Gardener's Corner

Join us for tips, helps, questions and answers about the gardening world. Monitored by a Certified Master Gardener but wisdom is shared by ALL.

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Gardener's Corner

Chief Walks In Shadows is a Florida State Master Gardener.
He will post information that he feels will benefit everyone as a whole. But basically this will be a question and answer group.
Chief Walks will answer all questions asked to him directly. He has over 40 years of experience. And a sizable personal research library.

We are here to meet ALL of your gardening questions and/or related subjects.



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Comment by Chief Walks on Wednesday
Comment by Chief Walks on Tuesday
Comment by Chief Walks on February 25, 2020 at 7:15am

Turn Your Brown Thumb Green

Before you go out and start buying things to solve a specific garden problem, consider these rules:

1 Don’t ever use toxic poisons. Poisons kill, and that is not the goal of gardening. When you use a broad-spectrum insecticide, you will kill all insects, including the ones that work to your benefit. You will kill the good bugs, and it will take them longer to return to your garden than it takes the pests. Poisons make plants and people sick. They don’t work, and they make everything worse, so stop using them. Right now.
2 Weak plants are more susceptible than strong plants to pests and diseases. Often when we see a pest, we look at the pest, not the plant. Next time, look closely at the plant. Is it getting enough sun, too much sun, enough water, too much water? Is the soil poor or fertile? We know that a plant that demands sun just won’t do well in the shade, but we don’t always remember that when we look at that plant and see aphids. If you can dig up the plant and put it in a spot where it will be happy, that is the best solution. A weak plant is signaling for pests and will cause problems for its healthier neighbors.
3 Dead soil encourages dead plants. The health of your garden is directly related to the health of your soil. Soil that is not alive with earthworms, microbes, fungi, and other soil organisms cannot support healthy plants. So bring your soil back to life by adding organic material, compost, and mulch. Spraying with a mixture of seaweed, fish emulsion, and molasses will encourage those soil creatures and add nutrients to the soil at the same time.
4 Diversity protects everything in the garden. When you encourage lots of different kinds of life in the garden, you encourage all life. Pests generally hone in on their prey by smell. By planting many different kinds of plants, natives, roses, vegetables, herbs, you will discourage pests and encourage the predators that help in your fight against pests.
5 Encourage bugs. Although it may go against your nature, your best friends in the garden are bugs that eat other bugs. Ladybugs, lacewings, wasps, spiders, giant wheel bugs, praying mantises, and others are helpful in keeping pests under control. When you use a pesticide, you kill all the bugs, good and bad, and the bad will always come back first and stronger. (I said it before. I’ll say it again. It’s important to remember.)
6 Repel pests. There are several products and plants that are unappealing to pests. Planting garlic (and other members of the onion family) throughout the garden is a good way to repel a wide variety of pests. Strong-smelling herbs are unattractive both too big pests like deer and tiny bugs.
7 Have fun. Remember that you do not have to be a gardener. You do this for pleasure, for relaxation, for tomatoes, for a sense of superiority, or for a feeling of self-reliance. In any event, it should be enjoyable most of the time.

While you are working on getting your soil more fertile and your plantings more diverse, you may have problems. When looking for a product to help solve your problems, be as specific as you can. Look for something that targets your specific pest or disease. Don’t ever buy something that promises to “kill everything.” Keep seeking a balance in your garden, and you will be amazed at the results. You’ll work less, enjoy it more, and be the envy of all your neighbors.

Comment by Chief Walks on January 26, 2020 at 8:45am
Comment by Chief Walks on January 19, 2020 at 8:54am

Please don't be afraid of Bats. They are so vital and beneficial to our ecosystem. They just have a bad rap because of movie makers. They really are sweet little guys.

Comment by Chief Walks on January 15, 2020 at 8:45am
Comment by Chief Walks on January 15, 2020 at 8:05am

Helpful Bedtime Plants – How Do Plants Help With Sleep Issues
Who doesn’t need a good night’s sleep? Unfortunately, with today’s hectic lifestyles it can be hard to tune out and rest peacefully. There are several things you can do (or take) to help you sleep, but the best of these are natural. What could be more natural than plants that help you sleep? Do plants help with sleep issues and, if so, what plants help you sleep better?

Do Plants Help with Sleep Issues?
For centuries, people have been using herbs to help get them to sleep. These herbs might be in the form of teas or aromatherapy, and yes, many of these plants help you sleep.

Chamomile and lemon balm, for instance, are well known for their calming properties and find their way into soothing teas to this day. Lavender has also long been used as a calming herb, but what about other plants that help you sleep?

What Plants Help You Sleep Better?
Besides several herbs, other bedtime plants can help you get some “ZZZs.” Some of the best plants for sleep don’t need to be steeped or ground up. Take jasmine, for instance. Like the pleasant aroma of lavender, jasmine has a soothing effect on the mind and body alike. Plus, who doesn’t love the gorgeous pink to ivory blossoms?

Another beautiful bloomer with an ambrosial scent is gardenia. Like lavender and jasmine, gardenia is often used in bath salts, candles, and other aromatherapy products. They look and smell equally amazing, but that isn’t their only advantage. Studies suggest that gardenia is as potent as valium and acts as a natural sedative.

The best plants for sleep might just be your average houseplants, which by the way are anything but average. Houseplants not only purify the air but also replenish oxygen which can aid in a better night’s sleep. Aloe vera is a common houseplant, grown for not only its beauty but for its medicinal uses. Aloe also releases oxygen at night, a rarity, as many plants release oxygen during the day. Plus, aloe is very easy to care for.

With a less than desirable name to some, the snake plant nonetheless has sleep-inducing properties. Like aloe, snake plants give off oxygen at night and, in fact, according to NASA, it is one of the top 10 air purifying plants.

Another NASA recommendation is English ivy. It reduces airborne mold and is a great choice for those with allergies or asthma. Gerbera daisies, with their cheerful blooms, also reduce airborne pollutants and boost oxygen at night.

Additional Bedtime Plants to Help You Sleep
There’s no need to look high and low for the best plants to help you sleep. If you have houseplants at all, you probably have plants that will help you sleep. Common houseplants such as peace lily, golden pothos, and spider plant are all purported to aid in sleeping. Again, they purify the air and replenish oxygen all while bringing the outdoors in.

The best plants for sleep will also depend on your gardening expertise. If you have a green thumb, then plants that help you sleep but take a bit more care, such as gardenia and gerbera daisy, are for you. But if you can’t grow grass, try something a bit more foolproof like aloe vera or a snake plant.

Comment by Chief Walks on January 1, 2020 at 9:58am

Grow a Living Playhouse For Your Kids

In recent years, there has been a growing disconnect between children and their food. Most kids have never set foot on a farm or in an orchard, only ever seeing food go from the grocery store to their house to their plate. Thousands of children have never before witnessed the food they eat actually growing in the ground.

What better way to introduce this concept, and foster an appreciation for the food they eat, then integrating it into their play?

Gardening with children has so many benefits to their physical and mental health:
Body control and development: There is a lot of physical activity involved with gardening, such as carrying tools, digging, planting, and more. This helps children develop their body management and locomotor skills. There is also quite a bit of precision involved with gardening, which helps children master their fine motor skills.
Sensory development: Working in a garden exposes children to a huge range of sounds, smells, sights, and textures. The cold water from the hose, the smell, and the feel of the soil, the clinking sound of shovels and trowels, all of these stimulate the senses and allow children to experiment with those.
Language and literacy: There are so many terms and words to be learned while gardening. Younger children can learn to form words and express themselves, older children can learn reading skills and new vocabulary.
Plant and food knowledge: Growing their own garden teaches kids how to identify, grow, and take care of plants. It also vastly increases their awareness of how their food is made from the soil to their plate.
Mental health: Spending time outside gardening and in nature is good for everyone’s mental health, children included! It can be meditative and stress relieving. It provides interactive time for parents and their children to spend together, which improves both the party’s mental and emotional wellbeing and connects you as a family.
Makes your kids want to eat more veggies: Studies have shown that the more kids are involved with food preparation, in particular, the growing of those foods, the more vegetables, and fruits they will eat. Growing their own garden makes them more willing and excited about trying new foods. If your kids are involved in the process of making the food from the garden to the kitchen table, they are much more likely to eat their dinner.
Growing a living playhouse
Living playhouses are the perfect way for your children to be a part of the process of growing fruits and vegetables from a seed to full ripeness in a way that also provides them with a natural, calm place to play. Living playhouses are also relatively simple, leaving room for your kid’s imagination to run wild.

Comment by Chief Walks on December 31, 2019 at 7:04am
Comment by Chief Walks on December 30, 2019 at 7:36pm

Planting Trees In Square Holes Makes Them Stronger.

If you plant a tree in a square hole, the tree becomes stronger and thrives more than if you planted it in a round hole. So, if you’re on a mission to plant trees and save the planet, then it’s good to keep this tip in mind.

Planting In Round Holes
Usually, when people plant trees, they make a round hole, put the tree inside then fill the hole with lots of rich compost and fertilizer. However, there are a few reasons why planting the tree in a round hole is terrible for the tree’s roots and growth process.

At first, your tree will have great success as the little sapling rapidly grows new roots that spread out into the fertile and fluffy soil. But once the roots hit the poorer and compact ground at the perimeter of the hole, the roots won’t like it, and they will turn and snake along the edge of the border in search of better conditions.

When the roots do this, they create a spiraling action around the edge of the hole, developing a circular root system. You could imagine how this would look if you’ve seen a plant growing in a container. The roots will thicken and harden into a tight ring as they mature, creating a girdle that chokes the plant, and in some cases, resulting in severe stunting or death of your tree.

Planting In Square Holes

The chances of your tree surviving will increase dramatically by merely digging a square hole instead of a round one when you plant the sapling. The roots won’t develop a circular root system because, as systematic planting trials have shown, the roots are not good at growing around corners. When the roots hit the 90-degree angle of a square hole, rather than snaking around to create a spiral, they spread out of the planting hole to colonize the surrounding native soil.

Not only does the tree have a better chance of survival, but the speed of growth will drastically increase, and the tree will become more resistant to environmental challenges, like droughts.

How To Guarantee Your Trees Survival Even More
When you’re planting a tree, before you fill the hole up with rich organic matter and fertilizer, fill it up with the soil that you just dug out. Doing this will reduce the chances of the roots “container effect” behavior. It’s also important to remember to prune out any roots from your square-hole before you plant the sapling. Root pruning triggers the production of compounds that stimulate root growth.


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