The Tree

Writing and The Written Word

The Tree’s early leaf buds were bursting their brown;
“Shall I take them away?” said the Frost, sweeping down.
“No, leave them alone
Till the blossoms have grown,”
Prayed the Tree, while he trembled from rootlet to crown.

The Tree bore his blossoms, and all the birds sung:
“Shall I take them away?” said the Wind, as he swung,
“No, leave them alone
Till the blossoms have grown,”
Said the Tree, while his leaflets quivering hung.

The Tree bore his fruit in the midsummer glow:
Said the child, “May I gather thy berries now?”
“Yes, all thou canst see:
Take them; all are for thee,”
Said the Tree, while he bent down his laden boughs low.

–Bjorrstjerne Bjornson

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Backyard Gardening Approaches

Home gardens can be as elaborate or as carefree as you would like them to be. Some can survive in blend into the natural landscape of your area or dress up a garden to prove a sense of awe and wonder. Here are a few gardening approaches to get your creative juices flowing.

Xeriscaping

To turn your garden from boring to extraordinary and self-maintaining is to xeriscape. Xeriscaping means to use native and water-wise plants and in arid areas or during times when rainfall is limited, or water restrictions are in force. Xeriscaping plants make gardening easier, once established, because Xeriscaping plants are adapted to the local area and or are more drought resistant because they need less water to provide lush flowers and foliage. Most Xeriscaping plants are perennials, so, they will continue to flourish with minimal care for several years without having to replant.

Formal Gardens

Formal gardens convey a sense of artistry, symmetry, and power over the environment. Formal gardens use of carefully trimmed hedges and symmetrical layouts and elegant pathways. Formal gardens were popularized during Elizabethan times. Formal gardens require considerable work, but the overall effect can be visually spectacular.

Woodland Garden

Woodland gardens use plants that can tolerate shade, and partial sunlight of being undergrowth or grow when desidius trees have lost there leaves in the fall, winter, and early spring. The concept is to mimic and enhance the characteristics of the forest floor and encourage wildlife. Embankments, walkways, streams, and ponds can be augmented by adding or rearranging stone or wood, fencing, bridges, mulch, to accentuate desired areas. The idea is to work with space and terrain and make a Woodland Garden to convey a sense belonging to place and time.

Container Gardens

If your space is minimal, you can still create spectacular visuals with a container garden. Container gardens can be useful in an urban setting, or a small backyard, courtyard, balcony, or patio. Container gardens can con variety the differing colors, sizes, and shapes of containers creating a kaleidoscope of textures and colors. Container gardens can create stunning visuals on very little space, especially, when potential vertical garden opportunities have been incorporated.

Wildflower Gardens

Wildflower gardens can create a wonderfully natural wash of color across the seasons with minimal care in addition to providing food for the native species in your area. Wildflower gardens recreate the mix of flowering plants one might find in a natural field or meadow, rather than the classic, highly groomed, pure green grass lawn. Sowing wildflower seeds can be as simple as just casting handfuls of wildflower seeds around your garden area or in small prepared patches within the existing lawn or garden. You may also want to consider planting some within easy reach of your walkways, in case you get the urge to pick a few to put in a vase in the house. Wildflower gardens will attract bees, birds, and butterflies, to entertain and add activity to your yards and garden.

Lots of money is not required to get started creating your own extraordinary garden spaces. Mostly creating an inspiring garden space requires some creativity, research, planning, and tender loving care (TLC). If in doubt on how to get started, you can always contact your local agricultural extension office of guidance and literature to help you along the way.

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Lawn Care Basics

If you want to keep a beautiful, tidy looking garden, you need to pay close attention to the lawn with proper lawn care. Most Americans take great pride in their yards and so lawn care is important to them. You will notice when you see the results of a properly cared for lawn, it will give you a sense of pride. Of course, you could always pay a gardener to do it, but then you would get no real satisfaction as you would not have done it yourself.

Knowing Lawn Care Basics

Lawn care can be simple just as long as you at least know the basics. Firstly, the tidiness of the garden needs to be addressed. Is it clean? Is there anything on the lawn which shouldn’t be there? Leaves and rubbish spoil the garden, so you need to get rid of them by raking and picking up all litter before you start. You will notice that once you have removed the rubbish and leaves, your garden will already look so much nicer.

If you have bumps within the garden, they can be removed with a spade and you can either replace the sod or plant new grass seed. As well as boosting the appearance of the garden, by leveling it out, you are also ensuring that it is easier to mow and to keep in pristine condition.

Overall keeping the lawn looking good and keeping it trimmed is all part of primary lawn care. It is something which must be done if you are to have a garden of which can be proud.  A green and healthy lawn is very easy to achieve as long as you know Lawn Care Basics techniques and how to apply them correctly. Read the guidelines below so you can handle your turf properly and get incredible results in no time.

Lawn Mowing

• Find out the recommended cutting height for your grass type and follow it. If you’re unaware or unsure of how much grass to mow, cut only one-third of the total grass length as a general rule.

• Make sure you set your mower high enough. Cutting at a low setting will only damage your grass and prevent its roots from growing deeper.

• Use the appropriate mower for your lawn type. It must be well-tuned, sharpened and in good working condition at all times so you’ll be more efficient at mowing the lawn.

• Never mow over wet grass. Always cut when the turf is dry so you can discourage the presence of weeds and diseases.

• To prevent sunburn, mow your lawn during the coldest part of the day, usually, in the morning after any dew has lifted.

When deciding which lawn mowers is right for you, you need to consider the size of the lawn you are going to be cutting and the type of finish you wish to achieve. If your yard is large, then you will want to look at the petrol lawn mowers are not limited by a power cable and tend to have larger grass collection bins meaning less stopping to empty the bin.  If you have a small area of lawn, you might only need a small electric mower.

Lawn Watering

  • Where lawns are concerned watering more frequently in short durations is better than long soaking, which may cause water to run off and wasted.
  • You don’t have to water your lawn all the time. Feed it only when it’s necessary, or you think it’s a bit dry
  • Be sure to your local communities water restrictions and permissible schedules.  Your local communities water restrictions should be checked regularly as they can change throughout the growing season.
  • Water early in the morning-never late in the afternoon or evening because this promotes pests and diseases to develop.
  • Avoid overwatering your lawn. The advisable amount is around 1-2 inches of water per week, but you may have to adjust depending on the season and the required water supply for your particular grass type.
  • Be sure to spread and sprinkle the water throughout the entire lot. You don’t want one area to be soaked and other parts to become dry due to lack of supply.

It is a known fact that grass will not grow and will die without water which will cause some brown patches to show on the lawn. It is essential to understand what type of soil and grass you have to supply it with only the appropriate amount of water. It is also important not to over-saturate the soil with water as this could cause the grass to die. The ideal time of watering the lawn is during the early morning or at sunset because it is during these times that the water is more likely to soak into the soil than just evaporating.

Weed & Pest Control

  • Weed the turf especially during the fall and spring seasons.
  • Choose organic weed and pest control agents, as a last resort, to get rid of unwanted elements without causing damage to your lawn.  If you must apply chemicals, please use them as directed and apply them only where truly necessary.
  • Take out crabgrass as soon as you see it so you can prevent it from developing roots and spreading throughout the lot.

So, those are the basic techniques that you need to apply if you want to make your lawn more beautiful. Be sure to use them the right way so you can see improvement in your lawn’s overall health and appearance.

The best way to achieve that perfect garden is to start carefully and make small but steady improvements over time. A few basic lawn care tools are necessary, but you can buy lawn care tools at any number of places.

fertilizing your lawn

Fertilizing the soil is also essential. However, you will need to know what type of soil you have before proceeding. Knowing your soil type is important because it will allow you to get the correct fertilizer for your lawn, whether organic or chemical. It is essential to understand that using too much fertilizer can harmful to your yard, to the environment, and your family and pets.

Overfertiliation can leave lawns vunerable to Insect attact.

Most people hardly realize that the roots of the grass need air to This is why people who are in the know aerate their lawn to make it healthier. One good way of checking if your soil needs aerating is by pouring a small amount of water to the soil and see if it soaks down through quickly. If it does not, then it is required for you to aerate your lawn.

If you can stay away from the herbicides and weed killers, Consider interplanting perennial clover or Alfalfa. If you can get an established mix of 30 to 50 percent of clover or alfalfa, your lawn will be healthier and require little or no additional fertilizers, as the grass will get its nitrogen from the clover and alfalfa. Additionally, during hotter weather when your lawn grasses my stall or go dormant, assuming adequate rainfall or irrigation has been applied, the clover and alfalfa will continue to be lively and green. If you live in a location where you can let the clover and alfalfa go to flower, you will be attracting and help the local native and honey bee population.

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Rain and snow in your landscaping

Do Your Landscape Reseach

As you consider landscaping your yard, keep in mind that rain and snow are factors for the success of your plan. That means you must follow a careful plan to achieve the best result. You will need to conduct thorough research on landscaping, including finding relevant books on the subject in the library. The success of your research will point you in the right direction about yard landscaping without destroying your yard. The research will also give helpful ideas and concepts which can be combined to improve the appearance and quality of your yard.

Find Precipitation And Drainage Patterns

When implementing your yard landscaping, proper attention should be given to the impact of rain, snow, and drainage. If in the winter you discover your yard is muddy or you are experiencing pool of water across the garden, perhaps you need proper drainage. While it is okay to handle your landscaping as a DIY project; it will be helpful to invite a professional to look at your drainage. In this regard, the expert can do a better job and make your effort at landscaping more rewarding.

Understanding Your Local Weather Patterns

If your yard landscaping is adequately set up, you can maximize the rain resources for the benefits of your plant without ruining your yard. In this way, the rainwater will feed your plant and trees and will not cause puddles that may make your yard flooded while it rains. When you have adequate information about widespread rainfall including it levels and timing, it will help you to plan for the success of your landscaping. Also, this information will help you to make landscaping survival plan for summer.

The Need for Snow in Colder Climates

You also need snow for successful yard landscaping. While it is cold and icy, the melting snow will help to water your garden, and the ice will warm up the soil to sustain the sleeping plants and keep them alive. In the spring, the plant bulbs will crack open and spring back to life giving your garden lushly beauty.

PRECIPITATION Distribution and Collection

Therefore, the proper distribution of rainwater across your yard is vital to the success of your planned landscaping project. You can cross check this when it rains by going around the yard to note the flow of the water and also where it collects into puddles. Use the information you gathered to plan your landscaping project. Even when you have to call in a professional to work on your drainage, the facts gathered would be useful for them to know what to do to plan the right water movement for you.

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How To Grow Apricot Trees

Apricot on a tree branch
Apricot on a tree branch

The apricots are a fine addition to a home growing repertoire. Apricot trees can be grown as fans, bushes or pyramid-shaped examples, or left to grow to a natural shape. Dwarf varieties are available which can be grown in containers, small space in the landscape, or trained along walls so that apricot trees can be suitable for even the very smallest of gardens.

Choosing an Apricot Tree

If you choose a self-fertile, you will only need to buy one apricot tree, which can crop without a partner tree. It is important to choose an apricot tree suited to the exact conditions where you live. The crucial factor is when the tree will blossom. Apricots tend to bloom early, so can be prone to frost damage if there is a danger of a late frost in your area. Bryan, Hungarian and Moorpark Apricots could all be good options for zone 8 in Texas.

Planting an Apricot Tree

Apricot trees will grow best in sunny, wind and frost sheltered, locations. They like a deep, moisture retentive, well drained and ideally slightly alkaline soil and will struggle in shallow soils which have low fertility. Be sure to space your Apricot trees according to the space requirements of the variety you have chosen.  Generally, I like to add two feet to the spacing to provide clearance for picking and maintenance. Mulch the trees with rich compost or well-rotted manure in March and early April. Mulch will help to fertilize and keep down competitive weeds.

Caring For an Apricot Tree

Newly-planted Apricot trees will need deep watering during their first spring and summer so they can establish themselves. For best fruit production deep water when the fruits begin to set and grow. Mature trees may also need to be watered if there are drought conditions.

If your tree is cropping heavily, then you should thin apricots to around 8-10 cm intervals when they are roughly the size of hazelnuts. You may also wish to prune for shape and size at the same time.

Apricots require insects for pollination. If there are not enough insects around yet when the tree breaks into bloom, then you may need to pollinate by hand to achieve the best possible yield. Better still is to encourage pollinators into your garden by companion planting apricot trees with a beneficial guild of plants that can help gather nutrients and which will attract bees and other pollinators to your yard.

Ripe Apricot
Ripe Apricot

Harvesting Apricots

Apricots will be ready to harvest in late June through August. The Apricots are ready to pick when the fruits have a golden-yellow color, are soft, and detach easily from the tree. Take care when harvesting to avoid bruising the delicate fruits and the immediate consumption or preservation of the fruit is strongly recommended. Apricots can be used in preserves, a whole range of delicious desserts, and dehydrated as a healthy treat.

Apricot Torte
Apricot Torte

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How To Grow Peach Trees

Home grown Peach on a branch
Home grown Peach on a branch

Peaches are such attractive trees and have such delicious fruit – no wonder they are a favorite with many gardeners in the climate zone. Peaches are a delicious, fresh taste of the summer and there is nothing better than being able to pick these juicy fruits from your garden.

Choosing a Peach Tree

Most peaches are self-fertile and so will not require a companion tree to fruit. However, you may wish to consider choosing different peach varieties to be able to harvest these delicious fruits over a longer period. Peaches that do well in zone 8 gardens include Gulf Crimson, Early Golden Glory, Bicentennial, Sentinel, Redglobe, Milam, and Fayette. Ask your local garden center, master gardener or agriculture extension office for other examples of peach trees that will do best where you live.

 Planting a Peach Tree

 Peach trees will require a sheltered site in full sun.  Moisture-Retentive and yet well-drained soil is best. Be very careful to avoid planting in a frost pocket or a windy or exposed location, as peaches blossom early and so can be damaged by late frosts in some areas.

 Caring For a Peach Tree

 The first year after planting It is important to deepwater your peach tree to ensure that the roots do not dry out. During the growing season, you should deepwater regularly, and during periods of extreme heat,  you may need to water more frequently.  Use of a drip irrigation system is strongly recommended. A good layer of compost and two to four inches deep mulch will help to retain soil moisture and will help feed your tree.

Underplanting with a beneficial guild of companion plants will also help with soil cover and moisture retention, as well as aiding your peach tree by attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects to your garden.

Prune your tree as required for shaping and size requirements. Pruning aims to replace fruited wood with new growth. Peaches mostly grow on the previous year’s growth.

When fruits appear, these should be thinned to give a final spacing between fruits of around 15 cm. Remove any small or misshapen fruits when they are around the size of your fingernail. Keep an eye on fruits and if necessary, protect them from birds and other wildlife.

 

Harvested Peaches in a bowl
Harvested Peaches in a bowl

 Harvesting Peaches

 Peaches should be ready to harvest between July and September depending upon weather and the variety of peach. Peaches are ready to pick when they are fully colored, and the flesh close to the branch stem feels soft. Cradle each fruit in the palm of your hand and then lift gently. You will need to harvest over more than once as the peach become individually ripe,  as not all the peaches will develop and ripen at once; especially if you have planted different varieties. Do not leave picked fruits uneaten or unpreserved too long. Peaches are most nutritious and flavorful used immediately after harvest.

 If you do have a large harvest of peaches, you can also turn these into a range of delicious desserts, or preserves to see you through to the colder months.

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A Guide to Conserving Water in a Permaculture Garden

Pound in Woods
Pound in Woods

Conserving water is always essential in a garden, and especially so in a climate such as the one experienced in Texas. Whether you believe in climate change or not it is prudent to take measures to use water more wisely and more sparingly. This guide to conserving water in a permaculture garden will help you to do this in your own backyard.

Permaculture emphasizes the importance of managing water successfully, as well as reducing the amount of water we require to grow our food. For gardener’s converse water, it is essential to understand how water is stored in a garden.

During rainfall, the water will flow through the landscape in predictable ways. It will be stored in the soil and be taken up into trees and plants. Permaculture teaches us practical ways to ensure that the water cycle of our planet continues to function as it should, and ways to manage the flow of water on our sites to make use of this natural resource to grow our food.

A rain barrel set up to catch rain
A rain barrel set up to catch rain

Harvesting Rainwater in a Permaculture Garden

Water will naturally flow downhill. In sloping sites, creating a pond or basin in a dip on the lowest part of the site is one way to gather and store rainwater for later use. We can also collect rainwater from the built environment by attaching butts or barrels to the downspouts on our homes.

We can also slow the rate at which water escapes from our gardens by creating earthworks such as on-contour swales (or ditches). These swales are depressions filled with organic materials which catch and store water. By planting along swale lines, we can make the most of all the rain that falls on our land.

Conserving Water in a Permaculture Garden

Catching and storing rainwater in our gardens is only part of the picture. We can also take measures to reduce the amount of water that we require to grow our food.

  • Drought-Tolerant Planting

One of the things we can do to conserve water is chosen the right plants for the right places. When choosing plants for your garden, always consider how much water they will require. Consider drought-tolerant plants native to your area if you live in a low-rainfall area. Salvia, phlox, and verbena are three wildlife-friendly examples of drought-tolerant plants native to Texas.

  • Shade Creation

In addition to considering planting drought-tolerant plants, it is also a great idea to consider planting trees and shrubs for shade. Shading the soil will slow the rate of evaporation and reduce water loss during the summer months. Great drought tolerant shade trees include the Chinkapin Oak, the smaller Lacey Oak, and deciduous holly.

  • Mulching & Ground Cover

You can also reduce water evaporation from the soil in your garden by taking care to cover the soil with mulches of organic matter or ground cover plants.

  • Low-Water Use Irrigation Methods

Of course, water will still be required by your plants. Choosing low-water-use irrigation methods can help you to direct the water to exactly where it is needed, without using more than you need to. Low water use irrigation methods include wicking beds and clay pot irrigation.

These are just some of how you can catch, store and save water in a permaculture garden.

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