Tips for Summer Veggie Gardening

It doesn’t get much better than biting into a plump, juicy garden-fresh tomato or slicing a cool chunk from a freshly-picked cucumber. If you’ve always been interested in starting a vegetable garden, but are too apprehensive to give it a shot, then read on. Veggie gardening can be a fun and rewarding experience provided you do your homework and properly plan before you dive into the planting process.

If you follow a few simple guidelines, when fall arrives, you will have a bountiful autumn harvest you can pick, eat, store, and share all winter long.

Plan Your Garden in the Winter

The New Year is a great time to start planning your summer vegetable garden. Ask yourself a few key questions before you decide what to plant:

  • Is this veggie compatible with the weather in my region, or will it have trouble growing?
  • Do I have the space to grow vegetables that need more room, such as corn or potatoes?
  • Does the soil in my space have enough nutrients to support a vegetable garden?

Most U.S. states have government-run agricultural websites that offer detailed (and free) advice, guidance, and planting schedules you can use as your garden’s cheat sheet. Choose veggies that will thrive in your region during the summer months. Different climates have different humidity levels and the warm summer weather lasts much longer in some regions than it does in others.

Start Your Plants Indoors

Once you select what you want to grow, start your seeds indoors. Use rich potting soil and fertilizer and plant your seeds in small pots. Make sure to house them somewhere warm in your home with plenty of access to sunlight. The idea is to keep your plants warm, fed, and sunned until they sprout. Then, in April or May depending on your region, plant your seedlings outside.

The process of slowly transferring indoor seedlings outdoors to grow is called “hardening off” and it’s a gradual process. If you rapidly remove your seedlings from their pots and plant them in the ground exposed to the elements, they may die of shock – literally.

Instead, gradually introduce your seedlings to the outdoors little by little over the span of a week. Take them outside during the day at first, and then bring them in at night. Stretch out the time they are outdoors incrementally until they are ready to spend 24/7 exposed to the elements. That’s when it’s time to plant your seedlings in the ground.

Be Vigilant

Even one missed day of watering can lead to the death of your vegetable garden. Once you transfer your seedlings into the ground, check them every single day for signs of wilting or droopiness.  Ensure you are not over-watering your plants, and that your soil has enough nutrients to get the job done.

If you follow these simple tips for starting a summer vegetable garden, you will be harvesting your very own fresh produce in no time – and you will save money and trips to the grocery store in the process.

How to Create a Modern Oasis with your Landscape Lighting

Looking for a way to modernize your landscape design?

Amidst the traditional backdrops and outdated scenery, you can “rev” up your space with sleekness and sophistication and inject a contemporary feel without much effort. A modern design will not only make you feel like you finally stepped into the 21st century, but it will also add so much character and life to your  home. Regardless of the size of your home or the space with which you have to work, modern updates will help to create a more contemporary style to match the times.

Where to Begin

The first step is to decide the purpose for your landscape. Do you want more practicality? Are you interested in keeping up with the Joneses? Do you have some modern features already built in that need to be featured? Once you devise a purpose for your space, you can come up with a plan that will help you meet your goal. What do you want the end result to look like? Without a clear purpose as to what your end goal is, your process will be muffled and you may not get the results you desire.

Contemporary Designs

Your lighting should look modern and sleek. If you prefer the modern touches, avoid lighting in old-fashioned styles like lanterns. These finishes are beautiful, but not in a modern landscape design. You will find sleeker designs if you look for lighting with stainless steel or chrome finishes or even cast aluminum with a smooth finish like our LED Tulip Landscape Light.

If you want to modernize your space even more, consider arranging the lighting in a modern way. Typically, the less ornamentation and clutter, the more modern the space will be. Space out your lighting fixtures so they are not too close together and keep everything clean and minimal. Install lighting around your patio or garden area to make your landscape the envy of many, yet completely functional as well.

Modern spaces contain horizontal and vertical lines. Swirls, circles and ornate details will edge you away from the contemporary look and bring your design into more traditional. Keep it simple and you will be much happier.

Lighting Type

The design of your lighting, though important, is not the only element of a modern landscape design. Pay close attention to the type of lighting as well. For a contemporary touch, LED lights are a great choice. Consider LED string lighting or even adding a color. Be careful, though, not to add too much color all at once. It can create a more chaotic look and pull from your sleek, modern design. White lights are the cleanest looking choice with one or two colors to add extra emphasis in featured areas.

Whatever you do, be careful not to overdo it. Modern design is all about simple and subtle looks with sleek finishes. The simplest additions can sometimes be the most effective and adding too much at one time can create more clutter than sophistication.

How have you created a modern landscape design with your lighting? Please share!

Your Spring/Summer Landscape Garden Checklist

When the winter chill begins to subside and a glimmer of sunlight peers through the clouds, it’s time to get prepared for the months where your garden will shine. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to put off the inevitable and wait for summer to clean up the garden. This will be more of a challenge for busy homeowners, though not entirely impossible. It’s recommended to start spring cleanup as early as possible.

1. Cleanup

Ideally, the earlier you can get your garden ready the better. The first signs of spring signal the best times to start working before the warm weather causes the flowers and plants to grow. The first step is to clean up the area and all the debris Mother Nature so gracefully bestowed upon your property over the winter. Besides aesthetic purposes, a good cleanup will keep your lovely garden free of mold and rot that can wreak havoc on your garden beds.

2. Pruning

Those overgrown shrubs will require some TLC. Check your plants for any winter damage and remove any signs of destruction. Broken and bent branches must be cut cleanly which will help them return to normal quicker. For other shrubs, look for growth before pruning and be sure to trim those rose bushes so they are ready to bloom in the warm months. Be careful when pruning azaleas. Though they look dried up from the winter, they are most likely ready to flower. Wait until they flower to prune them.

3. Dividing

Dividing is one of those tasks gardeners like to put off. But unfortunately, if you don’t take care of it, the plants will grow too close and the job will get even tougher the longer you wait. Look for plants crowding one another. If you only have a little time, take care of the worst ones as soon as possible and save the others for a later date. It’s even advantageous to rectify the problem the moment you see encroaching even if it is in the fall or winter. Daylilies and irises are among the foliage that often need dividing come early spring. Once you finish dividing, mark the plants so you can get a head start next year.

4. Edging

Edging is an important task for the homeowners who love the manicured, polished look for their landscape. Use an edging tool to clean up the borders and cut down grasses trying to invade your garden space. Thankfully, if you forget to take care of edging in the spring, it can always wait for the summer.

If you can manage to accomplish some of these tasks in the spring, you will be one step ahead of the game. If you are behind schedule, make a list in the summer to prepare you for the fall and spring months of the next year. Whatever you can accomplish in the fall, do it, so you have less tasks to complete next spring. Write down your tasks and try to remember how good it feels when everything is done and your garden looks beautiful. It will give you motivation to get in high gear and tackle the project, same time, same place, next year!