Category Archives: Homesteading/Self-Sufficiency Articles

Home Garden Greenhouse Maintenance Tips

By Jill Hogan

Many gardening enthusiasts look forward to winter when they can rest right along with their gardens! That leaves the hard core gardeners who depend on their home garden greenhouses to feed their gardening addiction even during the cold winter months.

The walls and ceilings of greenhouse structures are usually made of glass, plastic or the newer polycarbonate materials. The structure must create a stable environment regardless of what’s going on outside – even when the temperatures drop, the snow falls, and the wind howls. Inside, the home garden greenhouse needs to maintain a warm, suitable atmosphere that simulates the plants’ normal growing conditions.

Creating an environment that protects the plants from extreme heat or cold, does require a bit of work. Now it’s nothing too laborious but does require ongoing maintenance to successfully care for your plants. Here are four maintenance tips suggested for home garden greenhouses:

1. Plants need to be in a heat regulated environment so check the inside temperatures regularly. That means more heat is needed when the outside temperatures fall below 0° than when they sit steadily at 20°. Programmable electric portable heaters are available if power is available inside the structure or alternative sources of fuel should be considered. Also, some bright sunny winter days can really increase the inside temp in the greenhouse. You’ll probably need at least one window that will open to provide a bit of ventilation even if it’s just for a few minutes.

2. Plants need to be watered so make sure you have access or a ready supply. Some home garden greenhouses are equipped with a faucet and water supply. Otherwise, you’ll need to run a garden hose from the house or containers of water should be available for watering and providing the necessary humidity. Check the hoses and the water lines – you don’t want them to freeze and burst!

3. Plants need to have adequate light so add artificial light if there isn’t enough natural sunlight. Southern exposure is critical for plants during the winter to maximize the available light and positioning of the sun. Greenhouses can be built next to another structure (commonly called “lean to” greenhouses), or they may be stand-alone structures. When selecting a location for all home garden greenhouses, try to avoid long shadows cast by other buildings or trees that will minimize or even obstruct the light.

4. Plants need to be continuously protected, even when accidents or treacherous conditions occur. So be prepared with a back-up. Regularly checking the structure is a must. Keep a supply of replacement materials on hand just in case of damage caused by weather – such as hail breaking out a pane of glass, heavy wet snow compromising the structure supports, or even wind blowing or ripping the heavy plastic.

Don’t be intimidated by these basic maintenance suggestions. After all, home garden greenhouses allow the gardening enthusiast to enjoy a continuous growing season regardless of what’s happening outside. The gardener just needs to be prepared to proactively create and maintain the correct conditions inside the gardening haven.

Jill Hogan is a gardening enthusiast who loves to find unique garden gifts and share her gardening tips. For more about home garden greenhouses or to find the perfect garden gift that fits any budget, check out her garden and gift ideas at http://www.GreatGardeningGifts.com.

For more great tips on greenhouse gardening, from how to build to how to grow to how to EVERYTHING,  consider buying Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion, Revised: Growing Food & Flowers in Your Greenhouse or Sunspace.  Thanks for supporting Frugal-Families.

Strawberry Care- Fall actions for spring success

By Hans Dekker

Contrary to popular belief  the success of your spring and summer strawberry harvest is largely dependent on good care in Autumn. In autumn you lay the basis for a successful strawberry fruit production. It doesn’t really matter if you have an established strawberry patch have been active just one season.  Talking from experience many gardeners will tell you this is a pretty good example of the 80/20 rule.

Here are a few tips to improve the yield and even the taste of your strawberries next spring:

Yearly renovation is an important part of caring for June-bearing strawberries. If you are growing this variety in matted rows, you should begin season-end plant care by renovating the bed after the harvest. Just in time renovation keeps your strawberry bed productive for three to four years.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

After harvest, mow foliage to within an inch of the strawberry crowns, remove all clippings. Clean the patch to keep it free bed free of all discarded plant matter

Although some gardeners may advise you to rake or till disease-free clippings into the soil, in addition to harboring disease, clippings from renovation may contain weed seeds. For that reason it’s best to keep your strawberry beds free of all discarded plant matter.

  • remove any remaining weeds and narrowing your rows to six to twelve inches wide.
  • thin your strawberry plants, retaining only strong healthy specimens, with about four to six inches between plants.
  • keep your the bed moist, but not wet, to promote new growth for next year.

Although strawberries do well in areas that have some cool weather, frost is disastrous to your strawberry bed. A basic part of caring for this plant is to protect it with a layer of mulch during the winter. As well as protecting your strawberries from killing frosts, a three to four inch layer of hay or straw will provide even temperatures to protect them from the possibility of refreezing after an early spring or mid-winter thaw.

Don’t mulch with fallen leaves since leaves tend to compact and will smother new growth in your strawberry bed.

Although many cultivators of strawberries are hardy to 15 Fahrenheit (-10C), mulch should be applied before the temperature dips to 20F (-6C) to protect buds and new growth from killing frosts. Do be sure all growth has stopped before you mulch. Otherwise, the crowns may decay. Winter mulch should be left in place until the first signs of spring growth.

Then, remove just enough to let the growth come through. Your winter strawberry care is finished and you are ready for a fruitful growing season! When you are interested in getting the most of from your fruit trees, plants and bushes you will find a lot information at our site.

Hans is writing for gardening-guides.com he loves growing cooking herbs and small fruits like strawberry pots and the blueberries. Apart from growing he also loves to write and talk about it. Find more of his tips at http://www.gardening-guides.com/

Late Summer-Early Fall Gardening and Yard Care Tips

By Charles Bellman, writer for Mantis.

Here are some useful gardening and yard care tips for late summer and early fall:

1. Continue to weed your garden often to stay ahead of weeds. Weeds can spread very quickly during the late summer, and they’ll rob your plants of both nutrition and water. Pull weeds when the soil is moist and the weeds are small. Early morning weeding sessions after an overnight rainfall can be very efficient.

2. Take pictures while your garden is fully grown. They’ll help you remember what you planted, and where. Crop rotation is a good practice that helps reduce diseases and the effects of some pests. If your tomato plants or annual flowers are too crowded, use these photos to remind you of proper spacing next season.

3. Make some notes. This is an ideal time to set up a gardening notebook or a PC file. Note what worked well, what you’d like to do better, what you’d like to learn before next season, and any tools or supplies you might need for next season.

4. Harvest squash and beans before they get too big. If you have extras, and choose not to can or freeze your bounty for later use, find a way to share it. Many food pantries and churches will accept fresh produce for distribution to those in need.

5. If you don’t already have a compost bin or pile, now is a great time to start! You’ll soon have finished tomato plants and other garden leftovers. Areas with a lot of deciduous trees will soon be covered with falling leaves. Composting is easy with the help of a composter!

6. Make a plan to collect as many fall leaves as you can easily compost or store. If you collect more than your compost bin or pile can handle, store dry, shredded leaves in large garbage cans or bags. Shred them with a shredder or a lawn mower; make sure that you keep them dry during storage. The shredded leaves can be used next season to mulch vegetable gardens, and they can provide the necessary “brown” material that your compost needs when it can be overwhelmed with “green” materials.

7. As fall approaches, avoid the temptation to prune… except large, overlapping branches that might break under the stress of snow or wind. Pruning always encourages new growth and should be avoided as winter approaches. New, tender branches are much more susceptible to winter damage.

8. Aerate and Dethatch your lawn if it needs it. The very dry summer that many of us have experienced has resulted in abnormally high thatch build-up. Aerate and dethatch your lawn at least 6 weeks prior to the end of its growing season, so that it will have time to recover before winter dormancy.

9. Continue to add mulch to your flower and vegetable gardens throughout the season. A combination of shredded dry leaves and grass clippings is our favorite. The leaves help prevent the grass clippings from matting, and the grass clippings help prevent the leaves from blowing away. Mulch helps suppress weeds and also keeps your soil retain moisture. As mulch decomposes, it will boost your soil’s tilth and fertility.

10. Plan to clean up your gardens when they’re “done.” Not only are messy gardens an eyesore, but they’ll harbor more damaging insects and diseases. Clean up your vegetable and annual flower gardens before the ground freezes and you’ll be ready to get off to a clean start next season.

To learn more about composting, click here.

How LED Growing Lights Make Indoor Gardening A Breeze

It is best to have a growing system in your greenhouse or home which is versatile; easy to arrange and maneuver around, as this is important when you are involved with indoor growing. Typically, the LED growing lights are specially designed to perform exactly how you want them to ensure that your gardening is a success.

This kind of lighting is made to only generate a particular amount of light which plants require for growth. There are different varieties of lighting colors and they all boast unique properties. These lights tend to be low voltage and use a smaller amount power to generate additional lighting. This extra energy will save money and is also beneficial for the natural environment.

These kinds of lights stay longer when compared with standard light bulbs. Some manufacturers provide an estimated life-span close to 50,000 hours, which means it is possible to use the lights for eighteen hours daily over seven years without replacing.

Nowadays, significantly more individuals are planning to start or seem to be already involved with indoor gardening. It’s impossible to control elements of weather, yet people may preserve an indoor area at a continuous temperature that is totally free of the arbitrary weather conditions which we occasionally experience.

This kind of light is likewise much cooler to touch. What this means is that they may be utilized in growing various plants at varied phases of growth alongside one another. The older and more durable plants, such as vegetables which are fully matured, can be positioned close to more delicate plants, such as flowers, during the early stages of growth.

Due to the fact LED growing lights function at significantly lower temperatures, they are able to conserve lots of money that would be spent for air conditioning. The requirement to reduce the temperature inside the growing room is also substantially reduced with the use of these lighting rather than their hotter counterparts, which provides another way to save money and also lower the presence of carbon.

For more great tips on the benefits of LED Growing Lights visit http://www.ledgrowinglights.co/the-advantages-of-led-growing-lights/

Preparing Your Garden For Winter

Many people tend to think that once the first frost arrives, they won’t have to worry about the garden until the next spring. No more pulling weeds, hoeing, digging, pruning, watering or raking. The truth is, the idea that the gardening is over once you pull that last carrot or snip that last rose, is completely wrong. If you put some time in during the fall to do a little cleaning, maintenance and planning, you can save yourself lot of work when gardening season rolls around next spring.

Chores for Early Autumn

In early autumn remove the any dead flowers and leaves from rose bushes and clean any debris from around the base of the plants. Rotting plant material left on the ground around plants can contain diseases or other plant pests that can survive the winter and infest plants in the spring.

As summer flowers fade add some fall color to your home and garden with hardy plants such as mums, flowering cabbage, or marigolds. The traditional autumn celebrations can also be a time to add some extra color in the form of pumpkins, gourds or dried corn. Just because the warm weather has ended doesn’t mean you have to give up color around the exterior of your home or in your garden.

This is the time to prepare the ground for next year’s plants. Many people like to till their vegetable gardens in the fall in order to get a head start on next spring. The same applies for flower beds by spading up the soil and adding fertilizer.

Purchase your fall bulbs now. Dig out all those gardening catalogs and order bulbs for fall planting or check your local garden or farm store for a wide variety of bulbs that will give you some great color in early spring.

If you want to do some landscaping, early fall is the perfect time. Shrubs and perennials planted in early autumn will have time to establish their root systems before the really cold weather sets in. Plus in many areas where rain is common in the fall, the plants will get plenty of moisture without having to constantly water them.

Things to Do in Mid Fall

As autumn progresses and all the leaves are finally off the trees, it’s time to bring out the rakes. Raking leaves may not be your favorite pastime but don’t be tempted to leave them on your lawn or garden because they can harbor insects and encourage the growth of mold and mildew. The leaf decay can also mat down and choke out the grass and you’ll end up with brown spots on your lawn. So rake up the leaves and put them in the compost bin or even till them into the garden.

Put out some bird feeders for your feathered friends. They’ve worked hard all year keeping the insects out of your garden and food can be scarce for the birds in late fall so show your appreciation and keep a few feeders filled with their favorite seeds.

Getting Ready for Winter

Once you’ve done your cleaning, raking and preparing lunch for the birds, it’s time to give some attention to your garden tools before you put them away. Clean of any dirt or rust with a wire brush and rub on a little oil to protect them over the winter and hang in a dry place such as your garage or garden shed. If you live in one of the colder climates with freezing winter temperatures, don’t forget to turn off the water to the outside faucet and drain the pipe. Also drain the garden hoses, roll them up and place along side your garden tools.

It’s true that preparing your garden for winter can be a bit of extra work, but if you do it now you’ll have a lot less to do in the spring and that will give you a head start on having the best garden in the neighborhood.

Tori works for Your Home Supply (YHS) the definitive website for home improvement tools, and gardening supplies. Your Home Supply offers a wide range of gardening tools [http://www.yourhomesupply.com/c-44-specialty-hand-tools.aspx] and garden carts to help you prepare your garden for the long cold winter.