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How to Nourish Your Container Herbs

My herbs are growing in one of the so-called soil-less composts. These are peat based and have the requisite plant foods incorporated. After about two months, I shall begin feeding the plants with a soluble plant food for by this time; most of the existing nutrients will have been used by the growing plants or leached from the soil.

A mixed pot of young plants. Make sure to give them plenty of water if they are in a sunny place.

If you want to grow herbs in any kind of container it is important that you begin with a good potting compost. Different types of these are on sale at all garden stores, centers and the internet. The soil-less types are light in weight, an important point for some people in certain conditions.

However, where these lightweight composts are used out of doors, for instance in window boxes or tubs where at first, while the plants are young, they do not cover the surface, I suggest that it is both wise and beneficial to cover the soil surface with a layer of clean horticultural sand or with washed shingle or some similar material.

This will prevent the precious compost from being blown away on windy days or in windy places. It will also keep the roots cool by preventing too rapid moisture loss. If you feed the plants from time to time (and when you do be sure to follow the directions very carefully and precisely) you can go on using the same compost for quite a long time for the same plants.

It is a good plan to rejuvenate it each spring by giving it a fresh top dressing. Remove the top inch of soil and replace with fresh. Tough, shrubby plants like rosemary originate in the hot, dry garigue areas of the Mediterranean and they can get by with little water, though it is surprising what a difference a plentiful supply makes to them. If you want a good supply of fresh, tender herbs you must be prepared to water lavishly those which are contained, especially if they are very sunny, exposed places.

It helps also to spray the foliage in the early morning before the sun hits it, and on summer evenings. Besides refreshing the plant and helping to keep it turgid, this practice also keeps the leaves clean. Remember that the softer and lusher the nature of the leaves, the more dependent is the herb on moisture. But be sure that you do not kill the plants by drowning, something much easier to do with plants growing indoors than those which are outside.

When potting soil composts are used, it is necessary to place a really good layer of some kind of drainage material at the base of the container. It should fill at least a quarter of the vessel. This ensures that any surplus water that sinks is held in this open layer so that it does not make the soil waterlogged.

The soil-less composts behave differently and it is not so important to provide a drainage level for them. All containers used outside should have drainage holes in them so that water can seep away. Indoors this is not so important and where there is no hole in the container, one should provide a drainage level as for containers out of doors. Often a good layer of charcoal nuggets is sufficient.

How to Plant and Grow Roses In Your Garden

When tidying a rose bed, if it is too consolidated to hoe, use a small sharp spade, and just chip the soil surface, holding the spade almost vertical, and making chips close together and about 3cm or 1 inch deep. After a few dry days, the bed should hoe down nicely; and you could take the chance of putting on some rose fertilizer, and hoeing it in at the same time.

Be careful, when working among the roses, not to knock them with tools, because the injuries so caused may seriously impede the flow of sap, which travels just inside the bark. They may also admit canker spores from the soil and cause trouble later on.

Do not leave labels tied round the base of the plants. They are sure to be forgotten, and when found a few years later, their string (or, worse still, wire) may be strangling the plant.

Feeding Your Garden Roses

As the roses grow, even their young leaves are a delight, and one’s instinct is to help them along with food. There are several good rose fertilizers on the market, and they may be applied at intervals of about a month, from after spring pruning, up to late June, when you should stop.

Try to avoid doing it in dry, windy weather, or the fertilizer will blow away. It is best applied when the soil is damp, or just before it is going to rain. Early applications may be applied on a frosty morning—the fertilizer goes down with the thaw.

Foliar Feed

Foliar feed is useful, because it is very quickly available to the plants, being sprayed on the leaves, which take it in at once. Therefore it can be a tonic to any plants which seem in need, also to those which do not appear to benefit from fertilizer, as often occurs on highly alkaline soils. It may be applied when the plants have sufficient leaves to catch it, and up to late summer to help the autumn flowers.

Mulches

Mulches add humus to the soil, which otherwise may get very little in all the years the roses occupy it. They may be of rotted manure, compost, or peat. Manure or compost are best put on after pruning, and chipped in with a spade, as already described.

Peat

Peat, having no immediate food value, may be applied when the roses are nicely started into growth, for the soil will then be warmed up, and there is no virtue in insulating cold soil with a layer of peat.

There are no set rules about fertilizing by one or the other of these three methods. Rather it is a matter of suiting one’s inclination and pocket, and learning by trial which method, or combination of methods, gives the results one likes.

Pests and Diseases

Of the pests and diseases to watch for, greenfly is the most common, mildew and blackspot the most annoying, and rust the most dangerous. The first three are easy to see, but rust often escapes notice. Watch out for it on the lower leaves, and if you see yellow dots, like pin pricks, look under the leaf. Rust grows there, in groups of orange pustules, which turn black when mature. Elsewhere on this website is a section on pests and diseases, to which you may refer for remedies.

But so far as roses go, remember they have a strong instinct to survive, and if you think something has ruined your roses, you can usually cut it off, burn it, and find the plants will grow again. Then perhaps next year, you will put on the cure in time. A plant which consistently gives trouble should be discarded, because you can soon spend more money on spraying than on buying another rose bush!

Most roses are growing on the roots of a wild rose, which occasionally sends up suckers. Do not believe the old story that they can be identified by the number of their leaflets; seven is the usual tale, and it is highly unreliable. The surest way is the point of origin. If it is from the rootstock, it is sucker. If from the rose, it is rose. But don’t forget the stem of a standard counts as rootstock for this purpose.

Suckers should be pulled or rubbed out as soon as seen; otherwise they become woody, and are more difficult to get rid of. To obtain subsequent crops of flower more rapidly, remove the old flowers when they cease to please. This encourages the plant to grow again, instead of peacefully setting seed.

Varieties of Roses You Can Grow In Your Garden

This guide on how to grow roses would be incomplete without giving some hint of the wonderful beauty which the genus offers. The starting point for most people is hybrid tea roses, either as bushes or standards. The large, high centered blooms of hybrid teas are, in popular estimation, true and traditional roses. In fact, they are only about a century old.

Some of the most resplendent to grow at the time of writing are in red: ‘Alec’s Red’ and ‘Red Devil’; in scarlet: ‘Alexander’ and ‘Fragrant Cloud’; in pink: ‘Silver Jubilee’ and ‘Wendy Cussons’; in orange salmon: ‘Just Joey’ and ‘Typhoon’; in yellow: ‘Grandpa Dickson’ and ‘Sunblest’; in near white: ‘Elizabeth Harkness’ and ‘Pascali’; and in lilac ‘Blue Moon’.

Beautiful as hybrid teas are, there is a temptation to have a riotous sea of color, and floribundas are the roses for that purpose. Their flowers vary in doubleness, but have the common factor of flowering in large heads very abundantly.

The superb ones today are in red: Evelyn Fison’ and ‘Rob Roy’; in scarlet: ‘Orange Sensation’ and ‘Trumpeter’; in pink: ‘Pink Parfait’ and ‘Queen Elizabeth’ (which is tall); in orange salmon: ‘Redgold’ and ‘Southampton’; in yellow: ‘Korresia’ and ‘Sunsilk’; in near white: ‘Iced Ginger’ and ‘Iceberg’; and in lilac: ‘Escapade’ and ‘News’.

Small gardens ask for small neat plants, which in roses may be had from short growing floribundas and from miniatures, the latter having tiny leaves in proportion. Some of the best are in red: ‘Marlena’ (Flor); in scarlet: ‘Starina’ (Min); in pink: ‘New Penny’ (Min) and ‘Royal Salute’ (Flor); in yellow and salmon: ‘Baby Masquerade’ (Min); in yellow: ‘Rosina’ (Min); and in near white: ‘Easter Morning’ (Min).

Roses are glorious shrubs, and there is a fantastic range of beautiful plants among them, outside the commonly seen garden varieties. The beginner could well plant ‘Canary Bird’, R. moyesii ‘Geranium’ and R. rugosa scabrosa, and see if he is not tempted to adventure further.

Climbing Roses

Climbing roses are excellent for growing up pergolas.

The best climbing roses are perhaps: in red: ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’; in scarlet: ‘Altissimo’; in pink: ‘Handel’ (pink and white) and ‘Pink Perpetue’; in orange salmon: ‘Compression’; in yellow: ‘Golden Showers’; and in cream: ‘Mermaid’.

Conclusion

When the beauty of roses has enriched anyone’s life, he is in company with his ancestors beyond any genealogist’s tracing; and a very sensible step is to join also his contemporaries, by becoming a member of the American Rose Society or Royal National Rose Society at St. Albans, UK.

List of Essential Garden Tools and How to Maintain Them

For most aspects of gardening, tools and equipment of one sort or another are essential. Choice is dictated not only by the size and nature of the garden, but the physical attributes of the gardener. This is especially true when it comes to a choice between manual and motorized equipment. One always tends to start with what might be called basic necessities.

Quick NavigationSpadesForksBarrowsRakesGardening Lines with Reel and PinPicksLawnmowersRotary CultivatorsAdditional ToolsMaintenance of Garden Tools and Equipment

Spades

Spades are for digging, cultivating and moving soil, sand and other growing materials, although a shovel, with its larger surface, is more effective for the latter. To use a spade properly, it is inserted vertically into the soil, a portion of soil removed, and replaced with the soil inverted. This is done with a flicking action. It may be necessary to strip off turf or weeds before ground is dug, cutting this over with a scythe or mower beforehand, if need be.

The first thing to do when you go to buy a spade is find one which looks the right size and pick it up and see if you can handle it easily. The smaller size of spade is a ‘border’ spade and they then get numbered from 1 to 4. Most men of reasonable strength can handle a number 2 or 3, whereas for a lady, a ‘border’ spade or a number 1 is large enough. The quality of space you get depends on the price, the best spades being half bright or chrome finish, which slips through the soil with ease and requires the minimum of maintenance.

Forks

These are for forking over the ground, loosening it up, handling manure and so on. Lighter types of soil can, in fact, be turned over reasonably well with forks, using much the same action as with digging—although an open trench is not necessary. There are digging forks with square prongs, and potato forks with flat prongs on one side and manure forks which have very sharp metal prongs, and are dangerous instruments to have around. The same size formula applies as for spades.

Barrows

A wheelbarrow of one kind or another for transporting weeds and garden rubbish is a must. The popular type has a galvanized metal body with an action roller bearing wheel. Tires can be either solid or pneumatic, the latter being better for use on soft land. The traditional barrow has one wheel and two handles, although there are bogey types of barrows around which can be useful, especially for people who are partly disabled.

Rakes

Many types of rakes are available, ranging from the ordinary metal tooth type to the large aluminum or wooden rake. Another type is the flexible wire rake, handy for raking up leaves, stirring surfaces of lawns. The ‘normal’ type of rake is used for raking land level and preparing it for sowing, and a little experience will show that, while the aluminum lightweight rakes are more expensive to buy. They are easier to work with however, and give an excellent finish, as they do not dig into the soil. They are also easier to maintain and will last well.

Gardening Lines with Reel and Pin

It is almost impossible to sow or plant straight rows of anything without a good line. The reel and pin portions are best made of alloy, which gives them a long life and avoids rusting, whereas the line itself is usually polypropylene or nylon. A simple line can be made with two sticks and a length of string.

Like rakes, there are many different types, from the traditional Dutch and draw-hoes, to the more sophisticated shapes. The modern types of hoes are very light and strong and a pleasure to use. Hoes are used for weeding and taking out seed drills, also the earthing up of plants, such as potatoes.

Picks

Especially for the new garden, some form of pick is a basic item, being ideal for dealing with hard baked land or for levering out of bricks and stones half-buried in the soil.

Other fairly basic items are spirit levels for finding true levels for paths, greenhouses, bases and the like. A saw, preferably of the narrow bladed type, called a pruning saw. A garden riddle of about half inch mesh (10-12mm) for riddling soil, sand, ashes etc.

A plastic watering can and a general purpose pressure spray for applying weed killers are really essential items, the latter especially for cleaning up soil with weed killers or dealing with pests and diseases. Some gardeners like to keep separate sprays for weed killers and pesticides—but if the sprayer is washed out carefully with warm water after use—there is not a great deal of risk. A trowel and a fork, preferably of superior finish, to avoid rapid deterioration, cannot be managed without in any garden.

A garden knife for taking cuttings, pruning, should be in every gardener’s pocket. A pair of secateurs which should be of good quality, as cheaper types tend to deteriorate very quickly, is needed fairly constantly in all gardens. A pair of edging shears for trimming lawn edges and hedge shears for hedge trimming, are required sooner or later. These can vary considerably in design and here again, quality is important, although weight factor should be taken into account, as a heavy pair of shears can be tiring to use. A hose-pipe is also fairly basic in most gardens.

Lawnmowers

A massive range of lawnmowers are available today. First of all, it is necessary to decide on the size and nature of the area of grass to be cut, whether it is to be kept finely mown or left rough. Of vital importance is who will do the cutting, as some of the heavier types of mowers can be difficult to operate by a woman.

The cheapest forms of small lawnmowers of the manual kind are those of side wheel design, where the grass is cut by blades driven from one of the side wheels. The cheaper the mower, the fewer the cuts to the yard of meter, this being dependent on the number of cutting blades and the gearing between the drive wheel and the cylinder. The smaller side wheel mowers have the advantage of being light to handle and they give a perfectly adequate finish and can be ideal for the unbroken lawn of up to about 60-100 square yards.

The weakness of the side wheel machine is in cutting edges, something they cannot effectively do. On the other hand, they are often better for badly sloping land. The roller type of manual machine gives a better finish and usually at about 50-60 cuts m/yd. They are better for good surface lawns and where there are a lot of edges involved, as the roller stops the mower falling over the edge.

Whether or not to buy a powered mower, driven either by electricity or petrol, depends on a number of factors. Large areas of grass almost certainly will demand power mowers. Recent years have seen a tremendous increase in the number of rotary cutters as opposed to those which cut on horizontal plane. The finish they give is excellent, and they are certainly better for rougher grass areas, especially where the land is sloping and where there are a lot of trees planted up in the grass.

Hovercraft types of mowers are especially good for rough, undulating ground, but all rotary type mowers must be used with considerable care, especially the hovercraft types.

Rotary Cultivators

Like lawnmowers, these have been the subject of considerable design and improvement in the last decade. Whether or not the expense of buying one is justified, depends very much on the area of ground to be constantly cultivated each year. It might, in fact, be perfectly adequate to hire a cultivator for initial cultivation of a new garden, or even once a year.

On the other hand, rotary cultivators are excellent for inter-row cultivation between more widely grown crops, such as raspberries, strawberries, soft fruit. It is true to say, however, that modern weed killers can take away much of the effort of cultivating ground purely for weed control. It should be borne in mind that, all rotary cultivators intermix top and lower portions of soil, rather than invert them, which happens when the ground is properly dug.

Additional Tools

As the intensity of gardening increases, so will the need for more specialized tools arise. Such items are: fertilizer distributors (for lawns and pre-sowing or planting vegetables); spikers or aerators for lawns; irrigation equipment for lawns and the garden generally; seed drillers, mobile tool racks, electric hedge cutters (mains and battery type), mechanical edgers for lawns (generally electric), loppers for tall trees. If you have a greenhouse, ‘outside’ tools will suffice, except for one very important tool—a dibber.

Maintenance of Garden Tools and Equipment

Hand tools demand reasonable cleaning after use, storage under cover, and preferably, all metal surfaces coated with oil or grease during long periods of non-use. Leaving tools out of doors for long periods, especially during winter, leads to very rapid deterioration. Mechanical equipment, especially if power driven, must be serviced regularly. Cutting items, lawnmowers, shears and the like, should be sharpened and set professionally before the commencement of each season.

Introduction to Growing Herbs in Containers

Chives make a cheerful addition to a window box or grow just as well in pots by themselves.

The handsome sweet bay growing in a smart tub must surely be the classic example of an herb as a contained plant, and I am sure that someone who is no gardener may think that the plant is never grown in any other way, than confined and carefully groomed. Yet bays will grow high, wide and handsome.

This is the only tree among the herbs, and it is interesting that we see it confined more than any other. You might think that the tree could be the most difficult type of herb to grow in a container. It has, in fact, proved to be the most popular. It is so attractive when grown in this way that it is often chosen for its appearance and not for its use.

This method of growing a bay is international. Surely this should encourage us to try growing other herbs in the same way? If it is possible to grow a tree in a pot, we should be able to grow the shrubby kinds equally well, and if these will grow then surely the herbaceous kinds will tolerate confinement also? And indeed this is so!

For some years, I grew many herbs in containers high on a roof in the center of the city, and in these exceptional conditions, I learnt a great deal about these plants. I found for instance that mint, which is said to prefer a moist soil in a shady spot in a garden, would grow quite well in light soil in a pot. Actually I raised good crops in pots and boxes, although these had to be watered constantly during hot and dry spells—and it can get very hot indeed in a roof garden!

Mint certainly grew lusher in the few pots that stood in the shade, but I proved that you can grow mint in a pot in a hot situation. However, fail to water it properly and you can expect trouble, as a rule in the shape of red spider.

Parsley is also said to prefer moist yet fertile soil, but again I planted parsley in the stone trough on the lower roof, where it confounded all the experts. It grew, flourished, flowered, dropped seed and reproduced itself vigorously in soil, which was constantly drying out and in a place which was windswept and sunbaked.

One would, expect thyme to enjoy a baking since we so often find it growing wild on some exposed and sunny bank. This also grew well up in the sky, and flowered prettily. Even bees, in the heart of the city, found it when it bloomed. Fennel, sage, chives and lavender were other roof garden tenants. These were grown in large containers or in raised beds around the perimeter of the flat roof.

Having begun so well, and so high, I have since had no qualms about growing herbs in containers at ground level. They can look most attractive, and now that there are so many plant containers from which to choose, contained herbs can be designed to suit any setting. Provence pots on paved areas, smart white black-banded tubs in a cottage courtyard, stone, plastic, fiberglass, concrete troughs, bowls and saucers— all have their part to play.

Any good garden container will do. In one farmhouse I visited, all the herbs were grown outside the kitchen in great stone drinking troughs, warm with the sun in summer and so thick that they protected the roots in winter.

Slip mint roots inside a plastic bag to isolate the roots from other plants in the tub.

Let us begin in the place most dedicated to the contained garden, the outside window-sill. Here a window-box can become a prolific little herb garden, sufficient to supply the small family with a succession of fresh herbs. But it needs to be well designed. By this, I mean that plants likely to grow large, sage, rosemary and tarragon for instance, are best planted at the side of the box and the center kept for the smaller plants which are not likely to block out so much light from the room behind.

The box itself must be deep enough to hold adequate soil for plants which are to grow lush and will be cut frequently. It should never be less than six inches. Obviously you should also be concerned with visual effects and a very deep box can be ugly, so try to strike the happy medium.

It is best to decide which herbs you most often use and see if these will be suitable to grow outside your window before you begin planting. Fennel, for instance, would not do, for its roots grow too deep and its stem too tall (although it will grow in any deep container) but basil, chives, thyme, parsley, sage, marjoram, savory and tarragon (which grows tall but is kept short by cutting) will all do well.

If you use a lot of chives, plant a row of these along the front of the box and cut alternate plants to keep them uniform and looking as attractive as possible. Sage likes a really deep container, so if your window-box is shallow find a separate pot or tub for it.

If you want to include mint I suggest that you make a special division for it, so that although it is in the herb community, it is in fact planted separately. This way you isolate its roots which are inclined to wander and become invasive. The same thing goes for balm. A tile slipped down inside the box fitting across it closely will do for this.

Alternatively, slip the mint roots inside a plastic bag or the bag type of plastic pot. In the garden, some people plant mint in a bottomless bucket to keep its wandering roots under control yet providing means for the moisture to rise from the soil. A bag or pot does the same in a window box.
You can also have a window box inside your kitchen and the plants will thrive there so long as the light is good, and there are no domestic gas or oil fumes in the atmosphere. Unlike plants in the open air, those grown indoors are apt to become drawn and generally speaking, they are not so long-lived.

It is best if you arrange the box so that it can be turned constantly thus giving all the plants a spell in full light. This way growth will be more even and the plants less drawn. Many of the plastic plant troughs on sale are light to handle and are quite suitable for herbs.

MoonFlower Open Valentine’s Day, But Order Early!

MoonFlower Florist is normally closed on Sundays, but there are two exceptions. One is Mother’s Day and the other is Valentine’s Day if it happens to fall on a Sunday. And this year, it does!

We’ll be open on Valentine’s Day, Sunday February 14, from 10 am to 4 pm. This will be for personal shopping and pre-order pick-up only.

We expect that our delivery schedule will be full on Valentine’s Day. If you do need delivery, please order by phone to confirm delivery availability. A good option is to order ahead and then just come in and quickly pick-up your flowers at the shop.

Birthday Flower for MARCH is DAFFODIL

The bright yellow daffodil is like a long-awaited friend returning home when it pokes through late winter’s ground. Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, particularly when presented in an abundant bouquet, daffodils promise happiness and joy.

New! Silk Flowers and Decor Pieces

MoonFlower Florist is pleased to announce that we have introduced a new collection of silk flowers and decor pieces. These are ideal for adding a unique, permanent splash of beauty to your home or office.

Of course, quality silk flower arrangements do cost more than real flowers. But they can last for years and years. And another great thing about them: zero maintenance.

All of our new silk flower decor pieces are original MoonFlower designs. Some are quite large, up to 4 feet wide by over 4 feet tall. They can fill up an empty space in a hurry, while making a really “wow” impression.