Posts

How to Grow More Cucumbers for Pickling Using Trellis Netting

Trellis NettingGrow more cucumbers for pickling by using these trellis netting tips and recommendations:

Growing your cucumbers on Trellis Netting can more then triple  your harvest and decrease the work and produce damage.  Cucumbers grown on a trellis have the tendency to be healthier and more uniform in size and shape.

The main way that Trellis Netting can double your harvest is due to vertical growth.  The cucumbers grow up as high as 6.5 feet rather then spreading out on the ground.   You can grow more then twice the amount of cucumbers per square foot growing vertically. Secondary effects of growing vertically include increased exposure to air and sun.  The plant is effectively getting more of what it needs to produce bigger, healthier and earlier harvests.

At the same time, growing on Trellis Netting reduces damage from insects, rodents and ground-rot.  Since the fruit is not laying on the ground pests have limited access to it.  The fruit hanging on the trellis does not get exposed to the moisture, fungi and bacteria in the soil that can cause ground rot.  Cucumbers are also cleaner at picking time and the air circulation certainly assists in the prevention of many diseases associated with growing cucumbers.

Using a ground cover film such as Veggie Booster Mulch is a additional growing technique that compliments growing on Trellis Netting. This will further prevent exposure to pests, bacteria and fungi, reduce weeds by 75%, as well as hold in moisture and heat needed for excellent growth.  The best thing about the red reflective film is that is reflects extra red light wave length to aid in good growth.  Water the cucumbers by laying a soaker hose under the ground cover.

 

Everyone love pickles and if you haven’t tasted homemade pickles then you have not lived!

Did you know that you don’t have to spend hours slaving in the kitchen to have good homemade pickles for your family.  Refrigerator pickles take no time at all and will impress the heck out of your family and friends.

 

6 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers (about 2 pounds)

2 cups thinly sliced onion 

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

3/4 cup sugar 

3/4 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

 

Preparation:

Place 3 cups cucumber in a medium glass bowl; top with 1 cup onion. Repeat procedure with the remaining 3 cups cucumber and remaining 1 cup onion.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; stir well. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Pour over cucumber mixture; let cool. Cover and chill at least 4 days.

 

Note: Pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

 

 

Educate Yourself about Bird Netting Before You Shop

Educate Yourself About Bird Netting  Before You Shop

Know what you are getting for your money

Mary’s Story

        Mary is a wonderful lady with a lovely family.  Family is the most important thing to her and that is why she was so excited when her children began to have kids of their own.  She had plans of being the best Grandma ever.  She envisioned her grand kids visiting her often and spending hours and hours playing out side on their family property just the way her kids did when they were little.  As soon as the first grandchild was born, she decided to plant some cherry trees and blueberry bushes so that the grand kids could roam around the property and snack on berries and climb the cherry trees.  She realized that, she needed to start now so the tree and bushes would be bearing lots of fruit by the time her grandchildren could climb trees.
        She put in three cherry trees and three blue berry bushes.  Mary took all the care in the world picking healthy starts and planting them so that they had to best chance for success.  The trees and bushes grew beautifully.  She just left them alone for the first couple of years.  When her oldest grandson turned 6 she knew that it was just about time to start her tradition of picking berries with her grand kids.  The only thing that worried her was that, she noticed the birds had eaten most of the cherries and blueberries this year.  She never really cared before because the kids weren’t old enough and the crops were very small the first years anyway.  However, this year the blueberries and cherries were plentiful and the birds had devoured them.  she knew that if she was going to have any fruit for her family, she had to figure out something.  She didn’t want to hurt the birds.  She likes birds but she likes her grandchildren more! :).  Her neighbor had purchased some netting and had great success with it so she decided to try that.
        she went online and did a search for bird netting.  She found a wide range of prices and wondered why, but didn’t give it to much thought.  She pick one that was priced low.  She figured why pay more.  The netting arrived and she went to work covering her fruit.  To her frustration, putting up the netting turned out to be harder then her neighbor made it look.  The netting kept snagging, breaking off branches and tangling.  In the process the net ended up ripping in a couple of spots, so some birds were still able to get through and even more were able to reach the berries on the out side.  When she went to pick blue berries she had a difficult time getting the net off.  She thought, how ironic that the netting wasn’t really keeping the birds out but it was keeping her out.  She was so frustrated that she almost gave up on her visions of enjoying these fruit picking experiences with her grandchildren.  Mary decide to look on the Internet and see if there was a better way.  After all, why would so many people use Bird Netting if it was this frustrating and ineffective.  She found a site that changed her bird netting experience.  On this site she learned that there are many different types of bird netting with different qualities, uses and pricing.  She learned that she was using the wrong type for covering her cherry trees and that  the Bird netting she had was fine for her Blue berry bushes but that it should not be laid directly on the plants.  The site taught her how to accurately determine the size needed for each project as well as how to install it.
        Mary followed all the advise on the website and was amazed at how different her experience was the following year.  That year her oldest grand child was able to climb the cherry tree and the others were able to pick blueberries.  She was so thankful that she did not give up.

What are some bird netting companies not telling you about their Bird Netting?

        Many companies sell  light weight extruded netting as their only option for bird netting because it looks like a really good price when compared to higher quality bird netting such as a knitted or a heavier extruded (10 year premium bird netting).  They all come up in the same search for Bird Netting and it looks like one company is selling theirs really cheap.  They are not exactly doing you a favor when they are omitting the facts that some Bird Netting is lower quality and has some limitation.  Most people don’t know that their is a difference & are very disappointed when they get it home, if it is not well suited for the task.   I get a lot of calls from people saying “I need bird netting and I don’t want any of that black plastic crap”.  There is nothing wrong with the 4 year extruded netting.  It has its place, and when used for the right projects its wonderful.  The heavier extruded netting is called Premium Plus Bird Netting and is very popular in commercial vineyards and Blueberries.  the Vineyards are able to drape the product right over the plants.  The blueberry netting should be suspended so that it is not touching the bushes to prevent snagging.
        Pay attention when comparing Bird Netting online as well as in the garden center.  Make sure that you are comparing the type of material, the weight and the life expectancy.
Bird Netting

Bird Netting

Make a Homemade Mosquito Trap With Ingredients You Already Have

The reason that mosquitoes are attracted to humans is because they want to suck our blood.  The way that they find us is by detecting the Co2 that we breathe out.  That is why this mosquito trap works so well.  It uses Co2 for bait. Mwa Ha Ha!

1st Gather your Supplies

  • 1 2 liter soda bottle
  • Sharp knife
  • Black paper
  • Tape
  • Candy thermometer

2nd Cut the top off the soda bottle and invert it

Cut the top off right at the place before it starts to narrow.  This is important.  If you cut it too high the top can fall inside the bottom.  Once you cut the top off, turn it over and place the spout down in the bottom half.  Now, tape the seam with any tape that you have.  Clear looks the neatest.

3rd Make a simple sugar syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cool water
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast

Directions:

  • Bring on cup of water to a good boil.
  • Pour the sugar into the boiling water. (Careful)
  • Once you can see the sugar is dissolved completely, take the pan off the heat.
  • Stir in two cups of cold water.  Make sure that you stir it completely.
  • Let the solution cool down to 90 degrees F
  • Add 1 teaspoon active dry yeast, you don’t have to mix.
  • Pour the syrup into the bottle using the inverted top like a funnel.
  • The fermenting yeast will release carbon dioxide. Put black paper around the bottle since mosquitoes like dark places and carbon dioxide. This mosquito trap will then start working.  You can decorate the paper if you want to make it look cute.

TIPS: Put the trap in a dark and humid place, near by where you and your family hang out, for 2 weeks. You’ll see the effect. You’ll have to replace the sugar water + yeast solution every 2 weeks.

Reflective Mulches Boost Fruit Size, Color and Yields

08/01/2011

By Renee Stern, Contributing Editor

Reflective materials that bounce additional sunlight up into tree canopies from the orchard floor can pay off in higher yields, bigger sizes, and better and more evenly colored fruit.

Tests over the past eight years with reflective fabrics placed in drive rows produced similar results in apples, cherries, pears, peaches and nectarines, says Tory Schmidt, a research associate with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission in Wenatchee.

“I was a little surprised at how consistently effective they’ve been at those three qualities,” Schmidt says.

‘Pretty substantial’ results

Results include a “pretty substantial” impact in size, fruit set and yield. Yields in test plots, for example, have run up to 20 percent to 25 percent higher, he says. Mylar foils used in the tests improved only fruit color.

Higher yields, larger fruit and better color “all put money back in the grower’s pocket,” Schmidt says.

While reflective materials so far are more common in Western orchards, the extra light also is crucial for Michigan cherry growers using high tunnel systems with blush varieties.

“We’re already light-limited [without high tunnels] so every little bit helps,” says Greg Lang, professor of horticulture at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Adding to the problem, the plastic used in high tunnels partly blocks ultraviolet light.

And without UV light, only the topmost layer of Rainiers and other high-value blush cherries achieve full color. The rest, he says, stay pale yellow.

Convincing results in blush cherries

Lang hasn’t found funding for a full range of controlled experiments with the reflective materials.

But he’s done enough preliminary work with three types—Extenday reflective fabric, Mylar foil and a white weed barrier fabric—to show convincing results with blush cherries.

The jury is still out for the region’s growers with Bings and other sweet red varieties, or for those not using high tunnels, he says.

Any added expense requires careful consideration.

Choices, choices, choices

Which reflective material to use depends on your objectives for a particular block, says Jonathan Toye, founder and chief executive officer of Extenday USA Inc.

The company, based in Yakima, Wash., offers 10 versions of its reflective fabric, varying in weight, durability, reflectivity and weave construction.

Growers’ objectives also affect how they use the material, when they deploy it and whether they shift it later in the growing season to aid a different crop, Toye says. “Think about it as a management tool,” he says.

Washington Fruit & Produce Co. in Yakima, Wash., has used Extenday since 2005, mainly in Gala apple blocks. There, the company sees not only color improvements but also up to a 10 percent increase in yield, says orchard manager Dan Plath.

“If [color] was the only reason it wouldn’t justify the expense,” he says.

For color alone, Mylar foils suffice, he says. The company chooses that material for its older Fuji and Gala varieties.

“We have to work harder on those to get color, so there’s a lot of room for improvement,” he says. “But the newer generations [of those varieties] are where we’re getting 70 to 80 percent premium [fruit].”

If improving fruit color is your main objective, Schmidt says, you can wait until a few weeks before harvest to install reflective foils or fabrics. Laying out the material at bloom helps increase cell division to ultimately boost fruit size and yield.

Hold off early deployment until after any severe frost forecasts, Plath says.

Reflective materials substantially reduce ground warming from spring sunlight, which can translate into a degree or two drop in nighttime orchard temperatures—a potentially crucial difference for frost protection.

Mylar foils cost less up front, Schmidt says, but are less durable and must be replaced after a single season, increasing disposal costs.

Sturdier materials such as Extenday represent a bigger initial investment, but can be used for five or six years before replacement.

And unlike the foils, they also can stand up to being rolled up and moved to a new location partway through the growing season, he says.

Many growers take advantage of that sturdiness, placing the fabric strips in apple blocks early in the season to boost cell division, then transferring them to cherry orchards before harvest.

After finishing up cherries, they return the fabric to apple orchards to boost fruit color, he says.

“The benefits more than pay for all that moving around,” Schmidt says. Growers get three to four uses each year out of the same product rather than investing in three times as much reflective material.

The Extenday fabrics work best raised slightly from the ground to allow air flow, he says. Shock cords secure the material during use.

Plath recommends doubling up shock cords on the windward side of any block, a lesson learned from hard experience. A wind storm blew fabric strips up into tree rows like sails, breaking trees at bud unions.

But avoid tightening the cords too much, he says. The material needs some give, especially to handle equipment traffic.

Careful handling and storage during the off-season—ideally rolled up under a tarp out of the way—will help increase its life, Schmidt says.

Reflective material can help make “the best blocks better,” he says. But it’s not a rescue product. “It may marginally help shaded, struggling blocks, but there has to be light reaching the ground for it to be effective.”

 

For information regarding American Nettings and Fabric’s mulch, please see Veggie Mulch

More about American Nettings

About American Nettings

American Nettings & Fabric supplies a full complement of ‘American Made’  bird netting, deer fencing, trellis netting, shade cloth, crop cover, landscape fabric, and much more for the lawn & garden and horticultural markets. Whether you’re looking for plastic mesh to use as a bird repellent or deer-proof fencing, we have the solutions and products you need. Our main objective is to provide quality product and solutions in nettings and fabric to commercial agriculture as well as provide retail packages for wholesale and retail.
We do a great deal of business providing a variety of netting solutions to Vineyards. We supply netting for full vineyard enclosures as well as side netting and multi row netting.
The company was founded in 1983 as a family run operation based on high standards of integrity and quality. Although the company has grown and now holds national and international markets the company is still run as a family operation based on good old fashion business morals.
Whether you have a commercial agriculture operation or a home garden addition, we have solutions for you that will save you time and money.

Specialties

Vineyard Netting solutions, Agricultural netting and fabric solutions, Wholesaling packaged netting and fabric for home gardening, Online retail sales of packaged netting and fabric for the home gardener

  • Headquarters

    7042 Portal Way Bldg N1 Ferndale,Wa 98248 United States

  • Website

    https://www.americannettings.com/

  • Industry

    Farming

  • Type

    Sole Proprietorship

  • Company Size

    11-50 employees

  • Founded

    1985

Worms for Your Garden & Fishing

CALLING ALL WORMS…

NO MORE STAYING UP ALL NIGHT WITH A FLASH LIGHT & A GARDEN HOSE!

 

No more sleepless nights.  I have stayed up all night with a flashlight and a garden hose.  I can just remember waiting for those tricky worms to pop up out of the ground.  I had to be fast because the second I shined my flash light on them they would try and get away.  They were the only things standing in the way of me landing the big fish at the lake.  So when I came across this technique, that I am about to describe to you, I had to laugh at my self for doing it the hard way all these years.

This technique is so easy and simple it should be illegal.  All you have to do is find an area with moist soft dirt.  Try under a log or a board that has been sitting in the same place for a while.  Push a 12 to 18” long stick about a quarter of the way into the ground.  Rub another stick against it like you are trying to start a fire.  Do this for about 2 to 5 minutes and you should see tons of worms popping up to the surface.

If you are going fishing, just start grabbing and tossing them into a container and be on your way.  But, if you thought worms were only good for fishing then think again.  You can do this in several locations in your garden to summon more worms to work the soil and take advantage of all the benefits that worms can bring to growing your own food.

Worms do all sorts of things in the soil that help make soil perfect for growing healthy food.  There is nothing like having around 500,000 farm hands, per acre of soil, to work for free.  These little farm hands break down organic matter by eating and burrowing there way through the soil.  As they eat they leave behind castings that are an excellent fertilizer.  As they burrow they leave behind tunnels that make room for air and water to be held and made available to plant roots.  All the while they are mixing organic matter such as leaves and grass at the surface with the soil below.

Using Natural Burlap for Carrot Germination

Using Natural Burlap for Carrot Germination

Carrots can be a big early spring headache. In cool weather, they take forever to germinate, 2 or 3 weeks, and by that time, the chance of weed competition is pretty good, and just about anything growing around the tiny seedlings makes excruciatingly time-consuming surgical hand weeding a necessity. What to do?  Many people use woven landscape fabric. The fabric will heat up the soil and speed up germination while keeping weeds down. The problem is the germination window is very tiny.  If you get busy and wait a few hours or a day too long the little seedlings emerge and get toasted from the very same heat that gave them life. If you don’t enjoy this game of roulette then you should try using natural burlap.  The burlap will heat up the soil and speed up germination as soon as 7 days.  It also retains the perfect amount of moisture in its fibers and feeds it to the soil all day long.  The Fabric is very permeable and will let in just the right amount of light and air while releasing excess heat.

Now, all you have to do is get to work!  Here is how to plant carrots in 10 easy steps:

1.  Go to www.americannettings.com and buy a roll of Natural Burlap.While you’re at it, check out the Trellis Netting.  I love growing everything on trellis as you can guess from my previous blog posts.  You will get your order in about 4 days.

2.  Choose a site that gets full sun (carrots will tolerate light shade but won’t do as well). Soil should be light, with a pH of 5.8 to 6.8

3.  Dig to a depth of at least 12 inches, and remove all traces of rocks and other debris – even a small twig could injure a carrot growing tip, stunting the root or making it fork.

4.  Add plenty of organic matter; it will lighten heavy soils and increase the moisture retention of sandy ones. Carrots grow sweeter and less fibrous in soil that remains moist.

5.  Sow carrot seeds directly about two to three weeks before the last expected frost in cool regions; in warm climates, you can plant in fall, winter or spring.

6.  Make early sowings shallow to capture warmth from the sun; sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface, tamp them gently and cover them with a thin layer of finely sifted compost. If planting later, when the soil has warmed up, plant seeds between 1/4 and 1/2 inch deep.

7.  Now roll out two layers of natural burlap over the seeds and gently water down the burlap.

8.  When the seeds germinate you can gently roll off the burlap and let them bask in the sun.  If you wait too long to take the burlap off, the seedlings will begin to come up though the burlap.  Don’t be alarmed. Gently lift the fabric off and the seedlings should pop out the bottom.  However, weeds that have begun to grow will be pulled out. Yay!

9.  Thin seedlings before the tops become entwined: Either clip off the greens with scissors, or pull the roots very gently from the ground so you don’t disturb the remaining plants. Allow 3 to 4 inches between carrots, depending on the variety (check the seed packet for details).

10.  Begin harvesting carrots when they’ve turned deep orange.

One of my fondest memories, as a child, is picking carrots out of my mom’s beautiful garden.  I was only about 3 or 4 so I don’t remember much.  But, I have a clear recollection of pushing my big Yellow Tonka Dump truck (big to a toddler) from the front porch all the way around the house and into this giant jungle of a garden.  While, she was picking tomatoes, I was pulling gigantic carrots out of the ground and filling my dump truck with them.  I felt so helpful.  I would then take a load around the house to the porch and come back for another.  Best Day Ever!

Knitted Bird Netting Enclosure

The following instructions for a Bird and Deer Proof Netting Enclosure were written by one of our dearest customers by the name of Marvin Nuaman.   So thank you Marvin for the great idea sharing.

Knitted Bird Netting Enclosure

 This Garden Bird & Deer proof Cage was constructed by first getting some used well pipe from a well driller, clean & painted it, drove the next size bigger size well pipe (Stakes) into the soil to act as sleeve’s for the net poles (well pipe). Corner & sleeve joints are panted PVC Fittings. Then added 4′ high fence material (for deer & rodent protection) at the base. Then we put American Bird Netting over the top and sides over lapping the fence 1-2′ for a bird proof fit. We used American Netting Clips to attach the netting to the fence for easy assembly and removal each Spring & Fall. We added a modified metal gate from a farm supply house for easy human access. We love it.

One NOTE: This started out as a good neighbor thing. One finding better ways of doing something. We both tried various things. first to keep the deer out. and then the birds. This garden has a Bird side and a deer side. Things escalated with the growing deer population. I decided to cover the whole garden with PVC pipe and stitching small netting together from a local store. Then my neighbor like it so well. he copied me using metal well pipe. The PVC pipe worked ok for 3 seasons but required maintenance and would bend and was a pain. so I took my neighbors idea and improved on it even more especially in the joints and adding real farm gates. One I modified by making it higher and adding bird proof wire and it makes a bird proof fit to the pipe frame (no welding or drilling was done on the gate modification). My neighbor loves it so well he’s modifying his rig this summer.

While we were at it. we moved 5 very established Blue Berry plants, and added 1-10 yard dump truck of 5 & 1 soil mix. Our Raised beds came from used treated decking that my neighbor was rebuilding for his son.

The raised beds really made a big difference in our very healthy crop this year. we were amazed. Even our relocated Blue Berries that had been pruned at least 50% for the transplant gave us a healthy plentiful crop.

 

Watermelon Grows on Trellis Netting

This is a great example of urban gardening using a trellis to grow watermelon. I would use our trellis netting rather then the green cord in the picture because it looks translucent and is less obtrusive. when the watermelons get heavy you can make little hammocks for them out of left over netting so they don’t fall off the vine.

Watermelon Growing Tips

Watermelons use a huge amount of water and will grow up to a pound a day given the right conditions.  One of the better tips for growing watermelon is that if you live in the north, you should start early varieties in the house and plant transplants instead of planting the seed directly into the soil. Watermelons prefer sandy loam soil over others.  Watermelons need a long growing season (at least 80 days) and warm ground for seeds to germinate and grow. Soil should be 70 degrees F or warmer at planting time. Sow seeds 1 inch deep and keep well watered until germination.

To get a jump start in cooler climates, cover the planting area with red veggie booster mulch fabric to warm up the soil and start seeds indoors two or three weeks before they are to be set out in the garden. Don’t start seeds any earlier, because large watermelon seedlings transplant poorly. Plant 3 seeds in 3- or 4-inch peat pots or large cell packs, and thin to the best plant. Sow watermelon seeds 1/2 inch deep. Place in a sunny south-facing window or under lights to germinate. Make sure the area is warm?day and night?ideally 80 degrees F. Use a Seedling Heat Mat if necessary.  Select short-season varieties such as ‘Million Bucks Hybrid’ or ‘Orange Sunshine Hybrid’ if your growing season is less than 90 days.   The Veggie Booster Mulch fabric that was previously mentioned will warm the soil, maintain moisture and keep weeds at bay.  the  fabric is a unique red color that reflect light and makes the plant think that is has competition and should grow faster.  Keeping the watermelon plants warm during the spring is very important.  The best way to do this is to use Crop Cover.  Use a piece that  drapes over the top of your Trellis netting and hangs to the ground on each side.  Pin the edges to the ground with plastic fabric pins.  This will hold the crop cover in place even when its windy.  The pins are easy remove as often as you need to get in and work with your plants.  The crop cover creates a little micro environment that is warm with just the right amount of sunlight and moisture.  the fabric collects and traps the heat of the day so that the plants are warmer at night.  When the weather gets nice you simply take the crop cover fabric off and use it again in the fall when it starts to get cold again.

 

 

Plant the watermelon seeds near the base of the trellis.  Train the watermelon vines up the trellis as they lengthen and grow. Watermelons are not natural climbers, so fix the vines to the trellis with string.Monitor your watermelon plant from time to time to make sure that it is stable. Check hammocks to ensure that they are relieving the pressure off of the vines

        Harvest the watermelons at the usual time. Trellising will not change the growth pattern of your plant, although it can protect the fruit from diseases and pests usually encountered on the ground.

watch this video to lean the easiest way to put up trellis netting for your garden.  You can use this technique for a large garden as in the video or you can use the same technique for just one small row.

 

 

Thank You’s from the Custer Community

Custer Elementary Kid’s Garden Club Fundraiser

Join The CUSTER Elementary KID’s Garden Club FUNDRAISER!

During the month of February, for every new like on our Facebook fan page American Netting’s well add $1 toward the amount of Gardening products that will be donated to the Custer Elementary Kids Garden Club (up to $500). Go to American Nettings & Fabric Inc. and click like.  American Netting’s will provide the kids with advise on Urban Gardening techniques that use vertical and horizontal space in order to get more crop production with less space and no chemicals.  The company will be donating  products such as trellis netting, crop cover, tomato greenhouse bags, veggie mulch fabric, shad cloth and what ever else may be needed.  If you would like to help, go to our facebook fan page and click LIKE.  We will be posting blogs with picture and video of the students progress though out the growing season.

Have The Garden Of Your Dreams This Year

Do you love the idea of having a garden but find that your yard falls far short of your Spring dreams?  I used to plant a beautiful garden that turned into a weedy mess by the middle of Summer.  You know how it is.  Between the summer heat and vacation time away from home, the rain causes everything to explode with growth.  When you finally get back to it you are lucky to find anything to harvest.  If that sounds like your annual battle, you can do what I did to simplify your garden maintenance and keep it looking neat.

Cleanliness is next to godliness – It is imperative that you start the season with a clean slate.  Remove old weeds and dead branches.  Clean your patios and walkways and if they need it, seal them.  It will not only preserve their life, but also keep them cleaner.  If your lawn has dead patches where it gets foot traffic, replace it with a patio material that can take the traffic.  Your garden department has forms that can make a cement path look like stonework or you could choose gravel, mulch or patio tiles.  The idea is to replace your struggling grass with something that will look great with little on going effort.

Mulch, mulch, mulch – I can’t stress the value of mulch enough.  With my last vegetable garden, I raked all of my oak leaves onto the beds.  Now I have heard that Oak is too acid to be used without composting it first but by adding a little garden lime, I had superb results.  The leaves kept my garden soil cooler and moister.  It really cut my watering time and my veggies loved it.  You can bet I added it to all my other garden beds the next year.  PLEASE NOTE:The secret to boosting the benefit of your mulch is to lay landscape fabric under it.  Some people use strips of plastic but unless you poke holes in it, the rain can’t penetrate.  Other people use newspapers, whatever you choose, putting mulch on top of a weed barrier keeps weeds from taking over your garden.  If any do sprout, you will find that they have shallow root systems and pull out easily.  Along with this, add your permanent edging.  It not only defines the edges of your flower beds, but also helps to keep grass from creeping into them.

Plant permanent greenery – It will become the backdrop for seasonal additions.  This is one of the secrets to avoid starting from scratch each year.  Once a permanent bush is planted, you can easily add flowering annuals in front of it and change them with the season.  It keeps your garden looking fresh even though you are only actively working the front 1 or 2 feet of space..

Plan to water – Even if you can’t afford timers this year, you can simplify your watering task. If possible, set up a pvc sprinkler system that can be manually operated.  Doing so will easily give you better water coverage.  Timers can be added when your budget allows.  If that is beyond your means and you have to rely on a hose and sprinkler system, consider adding separate hoses for each area that you have to water.  A simple shutoff splitter will direct the water where it’s needed without having to reposition the hose each time.  You are more likely to stay up with needed watering if all you have to do is turn a valve on or off.

Pick durable tables and chairs – Garden furniture must be weatherproof and easy to clean.  If you are in an area that gets a lot of rain, add a garden chest where chair cushions can be kept clean until you need them.  Who wants to be wiping down cushions when company is coming?

Finally, choose outdoor garden statues over a fountain – I have both in my landscape and I really love my fountain; but if you want to make your life easier, the fountain needs weekly cleaning.  You can provide a soothing sound like a fountain does but without the work by hanging big brass garden bells or large wind chimes that have a low tone.  Either one will add interest to your garden without increasing your work load.

A little preplanning will help you enjoy your garden all Summer and into the Fall. If you have enjoyed these tips, please visit the Outdoor Garden Statues blog. Gardening is our passion and we want you to love it as much as we do!