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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Beginners Garden Supplies

Gardening is a one of the most popular outdoor activities for any time of the year. Any backyard, patio or balcony can be turned into a garden with creativity and will. Here are some essential garden supplies to get you started.

A selection Of Garden Supplies

Garden Planters

Planters are very useful to gardening enthusiasts living in apartments or homes with modestly-sized backyards. These garden accessories allow you to turn any space into a miniature garden. Planters can help you create an herb garden in your kitchen or a colorful spread of flowers in your patio. Add restful splashes of green around the home with indoor plants in attractive flower pots and window boxes. Make your own recycled garden accessories by turning discarded or unused furniture and equipment into functional and attractive planters. An old gardening shoe, a wine barrel or even an old colander can be transformed into a unique planting pot for your garden.

Gardening Gloves

A sturdy pair of gardening gloves should be part of every garden supplies kit. Gloves protect your hands from chapping, scratches and blisters while you work in your garden. They also keep your hands clean, healthy and offer a comfortable grip.

A well-fitted glove is essential to a comfortable gardening experience. Stretchable spandex blends are a great choice for garden accessories like gloves as they provide a snug, comfortable fit. Look for breathable, antimicrobial materials that allow your skin to breathe. Bamboo blends are a good choice for gardening gloves, as they are both antibacterial and well-ventilated. Select gloves with close-fitting wrist cuffs, which keep out dirt and debris while fitting comfortably around the wrists.

A Gardening Journal

A journal is one of the most useful garden supplies any gardener can have. Every gardening enthusiast needs a place where they can record their notes, tips and progress reports. A gardening journal is a great way to keep track of that fertilizer formula that worked so well or the name of that prize-winning pumpkin. Jot down notes on weather patterns, new plants and garden suppliers, blooming cycles, garden equipment guidelines and more. Add diagrams and photos of garden plots and new designs and arrangements to try out. A garden journal allows you to organize and save all your hard-earned knowledge, ideas and plans in one, easy-to-access location.

Turn any corner of your home into a restful green retreat using these garden supplies and tips.


The Art Of Miniature Gardening

The allure to miniature gardening or fairy gardens is that all ages that can create a garden suited to their lifestyle and surroundings. From small-scale terrarium gardens to large-scale landscape gardens, miniatures can be displayed in a variety of places. People living in the country may consider designing a plot of land for their garden, while apartment dwellers may chose container or terrarium mini gardens. Whatever the size of your garden, having a consistent scale will create realism in the world of minis.

A miniature garden

There are a variety of scales used in miniature gardening, but the most popular size is 1:12 or 1-inch equals 1-foot. This is considered a large scale. The next size would be the 1:24 scale or medium scale, which is a great size for smaller pots or wicker basket tabletop gardens since.05-inches equals 1-foot. Lastly, there is the small scale, which works well with terrarium or tiny pots. This scale has a 1:48 ratio and.25-inches equal 1-foot. These three sizes are most commonly used in mini gardening, although there are additional scales that are popular with miniature enthusiasts.

In the fascinating world of miniature trains and railroads a variety of scales are used. When it comes to outdoor garden railways, the G-gauge or 1:22 scale is generally accepted. Even though the “G” comes from the German word for big, many feel it stands for the garden railroad. These medium scale model railroads are landscaped with live plants and they are designed to represent the real world. Since the G-gauge is so close to the 1:24 scale, many miniature gardening items can be used to set the scene.

When planning a Garden Railroad the scale not only relates to the accessories, but it also refers to the foliage growing throughout the landscape. Make your garden railroad come alive with plants. Add some moss to create a lawn or plant a small Boxwood Honeysuckle to become a shrub. According to the Chicago Botanic Railroad Garden’s Resource Guide, here are a few of the plants recommended for the miniature garden: Blue Star Creeper, Boxwood, Cotoneaster, Duckfoot English Ivy, Stonecrop, Picea glauca Spruce, and Scotch Moss. In addition to plants, the garden spaces can include waterfalls, ponds, pathways, retaining walls, and hardscape. Do you want a real life looking Garden Railroad? If yes, then take time to select items that are in proportion to the trains and tracks in the garden.

My final thoughts on scale in the garden include, “What if I measure the mini accessory and it doesn’t match any scale?” Select the scale that is the closest. Next, look at the proportion of the plant or accessory in comparison to the miniature garden and decide if you should go smaller or larger. Unless your miniature garden is entered in a competition, something that is close in scale will work fine and make your miniature gardening the topic of the neighborhood.

How to Choose Between the Different Types of Lawn Mowers

If it’s your first time shopping for used lawn mowers, you will soon realize that it’s not as easy as just going to the shop and taking one off the shelves to take home with you.

A mowed lawn

There are a lot of different types of lawn mowers, so your first challenge is in deciding which kind to buy. How do you tell which type is most suited for your needs? What’s the difference between them anyway?

Just follow these simple guidelines and you will be able to choose the right kind of mower for your lawn in no time at all…

The most economical type of mower is the reel mower. There are no engines involved, and you will have to push it around your lawn to mow the grass. As a result, it’s very environmentally-friendly, and reel mowers are a good choice if you have a fairly small lawn.

If you conscious about protecting the environment, but do not want that much of a workout when mowing the lawn, then you can consider getting yourself an electric lawn mower. This has an electric motor that makes it easier to cut the grass, but on the cheaper models you do have to drag a long power cable around to connect it to the power socket in the house. To get around this, you can choose a model that comes with a rechargeable battery instead. Then you won’t have to be tethered by the cable any more and yet you can enjoy the benefits of the electric motor.

On the other hand, if you don’t care about the loud noise and oil fumes, you can opt for a gas powered mower instead. This gives you a lot of power for the price, and is well-suited for the average lawn.

But if you have a very hilly lawn, then you will probably be better off with a self-propelled mower. With this kind of mower, you do not have to push it around yourself as the engine also turns the wheels and it can move on its own. Of course, this type of mower is more expensive, but it’s a trade off that many people are more than willing to make because it makes mowing so much easier.

By the way, there is a type of mower that mulches the grass instead of just dumping the cut grass by the side as you go along. If you do not want to deal with grass clippings, you can get a mulching mower but be prepared to pay a lot more for it as compared to the normal gas mower.

Last but not least, you can also choose a riding lawn mower. This type is most suitable for those people with very large lawns or backyards. As the name implies, you sit on top of the mower and drive it around while it does the mowing. This takes the least amount of effort on your part, and you can mow huge areas in very little time. But as expected, this type of mower is the most expensive type, and there is a lot more maintenance involved.

But no matter which type of mower you choose, you must choose one with good safety features. It’s a machine with sharp cutting metal blades after all, and a lot of people are injured while using mowers. That’s why you will want a mower that has safety features such as emergency shut-off switches or dead-man switches.

Don’t try to save money by buying a cheaper model if it does not have good safety features. It’s just not worth it should an accident occur, right?

Different Types of Lawn Mowers

There are many different kinds of lawn mowers. Once you begin looking towards getting a new mower you will probably lookup some lawn mower reviews and very quickly discover that you’ve many options available to you, along with the specific type of lawn mower (for example cost, size, and the like). That said, it’s fair to say that the type of mower you are considering purchasing is the primary factor involved. Cost, size, and everything else becomes unimportant if you start searching for commercial zero-turn mowers when you happen to just have a 20ft lawn.

A lawn mower working on the lawn

It is essential to undertake a brief analysis of the various sorts of lawn mowers and lawn tractors before you start checking through reviews, allowing you to grasp the basic facts surrounding them; like if, for example, the mower you are wanting to buy runs on a horizontal axis (known as a cylinder, or reel mower) or vertical axis (termed as a rotary mower). Just below are my different types of lawn mower reviews.

Reel/cylinder (horizontal axis) – Reel/cylinder mowers may be human-powered, but they are often joined together with an internal combustion engine.
As the most well liked commercial walk behind mowers (a lawn mower you push); the horizontal mower blade axis can make reel/cylinder mowers a superb all-rounder. They’d be of little use on commercial lawns, however for a small household lawn they are excellent.

Rotary (vertical axis) – Vertical rotary blades are incredibly powerful, and consequently typically they must be powered by an interior combustion engine. That said, electric rotary mowers have grown to be ever more common.

The primary down side to rotary mowers is because of the vertical axis they do not collect the grass cuttings. You will have to leave the cutting on the ground unless you wish to bag them to keep the newly cut lawn looking uncluttered.

Like with reel/cylinder mowers, the majority of these would be of very little use on commercial lawns, but for a compact home lawn they’re ideal.

Hover – Hover mowers are energized rotary push lawn mowers that make use of a turbine engine over the rotating blades to force air down so to produce an air cushion, lifting the mower above the ground.

Hover mowers are excellent for massive commercial lawns, parks and fields, and even for excessive grass areas. They are also equipped excellently to cut things such as shrubs due to their ability to hover.

Ride-on (also known as riding, or lawn tractors) – These are typically really popular for substantial commercial lawns, school fields and parks. The person working with the mower can sit atop it, operating the mower and literally riding it.

Nearly all riding mowers use the horizontal (reel) rotating blade system, accompanied by a lot of blades.

How To Build A No Dig Garden

The no dig garden is exactly what it describes…a fertile garden bed with no digging at all. It involves layering clean, organic materials that will literally compost around your plants as they grow.

A flower garden

The No Dig Garden is built on top of the ground, so you can build a garden anywhere. This makes it extremely attractive for those sites that have poor soil or are weed infested. It’s also a great method of gardening for those that can’t (or don’t want to) dig a
garden patch!

The site you choose for your garden must get at least 5 hours of sunlight a day. Drainage will be good because of the materials that will be used in making the garden.

If you are planting over lawn or weeds, mow them to ground level. If you are planting on a hard surface, put down some cushioning organic material first (like seaweed or leaves).

To build your no dig garden start with a layer of newspaper (no colour printing), at least 6mm (1/4 inch) thick. Surround the garden with some sort of border material. This can be bricks, logs, planks or rocks but should be at least 20-25CM high (8-10 inches)
to contain the organic material within.

Lay down a layer of lucerne hay leaving no gaps, to a height of 10cm (about 4 inches). Layer some good organic fertilizer on top to a height of 20mm (1 inch). This can be just about any sort of good quality material like chicken, horse, cow or sheep manure.

Add another thick layer of straw to the garden 150mm (6 inches) and another layer of fertilizer and then top it off with a 100mm (4 inches) of compost.

Water the garden until it’s soaking and let it settle for a few days before planting.

Seedlings do better than seeds in the no dig garden.

Here’s what will happen. The seedlings will get a kick start in the rich, compost top soil. The fertilizer underneath will start the ‘composting’ of the lucerne hay and straw. The composting will generate heat and biological activity that will really kick along the seedling growth. The roots will further break down the straw and hay and it in turn will become solid enough to support the growing plants.

The newsprint is thick enough to discourage weed growth through the layers, but will deteriorate enough to allow earth worms to chew their way upwards.

Continue to layer mulch, straw and compost as the garden bed matures. Never dig this bed over, just layer more and more material as required. Rotate your crops and add fresh compost regularly.

Your garden bed will deliver consistent, spectacular results season after season.

Lessons I’ve Learned from My Garden

What does Lessons from My Garden have to do with getting organized? One of the things I’ve learned after 20+ years as an organizing consultant is that organizing has something to do with everything!’

A Garden

Here’s how organizing principles apply to the art of gardening:

“Half of any job is using the right tool!” (Note I said “using” – not “having!”) It took a blister to convince me to buy a new pair of loppers to finish trimming the butterfly bushes. With the new tool, pruning was easy and painless.

Today’s mail is tomorrow’s pile. While it’s certainly important to clean up the trash, weeds, and other undesirables in your garden, if you limit yourself to that activity, you can work very hard and see little results. One of the things my landscape designer taught me was to pick one small area and plant beautiful things to inspire me to keep going. With Paper Tiger, we encourage you to start using Paper Tiger to organize your desktop – you can worry about all those old piles later! After you get the new system in place, you can incorporate the old files into the new system – and if you don’t, they’ll eventually be old enough that tossing them will be easy. In the meantime, you have what you need to do today’s work, and you won’t be creating new unidentified piles!

Clutter is Postponed Decisions. One of the first steps in creating any rewarding garden is determining what kind of garden you want – vegetable, herb, cutting, perennial, etc. As great as all those options are, if you try to have all of them in the same space, the result will be disappointing. Or, to apply another Paper Tiger principle, “Put like items together!” Create a specific area in your garden for herbs, another for cut flowers, etc. In the same way, you can create separate “locations” in Paper Tiger for personal papers, active projects, CDs, clients, etc.

Successful organizing begins with a vision. The most beautiful gardens are first planted in someone’s mind! The initial question I ask every client is “If we were to meet three years from now, what has to happen for you to feel happy about your progress?” Their answers are varied, and include such statements as “I’ll be making $100,000/year,” or “I’ll be taking six weeks of vacation every year,” “I’ll be working at home,” or “I’ll have a full-time assistant.” If we don’t have something to aim for, we’ll never get there.

Organizing doesn’t have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ The most exciting aspect of my work is the “art of organizing.” I frequently tell my clients, “You paint a picture for me of what you want to accomplish, and I’ll help you create and sustain an environment to make that happen!” What works beautifully for one client would be a complete disaster for another.

Organizing is a process not a destination. A garden, like organizing, is a continual process of reassessing what you like, what you don’t, rearranging existing plants, and trying new varieties. And so it is with organizing! Continually asking three questions: “Does it work?” “Do I like it?” “Does it work for the others I care about?” Be willing to take risks, don’t worry about mistakes, and just keep learning!

Palm Growing At Home

Everybody recognises palm trees, they are the universal symbol for the tropics but many are hardy enough for our temperate climate gardens. Until recently New Zealand gardeners have had only a very limited range of palms to choose from. In the last five years the range has grown enormously as nurseries have been encouraged by gardeners eager to experiment.

Nevertheless, palms are, on the whole, slightly tender plants. Those that will tolerate regular frosts of -6°C. or more are few in number. If your minimum temperature does not drop below -2°C or if you are in a frost free area the range of suitable plants increases considerably.

There are two main styles of palms; the fan and the feather. The names refer to the layout of the fronds. Fan palms have the leaflets of the frond arranged just like a hand operated fan. The most widely grown fan palm is Trachycarpus fortunei, the Chinese Fan Palm. Feather palms have the leaflets of their fronds arranged along a rigid midrib like a bird’s feather. The most commonly grown feather palm is Phoenix canariensis, the Canary Island Date Palm.

Palms are extremely important plants to the world’s economy. The true date palm or commerce, Phoenix dactylifera, is rarely seen in New Zealand but is the most common commercially grown palm. The coconut, Cocos nucifera, is not far behind. Possibly more significant than fruit crops is the use of palms for shelter. Virtually every tropical third world village relies on palms as a roofing material.


Although palms are associated with sun and sand most species appreciate light shade when young. Shelter from wind is important if the fronds are to look their best but as the plants eventually become quite large they will eventually have to tolerate exposure to sun and wind.

When siting a palm remember to take into account the spread of the crown. This is not so significant with a mature plant as the crown is usually well above most obstructions. The problem is adolescent plants, which tend to have much the same spread as adults without the height. They take up a considerable area until the trunk begins to develop.

Soil conditions

Palms generally do best in a rich, moist well-drained soil. They have fairly strong roots that anchor them firmly. The roots of many palms can withstand a considerable amount of abuse, which enables the trees to be safely transplanted at almost any size.

Climate adaptability

Many palms are frost tender but there are quite a few that tolerate reasonably tough frosts. The best known are Phoenix canariensis and Trachycarpus fortunei but you should also consider Jubaea chilensis, Chamaerops humilis, Butia capitata, Washingtonia robusta and Brahea armata.
Palms often grow well in coastal conditions but benefit from occasional wash downs to remove any salt spray deposits.

Container growing

Palms often make superb container plants, both indoors and outdoors. Many are undemanding and tolerant of neglect. In cold areas it’s often best to keep young palms in containers until well established. That way they can be moved under cover for winter. Once they have a spread of over 1.5 m or so they should be hardy enough to plant out but if it’s not inconvenient it’s better to wait as long as possible.


Palms are nearly always propagated by seed. They usually have only one growing point so vegetative propagation is not practical. Occasionally suckers form at the base of established plants and may be carefully removed for growing on but this is not a reliable method of propagation.

Palm seed varies greatly in its ease of germination. The most common problem is very hard seed coats. No amount of scarification or soaking will soften the toughest of them. Sometimes acid treatment is resorted to but patience is the usual method. Some, such as Butia capitata, may take upwards of a year in the soil before germination but eventually with the right combination of moisture, temperature and time they sprout.

Pests and diseases

Palms are not prone to any unusual pests or diseases. Frost damage is far more likely to the biggest problem.

Palm selection

Do not expect to find all of the species at your local garden centre; many of these palms are only available as seed. Unless otherwise stated all of these palms have panicles of small yellow flowers.


The King Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) is a prominent feature in many tropical and sub-tropical areas but it is too tender for all but the very far north. Archontophoenix cunninghamiana is a better bet but it still requires a near frost free climate with warm summers. It is a feather palm with long arching frond. It can reach 20 m high but rarely exceeds 7 m in New Zealand gardens. The flowers are followed by masses of small red berry-like fruit. Archontophoenix cunninghamiana may be grown indoors but it needs high light and humidity levels. The seeds germinate easily.


Two species of this genera are suitable for growing outdoors in mild areas. Both are feather palms with broad leaves that have silvery undersides. Arenga pinnata requires near frost free conditions but Arenga engleri from Taiwan will tolerate infrequent light frosts. Both species have interesting flowering habits and fruit. Arenga pinnata is monocarpic; it dies after flowering although it takes at least ten years to reach maturity. Arenga engleri survives to flower again but the leaf stem beside the flower stalk dies. Both species have fruit with extremely caustic pulp. Both species are unlikely to exceed 3.5 m high under New Zealand conditions but Arenga pinnata may reach 18 m high in its native South East Asian region. Arenga pinnata seed germinates quickly and easily but Arenga engleri is erratic and may take several months to sprout. Not usually grown indoors.


These fan palms are becoming more common in New Zealand gardens. Both of the common species Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata) and Guadeloupe Palm (Brahea edulis), are reasonably hardy and adaptable plants. B. armata has beautiful, finely divided glaucous fronds. It is the hardier of the two and will withstand -8°C once established. It has a stocky trunk for many years but may eventually reach 12 m high. Brahea edulis is tender when young but withstands -6°C once the trunk is over 10-15 cm diameter. It grows slowly to about 15 m high. Both species are tolerant of drought and low humidity. Brahea armata has 12 mm diameter brown fruit, while Brahea edulis has edible 18 mm diameter blackish fruit. Grow in full sun. The germination of Brahea armata seed is very erratic and may take up to year. Brahea edulis is less tricky but still not very reliable. High light requirements make Brahea unsuitable for indoor cultivation.


The Yatay, Pindo Palm or Jelly Palm (Butia capitata) from Brazil is a hardy feather palm with long drooping olive to bluish green fronds. It will withstand -10°C once established and deserves to be more extensively grown. It grows to about 7 m high. The flowers are followed by yellow to red 25 mm diameter pulpy fruit. Grow in full sun. Seed germination is highly variable, it is unlikely to take less than two months and may be a year or more. High light requirements mean this palm is not very suitable for growing indoors.


The Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) is often grown as a house plant and is unlikely to grow well outdoors except in the very far north. Caryota urens has slightly lower heat requirements but will not tolerate any frost. It has very dark green, slightly arching fronds. All Caryota palms have intricately cut bipinnate feather fronds. Most species grow to large sizes (over 18 m high) in the tropics but are unlikely to exceed 8 m high under New Zealand conditions. They have fruit with caustic pulp that should not be handled with bare hands. The seed germinates easily. Caryota palms grow well indoors but prefer warmth and high humidity.


The Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) is a bushy fan palm that is usually multi-trunked and will not exceed 6 m high. The trunks take many years to form and are seldom seen in gardens. Most plants grow to about 1.5 m high x 5 m wide. The fronds are tipped with sharp spines. It is a very hardy palm that tolerates -15°C. Tolerant of low humidity and drought. Grow in full sun. The seed germinate well and takes about six weeks to sprout. High light requirements and sharp spines make it unsuitable for indoor use.
Chilean wine palm-see Jubaea


The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) is one the most important commercial crops. It is essentially a tropical palm but will grow outdoors in frost free areas of the far north. It is a large feather palm that often develops a leaning trunk. It may grow to 30 m high in the tropics but rarely exceeds 8 m in gardens. The fruit seldom will not develop to its normal size in our climate but becomes large enough to be a conversation piece. Coconuts germinate well but take at least three months to sprout. They need consistent warmth and the whole nut must be planted, do not strip away the husk. May be grown indoors but resents cold draughts.
Date palm-see Phoenix


Although primarily a tropical plant the Assai Palm (Euterpe edulis) will grow outdoors in frost free areas with warm summers. It is a feather palm with arching fronds and graceful drooping leaflets. The trunk is improbably slim fro the size of the foliage head and may grow to 25 m high although it is unlikely to exceed 10 m high under New Zealand conditions. The fruit is black and about 12 mm diameter. The seeds germinate easily. May be grown indoors when young.

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