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Ditch the Bug Zappers, Try This Instead

It’s summer, your garden is blooming, and you are anxious to host weekend outdoor parties and show off your beautiful patio and yard, but… you live in an area where mosquitoes are like vicious sharks, seemingly waiting in the air to attack. Perhaps you have tried those noisy bug zappers that annoyingly let you know every time they annihilate a flying pest (some of which are not bad pests, either).  Between the annoyance and guilt, it may be time to try something more natural to keep the unwanted guests from crashing your party. Here are a few great options.

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3 Annual Flower Window Box Ideas For a Beautiful View and Tips For Success

Whether you live in the city, suburbia, or the country, window boxes add beauty, texture, color, charm, and even drama to your view. Adding window boxes brings flowers and foliage to eye level, which offers a different perspective than having them in your garden. From inside your home, plants create a lush view to the outdoors that can brighten your day no matter how gloomy the weather. And from the outside, plants and window boxes provide curb appeal that becomes part of the architecture. Here are three ideas for a beautiful view.

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7 Tips for Beautiful Hydrangeas

Renowned for their lush, eye-catching blooms, hydrangeas add old-fashioned charm to any garden. You might think hydrangeas are high maintenance. But surprisingly, they need little care. With a few tips, your hydrangeas will thrive in a variety of conditions. So, if you’re looking for a stunning garden flower, with large globes of colorful blossoms, then hydrangeas are the perennials for you!  Here are seven tips for beautiful hydrangeas.

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Think Flowers are Just for Show? Think Again

Flowers add beauty to the environment, but the colorful blossoms may have added benefits that you haven’t considered. Many familiar flowers are edible, and they’re often chock full of flavor and nutrients.

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Becoming a Mindful Gardener Amidst a World in Chaos

When an envelope of chaos surrounds your life, it is important to know that your garden can be a place of refreshment, renewal, and hope. It can be a safe place where you can be still and become one with the natural world around you. This is a good thing. We often trip on our thoughts, on fear, and on the what if’s. In the garden, you can be still, content, and soak in the beauty that surrounds you. When you become a mindful gardener, you have arrived at a place that allows you to escape the chaos of the world and just be.

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5 Ways to Create a Beautiful Edible Garden

There has long been an incorrect assumption in the garden community that ornamental plants are the only ones that can look good, while vegetables and fruits are strictly for practical purposes. Essentially the opposite of a mullet, gardens are viewed as “party in the front, business in the back”. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a large front yard for flowers and ornamental purposes and a spacious backyard that can be reserved for edible crops, however. And some people feel like they have to choose one or the other…practicaltiy or beauty. Thankfully, recent breakthroughs have turned this misconception on its head, and a new practice is rising in popularity…edible landscaping.

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What to Plant in a West-Facing Garden

Finding the right flowers or vegetables to plant on the west side of your house can be a real challenge. The morning sun is blocked, which means that your plants have to be able to withstand a little shade, but they will also be exposed to direct, hot sunlight in the afternoon. Stick to plants that can grow in full sun to partial shade. If you’re at a loss for what to plant in this tricky section of your garden, this helpful list could give you some ideas. 

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The One Herb Everyone Should Grow Now

During these uncertain times, fear and anxiety for the future are commonplace. If you’re struggling to relax and find that you can’t unwind, it may be time to plant a lovely, aromatic patch of chamomile in your herb garden to help ease your worries. Here’s why we love this useful herb and how you can grow some today. 

Roman vs. German chamomile

There are two types of chamomile, so it is important to understand exactly what you are planting. German chamomile produces long, flimsy stems and tons of delicate white flowers that look very similar to daisies. This is the variety that is most frequently used for tea and tinctures since it produces an abundance of blooms. Roman chamomile is usually used as a fast-spreading groundcover to fill in holes in your garden and provide a nice, fragrant element.

Both varieties are technically annuals but will reseed and spread with vigor, allowing them to come back every year, so keep that in mind before you choose a planting spot. German chamomile will add a beautiful pop of white to any kitchen herb garden, and it is a great plant to have on hand. For the rest of this article, we will be referring to the German Chamomile variety as it is the best herb for various kitchen and beauty uses.

Why you should grow it

Chamomile isn’t just a fragrant, attractive addition to your herb garden. It can be used for a wide variety of tinctures and tonics that can help ease insomnia, reduce anxiety, and help even help reduce inflammation and menstrual pain. 

During these stressful times, chamomile may be just the herb you need to help relieve some of that pent of fear and anxiety. Plus, if you are experiencing digestive issues due to excess stress or an altered diet, chamomile could help alleviate stomach discomfort, gas, and bloating. 

If you have a little extra time on your hands due to lockdown or decreased work hours, why not consider making some DIY healthy and beauty products with this soothing herb. Chamomile is often included in many personal care products due to its anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing properties. Combine it with oatmeal for ultimate nourishment and exfoliation. 

How to grow

Start seeds indoors under a grow light about six to eight weeks before your last expected frost date. This will give the seedlings time to grow and will help give them a good start for transplanting into your garden. Lightly tamp down the seeds into your growing medium and mist with water to avoid disturbing the seeds.  

Once all danger of frost has passed, transplant seedlings to the garden, leaving a space of about eight to twelve inches between plants. Water thoroughly when planting, making sure that your soil is well-draining and has been amended with organic compost. Like many other herbs, chamomile thrives when left to its own devices. Water frequently until the seedlings put down roots and then only occasionally to let the roots dry out slightly between waterings. In just a few weeks, you should see your first blooms developing on the spindly, green stems. 

Since chamomile is so hardy, it doesn’t require any fertilizer and will grow strong and tall with very minimal care. Plus, it doesn’t attract many pests or diseases, which makes it a wonderful “leave it and forget it” herb.

Harvest 

Once the flower petals begin to curl downward, cut off the flowers and lay them on a mesh surface to dry. Chamomile leaves tend to be bitter and unappealing, so once your cut off the flowers, trim the stalks to about six inches above the ground. Leave the spent stalks on the ground as they will decompose quickly and add essential nutrients back into the soil.

Though you can use fresh flowers for tea, drying this useful herb will let it last longer, and you won’t need as many flowers since the flavor will be more concentrated. Keep the flowers spread out for about a week in a cool, dry place and store in a glass jar or airtight bag for use in the kitchen.

Making tea

One of the best ways to reap all of the amazing benefits of chamomile is to brew a nice, aromatic cup of relaxing tea. Measure out about two tablespoons of dried flowers for every eight-ounce cup of tea you wish to make. Boil water and pour it over the flowers, letting it steep for about five minutes. Then strain through a fine, tea sieve. Feel free to add any of your favorite herbs, such as mint, to mix up the flavor a little bit. You can also use local raw, honey, for sweetener, lemon for a bit of zing, or a little creamer for a wonderful nighttime drink. 

-Susan Patterson

How to Grow Perfect Peonies Like Your Grandmother

Peonies remind me of my grandparents and my mother, who always had these beautiful anchor flowers in their gardens. My mother even had an offspring of one of her father’s best peony plants right outside of our living room window. Not only can peonies continue to grow and bloom for over 100 years, but they have a unique vintage look and feel that makes them such a joy to grow.

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How to Have Great Success With Arugula

Isn’t it wonderful that we can grow an abundance of delicious and nutritious leafy greens in a small space? In fact, arugula, the slightly bitter and spicy leafy green grows exceptionally well in a container. As a bonus, if you don’t pick your arugula, it will grow beautiful flowers that you can harvest and eat right along with the greens. Here are some tips to help you successfully grow arugula in a container as well as in your garden.

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Top Perennials for Floridians

If you live in Florida, you’ve likely experienced the unexpected difficulty of trying to start a perennial garden. While it may seem like everything should grow in abundance in such a lush environment, the humidity and heat actually create a unique tropical climate unlike that of any other state, making it a challenge to find the perfect plants for your home garden. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite perennials that are specifically suited for the sunshine state that will help your garden flourish.

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