Thursday, October 17, 2013

Companion Planting With the Marigold

Marigolds are a versatile and lovely addition to most growing areas. They come in an array of color, height, and bloom size ensuring a marigold to suit every preference and growing space. Marigolds are believed to be one of the earliest cultivated flowers. Ancient Greeks used marigolds for their strong coloring ability to create makeup, and dye for both food and clothing. They are edible and have been used in cooking for centuries. In addition, marigolds have been and in fact still are used for many medicinal purposes. The marigold is known to have strong antiseptic properties and to be both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Marigolds have been used to treat cuts, scrapes, measles, stomaches, toothaches, urinary problems, and diaper rash. These are just a few of the many benefits of fully grown marigolds, but marigolds actually have benefits from the time they begin to root.
The benefits of marigolds when growing make them an exceptional choice for companion planting. This is a system of polyculture that has been used for thousands of years, throughout the world. Companion planting allows the benefits of a growing plant to be utilized by a plant and all of its neighbors. The benefits of a plant can be exceptionally varied. Some plants have evolved built in protection against pest. Other plants can fix their own nitrogen into the soil. Each variety of plant has its own benefits and drawbacks that are carefully considered when adding them to a companion planting system. By placing marigolds near the plants that will benefit the most, the entire garden becomes more productive.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Harvesting and Using Rose Hips for Tea

Rose hips, or rose haws are the fruit that forms from a pollinated rose. They are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants and many gardeners love to use them in teas, marmalades and oils.

Rose hips or rose haws have been used by people around the world for centuries. They are high in many nutrients and their use is a great preventative of colds and respiratory ailments. Since the early days of history, rose hips, in one form or another were used as laxatives, astringents, diuretics, nuitrients and love potions. During WWII wild rose hips were gathered by the people of England and Scandinavia and made into syrup to replace the Vitamin C rich citrus fruits that were unavailable because of the sea blockades. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Unexpected Places to See Beautiful Fall Foliage

The shortening days and lengthening nights of autumn set off a series of events that result in the beautiful fall foliage many of us enjoy each year. A moist growing season followed by a dry fall, warm days ending with cool nights, and plenty of sunshine also play a role in the amount of striking colors we see.

Our country has some exceptional spots for fall color: Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia's Skyline Drive, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, for example, all offer magnificent displays. However, there are many other options for viewing fall colors in America. Here are five places in five different parts of the country you may not have considered.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Matchstick Bromeliad

Many times I chance upon a plant that provides beautiful surprises. Such is the case with matchstick bromeliad. I had always thought bromeliads were tropical beauties that required special care and protection. Most of my bromeliads are put in containers and moved to the greenhouse come winter.

One winter quite by accident, I left the matchstick bromeliad outdoors. I found it the following spring, all healthy and undamaged by the ravages of my Zone 8B winter. With this encouragement, I planted the bromeliad outdoors underneath a tree. Even now, ten or so years later, the matchstick bromeliad flourishes. Very little damage has been inflicted on the foliage, but the flowers are sometimes damaged by a freeze. This is unfortunate, for late fall and early winter is when the flowers bloom.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Popular Ornamental Grasses for Fall Color and Texture

Ornamental grasses are an adaptable, easy to grow addition for your landscape. Your fall and winter landscape will look more appealing with added texture and color that ornamental grasses provide.

Ornamental grasses really give you bang for your landscaping buck. Most will give you year round beauty, texture and color, and they require very little maintenance. What could be better than that?

Many ornamental grasses are tolerant to any soil type. They come in various heights to fit in any type of landscape or garden. You can even grow them in pots to create seasonal decorations that you can change as you desire and display them indoors or out.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Preserving Winter Squash

Winter squash like butternut, acorn, and turban are gorgeous vitamin-filled fruits that are adaptable to a variety of recipes and uses. The plants are easy to grow and will usually reward the gardener with a wheelbarrow full of beautiful gourds. Winter squash store for up to three months in a cool dark location. For longer storage they may be oiled or waxed to prevent small rot and mold spots from taking hold in any imperfection on the skin. The surface of the skin needs to be washed and completely dried before waxing or oiling. Each squash will need just a light coating of your preferred preservation formula.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The History of the Bayberry Candle

One of the most important autumn tasks of the colonial American housewife was candle dipping. Probably few candles were as pleasant to work with as those made from bayberry wax.

The bayberry shrub, which the settlers also called the Virginia myrtle or candleberry bush, is a North American native shrub found mostly along the Eastern seaboard. Varieties of the bayberry, including the northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica) and southern bayberry (Morella cerifera), grow from Maine to Florida, most abundantly along the coast of the Atlantic.