Category Archives: Garden Design

FavaBeans

ALL ABOUT BEANS: Bean Varieties

Bean varieties offer you options for your garden. Beans are available in two main types: shell beans and snap beans. Shell beans offer protein-rich seeds while snap beans are grown for their pods. Furthermore you can segregate beans into four growth patterns: bush, pole, runner, and half-runner. Bush bean plants are bush-like in form and are self-supporting. Pole beans have vines that grow up structures and appreciate stakes or trellises. Runner beans are cool weather condition pole beans and half-runners have a growing habit that falls between pole beans and bush beans.

There are tons of beans available to grow in your garden this year, but let’s explore the most popular. Black beans, black-eyed peas, fava beans, garbanzo, lima beans and string beans are all easy to grow and have nutritional benefits. Check out the highlights of each:

Black beans – popular for stews and soups, these beans need three months of warm temperatures to mature. Be certain the danger of frost has passed when planting black beans.

Black-eyed peas – available in bush and runner varieties, black-eyed peas are easy to grow given the proper climate and conditions. Black-eyed peas are typically white with one black spot on them.

Fava beans – thriving in cold, damp weather, fava beans are more popular in Europe than the US. They take about 75 days to mature and are a great source of vegetable protein, only second to soybeans.

Garbanzo beans – a bushy bean plant that needs about 65-100 days until maturity, garbanzo beans are also known as chickpeas.

Lima beans – consisting of pole and bush varieties, limas take 60-75 days for bush variety growth where pole types need 90-130 days for growth. Plant lima bean plants when you’re sure that frost threats have passed.

String beans – grown in soil temperatures at 65 degrees or higher, these plants need about 45-75 days until harvest. Stakes or a trellis will help support these climbing vines.

Rose tree at St. Michael's Church in Hildesheim © Leif Obornik

All About Roses: ROSE FACTS

Although garden cultivation of roses started 5,000 years ago, the rose genus is about 35 million years old according to fossil evidence found in Colorado. Planted in A.D. 815, the world’s oldest documented rose bush is located in Hildesheim, Germany. It is now about the size of a tree.

Roses grow throughout the world and are not limited to one geographic region like some plants, and are therefore referred to as a universal flower. They have been used in history for purposes ranging from perfume to medicine to symbolic meaning.

During the seventeenth century there was such a high demand for this flower that rose water and roses were used for bartering purposes and were considered legal tender such as the dollar is today. People could use roses for payment – can you imagine? Additionally, dried rose petals were believed to have mysterious powers until the nineteenth century.

Check out these neat tidbits of info:

  • The Roman Emperor Nero would shower his guests in an extremely dense cloud of rose petals. It is said that some guests almost suffocated from the intense fragrance.
  • A relationship between the five petals of the Rosa sancta and the five wounds of Christ was identified by early Christians.
  • The largest recorded rose was a 33 inch wide pink rose bred by Nikita K. Rulhoksoffski in California.
  • Although roses are known for their medicinal uses they were initially used as an enhancer to hide the bitter taste of medicines.
  • About 150 million rose plants are purchased by American gardeners annually.
  • 85% of Americans claim the rose as their favorite flower.
  • It is said that thorn less roses given to someone symbolizes “love at first sight.”

Image: Rose tree at St. Michael’s Church in Hildesheim © Leif Obornik

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Garden Tools and Equipment

Quality garden tools and equipment don’t come cheap so protecting your investment for use year after year is important. Let’s discuss how to keep our garden gear in top shape for extended life.

Storage is the most crucial form of care for your tools and equipment. Keeping moisture out and creating a dry environment for your gear is important so be sure to stow away in a garage, shed or airtight bin. If left outdoors, wooden handles can crack, split, and splinter creating a very tough tool to work with. Rust also becomes a huge issue for metal surfaces, so take the extra time to return items to a safe place.

Keeping your tools and equipment clean is beneficial for extended product life, too. Dirt will hold moisture causing damage to wooden features and creating a breeding ground for rust. Wipe all tools clean using a little turpentine and water and dry using an absorbent cloth.

Sharp tools are helpful tools. Every so often you’ll want to sharpen your tools so they do a better job and are better garden assistants. Visit your local hardware store and purchase a file for metal surfaces. Using one long stroke move the flat edge of the file down the beveled edge of the blade you’re sharpening. Once at the end you’ll want to lift the file and place it back at the opposite edge of the blade. Running the file back and forth does not continuously sharpen your blade; in fact it does nothing more than dull your file.

Blades for your weed whacker, lawn mower, and larger lawn and garden equipment can be sharpened, too. We recommend, for safety reasons, taking them to a garden center and allowing professionals to assist in the maintenance. These large blades can be extremely dangerous and injuries can be prevented for a small investment.

With the appropriate actions and a little TLC your garden gear can be helpful for many seasons. Often the best way to keep your tools working top notch is simply a preventive step here and there!

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Your Garden Planning: Flower Garden

Planning a flower garden is not so dissimilar than planning a vegetable garden. You’ll want to start by deciding your goals – are you gardening for color, for scent, for a specific theme? Depending on your goal, or goals, you can begin to gather inspiration. We enjoy creating a large “mood board” full of ideas for our garden and appreciate being able to see a visual of what we are hoping to accomplish.

After you have a mental picture of what you’d like to include in your garden you can take it to paper and pencil. Using the Avant Garden Décor Garden Planner you can map out exactly how you’ll want your garden to look, including what patio area, furniture, fountains, and more you’ll have included.

Make a timeline regarding when to plan the various seeds and the approximate amount of time they’ll need until bloom. You will also want to note whether plants are perennials that bloom multiple times in a garden season or if the flower is an annual that can be replaced once its life cycle is complete.

Next, you’ll want to head online or to your favorite local gardening center to stock up on plants and seeds. Some of our favorite online seed shops include:

Finally, using your timeline and garden tools you’ll want to get started! All your planning hard work will pay off when you can bring your drawings and inspiration to life on your very own property.

Take photos of your planning process for us and share with our community on Facebook. We can’t wait to see them!

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Your Garden Planning: Garden Goals

As with most large projects, defining goals for your garden is the ideal way to begin this planting season! To help you we’ve put together some of our garden goals when we go to plan our gardens:

  1. Decorative gardens to provide visual value to a home – flowers can create a backdrop and decorative value to your property
  2. Gardens created as a food source – growing your own produce allows you access to fresh food at a fraction of retail cost
  3. Gardens created to provide a habitat to certain animals or insects – used to provide a home or food source for butterflies, birds, and more, gardens can have a highly beneficial relationship with animals
  4. Gardens to test various crops or provide hobby – sometimes you may want to garden just for the sake of gardening, and we dig that goal too!

Thinking about this year’s garden and the impact you’re hoping it will make? Share your gardening goals in the comment section below or visit us on Facebook and share with us there!

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Understanding Your Gardening Hardiness Zone

If you’ve exercised your green thumb we’re sure you’re familiar with the term “hardiness zone” or “gardening hardiness zone”. But, what exactly does this all mean? Let’s explore.

A hardiness zone is expressed as a “geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone.” These zones, according to the USDA, are based on the average annual extreme minimum temperature during a 30-year period in the past, not the lowest temperature that has ever occurred or is predicted to occur.

So, how do you know which zone you’re in? The USDA has created a very detailed map outlining the US and how the zones are broken down. This resource is second-to-none when it comes to hardiness zones.

Once you determine in which hardiness zone you reside – and it is as simple as visiting the USDA map and clicking the mouse on your location – you can use this information to better plan your garden. Knowing your zone informs you of the following:

  1. When temperatures allow you to begin planting in regards to projected frosts
  2. What your average lowest temperature is
  3. Which plants best perform in your zone

It is also important to be aware that there are factors that will affect plant growth in addition to your hardiness zone. Consider the following to have a variable effect on your plant’s success:

  1. Pollution
  2. Temperature
  3. Moisture in air and soil
  4. Soil quality
  5. Light exposure
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Holiday Houseplants!

We love the holidays and we love houseplants, so why not combine the two? Consider giving one of our favorite holiday houseplants as a gift this season!

Amaryllis Flower

 

Amaryllis, Amaryllis belladonna: a popular winter-blooming plant most commonly known for large lily-like petals and a tall, sturdy stem. Easy to plant and easy to care for, the Amaryllis blooms indoors but would not be able to survive outdoors during winter.

 

 

ist1_2425192-red-poinsettia-on-whitePoinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima: widely available, and very commonly used for holiday decorating, the poinsettia is know for its bright red flower-like leaves, which are called “brachts.” While being famous for the bright red color, Poinsettias are also available in a variety of colors, ranging from peach to blue to white, however the red color is still the most popular.

ChristmasCactus

 

Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera bridesii: a year-round blooming plant, the Christmas Cactus can survive in both low and intense light. Blooms range in color from yellow to fuchsia to white.

 

 

paperwhites

 

Paperwhites, Narcissus papyraceus: bright white and fragrant, the Paperwhite is an easy to plant and easy to grow flower. Set the bulbs in a stone and water container for a simple display.

Paperwhite image via Jackson & Perkins

Pinecone image courtesy of cbenjasuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make a Pinecone Bird Seed Ornament

Pinecone Bird Seed Ornaments are perfect for decorating your outdoor holiday tree and make awesome gifts for garden lovers! Collect the following items to create your own!

Using the Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® Twine, tie a knot around the pinecone about three sections from the top. Create a loop of twine and attach to the same spot on the pinecone. On the paper plate place a large glob of peanut butter. Using the butter knife fill in the spaces of the pinecone with peanut butter.

On the paper plate pour birdseed and roll the peanut butter covered pinecone around. Cover the pinecone in birdseed and sprinkle extra over it to take place in the cracks and crevices.

Your Pinecone Ornament is now ready to hang outside or to be given as a gift! If you plan to gift these ornaments you will want to place it in a cellophane bag and secure the top with ribbon.

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Avant Garden Decor’s Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are here and gift giving is in full swing! Tackle your to-give list using Avant Garden Décor’s Holiday Gift Guide! When shopping our gift guide simply click on the “buy now” button to add the product to your cart! Don’t forget to save, too! Use code AGDGIFT15 at checkout to save 15% on all Gift Guide products!

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Winter Prepping Your Garden

Winter is quickly approaching, but that doesn’t mean your garden needs to close down for months. Prepping it for colder weather and knowing which plants to bring indoors, and which can be planted to thrive in low temperatures, will allow you to exercise your green thumb well past fall.

How to Prep Your Garden for Winter

Although activity above the soil may have slowed down considerably a lot is happening below the mulch. Roots continue to grow and draw on nutrients in the soil. Compost that was applied continues to break down and decompose.

To get your flower beds ready for dropping temperature and potentially heavy snow cut back perennials, as well as any dead or diseased leaves from trees, shrubs, and foliage. After expelling any “dead stuff,” lay a thick layer of compost on the soil to continue feeding root systems until next growing season.

Young or tender evergreens should be shielded from the sun and damaging, harsh winter wins. Place burlap screens around them to help them get through the tough winter months. To learn more about creating screens check out this blog post at LoveYourYard.com!

Winter Wheat Growing

What exactly is winter wheat? Winter wheat is a crop planted in the fall that is used primarily for all-purpose, pastry and cake flowers. Typically winter wheat sprouts before freezing occurs and them remains dormant until soil warms in early spring.

Plant winter wheat in the fall about six to eight weeks before the soil in your region freezes. This time frame allows for good root development: plant too early and your plants could be susceptible to late summer insects, plant too late and the plants may not overwinter well.

Winter wheat can be planted in rows like crops and should be rototilled into the soil about 2.5 inches deep. Wheat plants will change colors from green to yellow to brown as they mature.

The heads of the wheat stalks will become heavy with grains and will lean toward the ground when they are full. To see if they are ready to harvest you can test a few grains yourself. Chew a few grains from your plant to see what their consistency is. Soft and doughy grains are premature and need more time to mature. Continually check the grains until they are firm and crunchy at which time you can harvest your crops.

To harvest your winter wheat simply cut off the heads of the stems. Small amounts can be stored in plastic bags in the freezer, but larger amounts need to be stored to minimize moisture. You can use a flourmill to ground the grains into fine flour that can be used for cooking. Store ground flour in airtight containers in a cool location.

Bringing Plants Indoors

Container plants can be brought inside during the winter to increase their rate of survival. Moving plants indoors should be done gradually as a sudden change in temperature, light, and environment can be detrimental to the plants.

Begin by bringing plants indoors for a few hours every day and place them where you intend to keep them in the winter. After about two weeks, the plants should be acclimated to their new surroundings and can stay there until weather becomes warmer. Plants should be brought indoors full-time before the threat of frost is present.

Small insects can travel indoors with your plants and should be combatted head on. Use an organic insect killer like Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap to kill bugs before they are able to make your home their winter residence.

Controlling Fall Pests and Critters

There are a couple of fall pests and critters we should be aware of so that our garden and outdoor living areas don’t become home to unwanted visitors. Stink bugs, grubs, and deer are all present during this season change and should be handled accordingly.

Stink bugs – a smelly pest that can reproduce exponentially in a short amount of time. Safer® Brand EndALL helps to eliminate these bugs by killing them on contact. Using a trap like the Safer® Brand Stink Bug Magnet will catch the bugs without the use of poisons.

Grubs – dead spots on your lawn is a clue that grubs are present on your property. As the larval stage of many insects, grubs feed on root systems and kill the plants and grass they support. Safer® Brand Grub Killer uses Neem oil to organically and effectively eliminate your grub problem.

Deer – these large animals can clear a garden quickly as well as create damage to trees by raking off the bark and eating the leaves. A repellant like Deer Off® II Deer, Rabbit & Squirrel Repellent will help to keep deer from chewing on your crops. You may also choose to employ a tall fence, at least 6 feet high, to keep deer from raiding your gardens.

Composting Through the Winter

The waste you create through the winter can be composted to help your garden in the spring and summer. Composting, nature’s recycling process, converts your old scraps and “natural trash” into a nutrient rich treat for your garden. In addition to providing a nutrient boost to soil, compost helps combat plant disease.

There are two basic sources to create compost: old plant material or waste from our daily life. Dead plants can be thrown away or they can continue serving your purpose by being composted. Compost needs a good mixture of “green stuff” and “brown stuff.” Green stuff is high in nitrogen and is the heating agent for your compost and gets the mixture cooking. The brown stuff, which is high in carbon, helps the compost break down. Dead plants, fall leaves, and dead weeds all serve well for compost. (Learn more with our infographic here).

An alternative way to collect materials for your compost is to look at everyday life and what you throw away. Materials that are organic and are not animal-based can be tossed in with the dead plants and leaves to provide additional nutrients. Consider using the following:

  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grinds
  • Food scraps
  • Tea bags (be sure to remove the staple)
  • Stale bread or crackers
  • Paper bags
  • Toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls

Getting your compost pile started is easier than you may think. You can place your compost ready materials in a container or you can start a mound in a specific area of your garden. Applying a compost starter product, like Ringer® Compost Plus Organic Compost Starter, will kick-start your composting process. This product supplies additional nutrient resources that start the compost process more quickly and efficiently.

After applying your starter product be sure to water your materials so they are about as wet as a damp sponge. To maintain your compost regularly apply materials to it as you have them available. Aerate your compost pile every 7-10 days by raking through it with a pitchfork or spade. To learn more about composting and making it work for your garden check out our infographic here.

Storing Your Garden Tools

Garden tools, although they require an investment, they are worth it because they allow you to do a better job in the garden in less time. Proper care for your garden tools will allow them to serve you for a longer period of time.

When you are finished with a majority of your tools for the summer you can prep them for winter storage. Clean your tools with warm soap and water and allow them to fully dry.  To ward off rust, spray them with a light oil or lubricant like WD-40 before storing them. You may choose to have blades or spikes sharpened at your local hardware store so they are in great condition for the next season, too.

Keep tools with wooden handles in a cool, dry place so the wood does not become moldy and contaminated. Your shed, garage, or basement are all great options to keep your garden tools when you’re not using them.

What’s Next? 

Although it can be sad to “close down” your garden for the winter, it is not really the end. It is just a more dormant period where you are able to allow your garden to work underneath the ground and have a rest. Send us your photos of garden clean-up on our Facebook page! What tips do you have to help the gardening community?