Posts Tagged ‘plants’

Gardening: Your Backyard Oasis

Friday, May 29th, 2020

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How would you like to create a backyard oasis? Everyone needs more of nature, and gardening is calming for your body and mind. When you sit on your porch, what do you see? With a little effort and a few tips, I will show you how to improve your outdoor space.

Gardening: Your Backyard Oasis (video demonstration)

Make a beautiful haven where you can sit and pray or think about life, and get away from it all. I started filming this video near the end of April, and now it’s the end of May. So I show the progression of the backyard, awakening from the winter, and blooming into the spring and summer.

We also hung lights around the backyard deck for the first time, changing the atmosphere in the evenings to a festive experience, which I will show you by the end of the video.

Vegetable Garden Tips

The first tip for vegetable gardens is to have raised beds so that you can dump really good soil into them. When I first moved into this property 20 years ago, I didn’t know that the soil was not good for growing anything. Not only was it too sandy with rocks (look at the dirt that I’m sitting on in the video), but the 23 pine trees on our property make the soil acidic. Furthermore, most of my backyard is in shade because of the trees.

I love the fact that my backyard looks like the woods. But eventually I realized that the only way to improve my yard was to grow mostly shaded plants. Tip #2 for a vegetable garden, then, is to try to find a place where there is sun. We finally found a place (that used to be a dirt pile) to the right of our deck.

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Last year we only had one raised bed, as you can see in the picture below. I didn’t know how large the plants would grow, so I overcrowded it. For this reason, even though there were lots of leaves, the plants didn’t produce much fruit.

So tip #3 for a vegetable garden is not to overcrowd the plants. Leave space between the plants. Then the roots won’t be competing for the nutrients in the soil with any other plants, and the sun can shine on all the leaves of each plant.

Tip #4 would be to give the vegetable garden a good watering every day, especially when the plants are young.

Tip #5 is to have tomato cages for the tomatoes, and if you are growing beans or other vines, place the raised bed next to a fence so they have something to crawl up. Next year I might add a third bed next to the chain link fence just for this purpose. This year all I needed was the tomato cages to re-enforce the stems of the tomato plants, so they don’t topple over or break with the wind.

Tip #6 is to pick off any dead leaves that you see. This keeps the plants healthy.

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Perennial Garden Tips

At the beginning, the perennial garden didn’t look like much. When removing the pine needles and dead leaves, we saw a few green perennials coming up. (Perennials are flowers that come up year after year.) We trimmed the bushes, pulled some weeds, and amended with good soil. After a month of watering the garden, it looked beautiful!

This perennial garden is right outside the bay window of my dining room, so it can be enjoyed every time we sit down to eat a meal.

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Rose Garden Tips

My rose garden is in the front yard, but I thought I would include it in the gardening that we do. I show you in the video how to prune the rose bushes after uncovering them from the winter. We also put rose fertilizer on each bush. Roses are my favorite flower, so I really love this garden!

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The back porch looks lovelier this year than ever, since my husband hung lights on poles bolted down to blocks of cement. (I show you a close-up of the base of these poles in the video.) My husband placed a hook on the top of each pole, and strung white lights. It feels like I am in Europe, where I traveled and lived before I was married. It makes me feel so much joy!

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Here are some other gardening posts you might like:

Growing a Sweet Potato in Water

Monday, May 27th, 2013

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Growing a sweet potato in water is a great way to see plant roots growing. You will need a sweet potato, a jar, water, and four toothpicks.

You will want to dip the sweet potato into the water about a third of the way down. Stab the toothpicks into the potato to keep it in place. Fill the jar with water. Now watch the roots grow right in front of your very eyes.

First you will see stubble, like a man who hasn’t shaved in a couple of days. This happens within the first few days. Then a few of the roots grow longer, branching out with root hairs. Since the jar is clear, you can see all this happening.

Other people buy expensive kits that have glass walls on either side so that you can see the roots of carrots and radishes growing, but the dirt is still in the way. With growing a sweet potato in water, you can see the root developing without any dirt in the way, and it doesn’t cost a lot.

growing-a-sweet-potato-in-water-2In biology this year, we studied the sections of a root, looking at the root under a microscope. The children were fascinated when they looked at prepared slides of monocot and dicot roots, which apparently have a different structure. Monocot roots have a circle shape in the middle, whereas dicots have an X shape.

The main way to know if a plant is monocot or dicot is to look at its leaves. If the leaves are straight up and down like leaves of grass, it’s a monocot. If the leaf has veins branching out, it’s a dicot.

You can see all the other activities we did in biology this year in the Unit Study Treasure Vault.

Linked to Laugh and Learn

Botanical Gardens and Conservatory

Friday, April 27th, 2012

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One of my favorite places to go in the spring is to my local botanical gardens. My children enjoy seeing the buds come out on the trees and the sprigs of green pushing up out of the soil. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and it feels good to breathe in the fresh air after a long winter.

A large pond with waterfowl is surrounded by weeping willows and pink blooming hawthorn trees. My husband and I saw an osprey swoop down and catch a fish out of the water, later settling into the high branch of a tree. My children tried to touch the ducks, who soon ran away, realizing we had not brought any bread. We walked around the pond, pausing as the children noticed new birds or plants. I held my husband’s hand and smiled.

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Our botanical gardens include a conservatory, which is an indoor garden with glass windows. This garden is already profusely growing in all directions because it has survived the winter, probably with air climate control. A couple of short bridges cross an artificial stream, which begins with a low waterfall. The sound of the splashing waterfall is tranquil and lovely. Orchids thrive in all their elegant beauty, along with many other types of flowers and cacti. Plants overlap the path low to the ground, and more flowers cascade off the trees overhead. The conservatory almost makes you feel like you’re in a jungle.

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A Japanese garden is carefully manicured, with clipped trees and bushes that remind you of bonzai trees. A medium-sized pond holds large fish swimming around, and a waterfall completes the scene. A few benches intersperse the beautiful enclosed landscape. This would be a perfect place to sit, sketch, and watercolor nature. The trees, plants, and shrubs are reflected peacefully in the water of the pond.

To enjoy more pictures of the botanical gardens, click here.

The Wonder of Spring

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

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Watch my children as they squeal with joy at the wonder of spring. Why not grab your camera and do the same? Try to get close-ups of green plants peeking up out of the soil, new buds on branches, and birds preparing their nests!