright and offers a solution for keeping those unruly stems under control. This means you end up with bigger, healthier and happier plants that you can truly showcase.
The Ultimate Plant Stakes truly help #supportplants and do not break or rot the way bamboo stakes do. Not to mention bamboo is the perfect hiding place for bugs and mites which then attack your plants. The Ultimate Plant Stakes support your plants in the same basic way bamboo stakes done but have numerous advantages. They do not hold water, they are adjustable so you can adjust them to fit the height of your plants as they grow – up to 36″ – and are made of high quality plastic. This means you can use them for years to come. You can use them alone or with the Ultimate Plant Cage.
We moved here in August 2004 and I brought plants with me. Some I had grown for many years and some had just been bought that summer. I also brought tubs full of seeds in anticipation of having acreage that I could garden on. Over the years I have watched the garden change drastically. Some plants live – some die. This past winter was the worst one since moving here. I am seeing plants begin to die off that I thought had made it through the winter. My roses took a hard hit and until they bloom I’m honestly not sure if what I am seeing come up from ground level is the actual rose I bought or grafting stock. I do plant my roses so the graft is two to three inches below ground – so there is a good chance that the roses – while killed back to ground level – did survive. Even my Rugosa roses are showing mass damage. The poppy in the photo above made it through the winter and has spread. I love this poppy so I am excited about that.
In this post I am going to share some photos of plants in my garden with you. I have realized that I take the photos, put them on my hard drive and never look at them again. It is time to stop doing that and start sharing. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments on this post. We are all here to learn from one another.
Even though the sun is shining and spring is on it’s way, the cold nip of the wind still hangs in the air. The garden beckons – and I obey. It is muddy – but drier today than a few days ago. The brisk breeze moves the wind chimes – sometimes ever so slightly, sometimes violently. It is a sound I enjoy and often hear late at night or first thing in the morning upon awakening. Many of the wind chimes are now broken so I cherish the few that are left. I don’t know when I might be able to replace the missing ones.
Many of the bird houses and feeders are on the ground – and some of the birdbaths are now broken. These past few years – especially last year – made it hard to get into the garden to do any type of upkeep. It shows. There is dead plant material and leaves everywhere. Plant tags are scattered. The entire garden is in disarray. Weeds linger that should have been removed long before they ever bloomed – but bloom they did and thus the seven year weed seed cycle begins again. This time I fight the battle alone – or so it seems.