Tilling a Garden – How to Till a Garden
November 12th, 2010
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If you are tilling a garden area for the first time, the first step is to kill the grass and weeds in that area.
You must know how to till a garden before you begin.
Some people recommend tilling a garden without first killing the grass and weeds. They suggest tilling the vegetation into the soil. I have found that weeds and grass are a constant problem if you follow that method.
One way to kill the vegetation is to lay a heavy tarp over the entire garden area. You will need to leave the tarp down for several weeks so that all vegetation is killed.
In tilling a garden, another way to accomplish this is to spray the area with some type of weed and grass killer. This will work faster than the tarp methods.
There is a negative side to spraying particularly if you are planting vegetables. You probably don’t want the chemicals of the spray to affect the soil that is growing the food you will be eating.
Don’t use a chemical spray for flower gardens if you want an organic garden.
After most of the vegetation has been killed, remove any weeds or grass that is still growing. Do this by digging it up and shaking the dirt off the vegetation. Dispose of any weeds or grass.
Now your garden area is ready for tilling. This is the time to determine the best way of tilling a garden. This depends a lot on your physical condition and the size of your garden.
Tilling a garden for the first time with a garden tiller is a fairly rough job. But it is much easier than doing it manually. Using a tiller, you can dig down into the soil at least 6 inches. A garden tiller does a great job of making the soil soft and fine.
Tilling a garden manually is very labor intensive. It requires using a shovel to dig down and turn the soil over for the entire area of the garden. Then you must break up clods of dirt. This can be done using the backside of the rake and hitting the clods.
This is backbreaking work. But if you are relatively young and physically fit, it can certainly be done. I have personally done a lot of this manual labor. I was always happy to reach the end of the job.
Tilling a garden can be done in the late fall or early spring. Tilling in the fall is absolutely necessary in order to prepare the garden for the next spring. Freezing and thawing of the soil during the winter months will break the soil down even more and leave it in better shape for next year’s planting.
In the spring, the tilling job is much easier. But you must add nutrients to the soil such as compost, peat moss, manure, etc. Of course, these nutrients are mixed much better in the soil using a garden tiller.
The bottom line? You must know how to till a garden before you begin.
How to Determine the Best of the Garden Tillers on the Market (Part 3)
October 29th, 2010
Deciding whether to own a garden tiller is one of the many flower garden ideas you need to consider.
The first two posts on this topic have pointed out the things I think you should consider before deciding to research garden tillers. In this post, I tell you what my experience has been using garden tillers vs. tilling a garden manually. I also talk about a specific tiller that could possibly meet your needs.
For what it is worth, I will tell you my own situation.
At times, I have owned a garden tiller. At other times, I have not. When I did not own a tiller, I disliked doing that work manually with a shovel. I was much younger then. But I still found that type of work very tedious and backbreaking.
I later bought a garden tiller. I absolutely loved it. Tilling a garden was not always easy work. But it was much easier than manual labor and did a powerful job.
My tiller was very heavy. Pulling it from my garage to the garden was a difficult task. Pulling it back to the garage after a long period of tilling was even tougher. It was always a big relief after I got it back to the garage. It also took up a fair amount of storage space.
I had a huge garden area in Connecticut. I used it primarily to grow vegetables. That is when I purchased my garden tiller. I must say that I could not have done my gardening chores without it.
But since those years in Connecticut, my gardens have been smaller. My storage area was smaller. Having such a large tiller made no sense.
The Mantis garden tiller may meet the needs of the senior gardener.
My Mantis tiller is perfect for me. It does a powerful job for me every time I use it. It is unbelievably light. It is easy to carry it from my garage to my garden. It’s just as easy to carry it back. I don’t know about you. But this is very important to me. Storage of the Mantis tiller in my garage is absolutely no problem.
I know many senior gardeners who still enjoy maintaining an attractive backyard landscape. Using a shovel to do the tilling chore is too difficult.
But a Mantis tiller is the solution to their needs. It gets the job done for them but is light enough to easily manage.
My suggestion is to look at your personal situation and determine what you need. Don’t spend any extra money if you don’t have to.
If you need a garden tiller, don’t go the “over-kill” route. Don’t buy one that is more than you really need. But if you need a big one, get one. Just be prepared to pay a fairly large amount of money. Be willing to put in the effort taking it to your garden area and back.
I will say only this. I am very happy with my Mantis tiller.
How to Determine the Best of the Garden Tillers on the Market (Part 2)
October 28th, 2010
In the previous post, we discussed whether you actually need a garden tiller. In this post, I talk about some additional factors you need to think about before making a decision to buy a tiller. Whether to own a garden tiller should be one of the flower garden ideas you need to consider.
Here are some other factors to consider before making your decision.
What is the condition of your garden soil?
Soil should be in a light, loose, fine condition. If it is, preparing it for planting is fairly easy to prepare it for planting. On the other hand, heavier soils are difficult to prepare for planting if you only use a shovel.
How often would you use a garden tiller? If you would like to use a tiller a few times a year, then buying a garden tiller that meets your needs makes total sense.
Here is another question you must answer for yourself. Are you physically capable of manually using a shovel to do your tilling chores? If you are not and still want a garden tiller, there are some good light and effective alternatives to choose from.
If you have a small to medium sized garden area, there are moderately priced garden tillers to select. In addition, some of these are relatively lightweight.
What if your garden tiller only weighed from 20 to 30 pounds. What if it could be folded up so it could be easily carried and stored?
On the other hand, you may have a large garden area. It may be so large that manually working it with a shovel is out of the question. But your garden area may require more than a light tiller. It may require a large tiller. These tillers are much more expensive and are much heavier.
So the bottom line is that you must look at your own personal situation.
The first two posts have pointed out the things I think you should consider before deciding to research garden tillers. In the next post, I let you know what my experience has been with tillers over the years. I also discuss a specific brand of garden tiller that may meet your gardening needs.
How to Determine the Best of the Garden Tillers on the Market (Part 1)
October 27th, 2010
Choosing the best garden tillers is fairly straightforward. But there are several things to consider in making your selection. This is something you should think about in developing your flower garden ideas.
The first thing to consider is whether or not you even need a garden tiller. What chores would you use a tiller for? Do you need a tiller for these chores or can you do them manually with a shovel?
Here is a list of gardening chores that may required in tilling a garden
1. If you are beginning a new garden, you need to prepare the soil for planting. This requires turning over and breaking up the soil.
2. You need to uniformly mix nutrients into the soil.
3. During the growing season, you need to remove the weeds from your garden. Weeds compete with your flowers and vegetables for moisture.
4. At the end of the growing season, generally in the fall, you need to turn over the soil in your garden. The freezing and thawing of the soil during the winter months tend to further break it down. You want the soil to be as fine as possible when you begin planting the next year.
5. When spring arrives the following year, you will need to turn over the soil before planting. Additional nutrients should be mixed in with the existing soil.
This list of chores doesn’t take into account digging required for rose beds, shrubs, and trees. Garden tillers can be useful in achieving these chores.
So you must answer this question. Do you need to look into the best garden tillers to meet your needs? Or do you want to be tilling your garden manually using a shovel?
You must look at the size of your garden area. What is the condition of the soil? How often do you need a tiller?
If you have a small garden area, you probably don’t need a tiller. If possible, you can use a shovel to turn over the sod if you are starting a new garden. When you are mixing nutrients into the soil and getting the soil ready for planting, a shovel can probably do the job in this case.
In a small garden, most of the weeding can be done by hand. After all plants have died back in the fall and early winter, you can turn over the soil with a shovel.
But if you have a larger garden area, you should maybe consider garden tillers.
In my next post, I give you some additional factors to consider before choosing the best garden tiller for your needs.
Planting Bulbs for Spring Flowers – The Time is Now (Part 3)
October 23rd, 2010
In my previous 2 posts, I discussed planting bulbs for spring flowers. This is one of several excellent flower garden ideas. In this post, I suggest my favorite bulbs to plant.
My favorite spring flowering bulbs:
Tulip bulbs – Tulips are beautiful planted in a group. They come in many colors – red, yellow, pink, orange, white, purple, and bi-colored. They can grow in zones 3-7. They do not do well in warmer climates.
They bloom from mid to late spring. They should be planted at a depth of 5-8 inches depending on the size of the bulb. Spacing should be approximately 3 inches apart. Tulip bulbs do very well in beds and borders. Average height can vary from 6-16 inches depending on the variety.
Daffodil bulbs – These flowers are also called narcissus or jonquils. Daffodils come in many different colors, sizes, and shapes. Their primary colors are yellow, white, and bi-colored. They can be grown in zones 4-9.
Different varieties of daffodil bulbs bloom from very early spring to late spring. They should be planted at a depth of 8 inches. But some early varieties can be planted 5 inches deep. They should be spaced approximately 3 inches apart.
Average height can vary from 8-20 inches depending on the variety. They do very well in beds, borders, and woodland settings.
Hyacinth bulbs – Hyacinths bulbs grow best in zones 5-8. They don’t perform as well in warmer climates. Their flowers are in the form of clusters on a spike.
Colors include red, white, blue, purple, pink, yellow, and lavender. Hyacinths grow from 6 to 12 inches tall.
Crocus bulbs – The crocus bulb is sometimes classified as a corm. Crocus is one of the earliest blooming flowers in the spring. Colors include blue, yellow, white, and purple. Their foliage is grass-like.
Crocus bulbs can be planted at a depth of 5 inches. They should be spaced 1-2 inches apart. They do well in beds and woodland settings.
Anemone – There are many varieties of Anemone. They bloom in the early to mid spring. They have various colors including blue, white, and rose.
They should be planted 3-5 inches deep and 2-4 inches apart. They do very well in beds and woodland settings.
Planting bulbs for spring flowers is definitely one of my best flower garden ideas. Just remember that fall is the time to plant them.
Planting Bulbs for Spring Flowers – The Time is Now (Part 2)
October 22nd, 2010
In my previous post, I discussed planting bulbs for spring flowers. This is one of several excellent flower garden ideas. In this post, I talk more on this topic.
Bulb care after blooming
After your bulbs bloom in the spring, you must “deadhead” the dead flowers. This allows the plant to channel its energy into bulb development rather than setting seed. The stalk of the dead flower should be cut back, but do not cut back the foliage.
The foliage should be allowed to turn yellow and die naturally. This provides the plant with the food nutrients needed for flowering the next year.
Spring Flowering Bulbs
The foliage can look pretty ugly as it dies back. My suggestion is to design your spring bulb garden in a way to “camouflage” or reduce the negative effect of this dead foliage.
You can plant other flowers or later spring flowering bulbs around the earlier blooming bulbs. You can also plant annual or perennial flowers that develop in front of these bulbs and hide the dying foliage.
I generally dig up my tulip and daffodil bulbs after blooming and the foliage has died back. This means you must mark the area where the bulbs are planted. I then store the bulbs in a cool, dry location during the hot months of the summer. I replant the bulbs in the fall.
Not all people recommend this procedure. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, it protects the bulbs from the heat of the summer. Secondly, I want to use that garden space for other plants. I don’t interfere with the bulbs when preparing the soil for those plants.
Garden design for planting bulbs
When you design your spring flowering bulb garden, there are several things to keep in mind:
- The height of the flower
- The desired flowering period for your spring bulbs
- The flowering period of each spring bulb variety
- The color of the spring bulb flower
- The size of the spring bulb flower
- The texture of the spring bulb foliage
- Other plants needed to camouflage the dying foliage
Planting bulbs for spring flowers is one of several excellent flower garden ideas. In my next post on this topic, I suggest my favorite bulbs to plant including crocus, tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs.
Planting Bulbs for Spring Flowers – The Time is Now
October 20th, 2010
Planting bulbs for spring flowers results in a beautiful display of color just when you need it most.
In many locations, there are just too many cold, damp, cloudy days in the winter. But what a delight it is in the spring seeing the tiny flowers of crocus bulbs poking their blooms just above the ground.
This is then followed by the colorful display of flowers coming from hyacinth bulbs, daffodil bulbs, and tulip bulbs.
Planting bulbs that bloom in the spring is one of many great flower garden ideas. They will greatly enhance your backyard landscape. They produce a wide range of flower colors, shapes, sizes, and heights.
You can select spring bulbs that bloom from the early flowering period through the late flowering period. By planting bulbs selected in this way, you can have a long period of continuous blooming flowers in the spring
Keep in mind that spring flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall. The exact time depends on your geographic location. Check with your local garden center to determine when your bulbs should be planted.
Planting bulbs for spring flowers
The most important factor in growing beautiful spring flowering bulbs is to select the right site for planting.
1. Light conditions – Most flowering bulbs prefer full sun. Check the light requirements for the bulbs you are planting. Keep in mind that deciduous trees may block the sun in the fall but don’t block the sun that much in the early spring since they don’t have leaves yet.
Stay clear of tree roots since they will rob the bulbs of moisture and nutrients in the soil.
On the other hand, Woodland bulbs prefer some shade. These bulbs include Anemone varieties, Jack in the Pulpit, Dog’s Tooth Violets, Snowdrops, and Trillium.
2. Soil conditions – Plant spring bulbs in a well-drained, loamy soil. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.0. You can buy a pH testing kit at your local garden center.
To raise the pH of your soil, you can add hydrated lime or ground limestone. Hydrated lime reacts almost immediately in the soil. A ground or dolomite limestone could take several months to take effect. So you should add limestone several months in advance of planting bulbs. These additives should be incorporated into your soil at least one week prior to applying fertilizer.
The pH of your soil can be reduced by adding cow manure, peat moss, or other compost materials.
You can add bone meal to the soil for additional nutrients. If this causes animals to dig in your bed, you may want to lay some chicken wire over the planted bulbs. Remove it in early spring before the bulbs put out growth.
3. Planting depth – Plant bulbs with the pointed side up and at a depth approximately 3 times the height of the bulb. So the base (roots) of daffodil bulbs should be planted 6 to 8 inches deep. Tulip bulbs and other smaller bulbs can be planted 3 to 5 inches deep depending on their size.
You should add 2 to 3 inches of pine bark mulch over the garden area after planting the bulbs. Mulch will help protect the bulbs over the winter. It will also help the soil maintain moisture.
Here’s an important point. Consider the depth of the mulch in determining how deep to plant the bulbs. So if you are planting bulbs 8 inches deep, 2 to 3 of those inches is made up of the mulch. Therefore, the base of the bulb is covered by 5 to 6 inches of soil.
This post has discussed one of the best flower garden ideas for your backyard landscape. In my next post, I will talk about some of my favorite spring flowers grown from a bulb – crocus, tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs.
What are the Best Perennials to Grow? (Part 3)
October 15th, 2010
In the previous two posts, I began my list of what I consider to be the best perennials to grow. The list is completed in this post.
As I said before, keep in mind that you can add more perennial flowers to this list. There is a good selection of perennials available. The key here is research. By looking online, visiting garden centers, and studying nursery catalogs, you can come up with some great flower garden ideas.
10. Day Lilies – Different varieties of lilies are very nice additions to your perennial garden. I feel they look best planted as a group rather than individual plants. Each blossom of the Day Lily lasts only for one day. But because of its profuse blooming style, this doesn’t make that much difference.
Day lilies grow from 1-3 feet tall and bloom between June and September. They spread easily from year to year.
11. Peony – This is one of my favorite perennial flowers. It comes in beautiful red, white, and pink colors and grows from 2 ½ and 3 ½ feet tall. They do require special care.
12. Phlox – Several varieties of Phlox bloom in different times of the growing season. They can grow from 1 to 3 feet tall. They produce small white, pink, and lavender blossoms. Moss Pink is a dwarf Phlox and grows only to 6 inches tall. It blooms in May and June. Other Garden Phlox grow from 2 to 3 feet tall and blooms in the months of July to September depending on your location.
13. Sedum Telephium – This perennial flower provides a nice contrast with other plants in your perennial garden. It’s a good edging plant. It produces soft pink flowers in July and August. Plants usually grow from 1-2 feet tall and are 2 feet wide.
14. Moonshine Yarrow – There are different varieties of Yarrow but this is my favorite. It produces tight clusters of yellow flowers on plants 2 feet tall. It blooms in the late summer. Other forms of Yarrow grow from 1-4 feet tall.
This is just a partial list of what I consider the best perennials. I will add a post in a few weeks that list several more varieties. I have grown all perennials listed above. I feel you can do very well with any of them.
Please send me a list of any perennial flowers you recommend. I will be happy to publish those as well.
What are the Best Perennials to Grow? (Part 2)
October 14th, 2010
In the previous post, I began my list of what I consider to be the best perennials to grow. The list continues in this post.
Keep in mind that you can add more perennial flowers to this list. The key here is research. By looking online, visiting garden centers, and studying nursery catalogs, you can come up with some great flower garden ideas.
4. Coreopsis – This perennial flower is considered to be one of the best. It has a long growing season. It blooms for about 3 months between June-September depending on your location. It grows up to 2 ½ feet tall in the shape of a mound. It has yellowish blooms that need to be deadheaded after they have faded.
These perennial flowers will be short-lived unless they reseed themselves or are divided and replanted every 2-3 years. After they have finished their first stage of blooming, cut them back by 1/3. This will encourage further blooming during the year.
5. Candytuft – This perennial flower does well in moderate climates. It has white blossoms. It is a low-grower and is used as a ground cover. It blooms in late winter and early spring. As a result, it does a great job of color complementing spring flowering bulbs or early blooming garden shrubs.
6. Daisies – There are several varieties of daisies to choose from. They include Gloriosa, Gerbera, and Painted. My favorite is the Shasta Daisy. They bloom profusely during the summer (June-August). They have white blooms with yellow centers. They grow up to 3 feet tall.
7. Sweet William/Dianthus – This is a beautiful flowering perennial. Different varieties have blooms of red, white, and pink. Sweet William may grow to 2 feet tall. Other varieties will grow no more than one foot. Since they are considered as a biennial, they should be reseeded for the first couple of years. They need protection during the winter months.
8. Hibiscus – This perennial flower has large, beautiful pink, white, and red blooms. It is more of a garden shrub since it grows to 5 feet tall. For that reason, it looks best on the border of a garden. It blooms for several months depending on your location.
9. Iris – Here again, there are several different varieties. All are great additions to your perennial gardens. The German or Bearded Iris is probably the most popular. It blooms in May and June. It comes in many different colors and grows from 1-3 feet tall. The Japanese Iris blooms later and requires frequent watering.
In the next post, I complete my list of best perennials to grow.
What are the Best Perennials to Grow? (Part 1)
October 13th, 2010
The term “perennial flowers” refers to herbaceous perennial flowers. Annual flowers must be planted every year.
But many perennial flowers grow for several years. Others will live for only 2-4 years.
In the fall, most perennials will die back to the ground. But their root system continues to live. In the spring, perennial plants will sprout and put on new foliage.
One disadvantage of perennial flowers is that they may only bloom for a short period of time. But if you do proper research and planning, you can have one or more varieties of perennial flowers blooming throughout the growing season.
Do your research to come up with some good flower garden ideas.
You can also have different varieties of perennials blooming at the same time as long as their flowers complement each other. Mix annuals in with perennial flowers to produce a colorful show.
This post and the next two discuss what I consider to be the best perennials. The list is not necessarily complete. I’m sure you can name another perennial flower or more to this list. In fact, I will add more in the future. If you have some personal favorites, please let me know and I will put them in another post.
1. Aster – This perennial flower comes in different shapes and colors. Most grow from 1 ½ to 3 feet tall. Bloom sizes range from 1 to 3 inches. This type of plant grows in different conditions of soil.
2. Garden Chrysanthemums – This is the perfect perennial flower for the fall. Different varieties come in several different colors including yellow, white, red, bronze, etc.
3. Colorado Columbine – There are several varieties of columbine, but this is my favorite. They produce white and blue blooms and grow to 2 feet tall. They generally flower in May and June.
In the next post, I continue my list of best perennials to grow. This should give you a start in coming up with some great flower garden ideas.