Spring Garden Projects You Can Do Now

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring was late in coming to much of the U.S., but now that it’s here, there’s likely very little time to get all of your spring garden projects done before summer starts in earnest. Here are five things that you can do now to be ready:

1. Clear drainage areas and ditches.

Over the winter, drainage areas become clogged with leaves and other debris; this material should be cleared from the drainage areas and ditches on your land and added to your compost.

2. Make repairs to raised flower and garden beds.

Depending on the materials used to build your raised garden beds, you may have wood rot issues. Now is the time to replace rotted or sagging boards. To make your raised bed sturdier, and to make it easier to create new raised beds, use our quick corners. This is also a good time to inspect trellises before vines begin growing back.

3. Reap the benefits of your composting efforts.

Use your compost to add mulch to gardens, flower beds and around trees (being sure to keep a few inches away from the trunk). Not only will mulch give new growth a boost of nutrients, but it can also help prevent weeds.

4. And speaking of weeds…

Early spring is a great time to rid your garden of weeds, as their roots are fairly shallow and they’ll be easy to pull. As you work, assess the soil and look for signs of grubs or other infestations that you can tackle now.

5. Prep your lawn.

Many landowners are moving away from ornamental lawns, replacing the space with gardens or drought-resistant plants. If you do have a lawn, however, now is the time to rake. Remove all of the leaves, branches and other debris from the surface of the lawn, and loosen the top layer of soil for better aeration. Identify bare patches that need re-soiled.

Spring has sprung. What’s on your list of to-dos this week?

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Spring Planting Guide from Barnyard Products

spring plantingSpring has sprung for most of the country, so we’ve put together a Spring planting guide to help you take timely advantage of the pleasant weather.

Bulbs

While most bulbs are planted in the fall, to bloom in the spring, there are several summer bloomers that you can plant now to enjoy later in the summer. Consider dahlias, lilies and gladioli to add some variation and color to your flower garden.

Perennials

Hopefully you’ve spent the fall and winter creating a lovely batch of soil in one of our composters. The better your soil, the better your perennials will thrive. When to plant perennials will depend on your location; some areas are suffering a delayed spring and should wait until the threat of frost is behind them. If you have existing fall perennials that need split or cut back, now is the time to do so. Wait to transplant or divide spring perennials until after they have bloomed.

Vegetables

While most planting guides suggest that tomatoes can be planted as early as May 1, we suggest waiting until after Memorial Day if you live in the East, Northeast or Midwest. Otherwise, you still run the risk of a frost damaging or killing your plant. Along with tomatoes, hold off on eggplants and peppers as well. However, it’s a good time to get squash, cucumbers and beans planted (or started indoors if spring is slow to arrive).

Trees and Bushes

Trees and bushes can now be safely planted in most parts of the U.S. Use compost or fertilized soil for planting, and water regularly during the first few weeks. If you live in an area with an ongoing drought, be sure to water your trees at least weekly.

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When In Drought…

lossless-page1-800px-NRCSAR83004_-_Arkansas_(271)(NRCS_Photo_Gallery).tifWhile some of us in the Midwest have been concerned that spring may never come, there are now signs that spring will indeed return to the region.

In the meantime, people in other parts of the country are not only enjoying warmer weather already, but they are also worrying about drought and how to keep crops alive with lower-than-average snowfalls in the mountains. California in particular is facing extreme water shortages.

While it might not seem like much, each person can do his or her part to save water and ensure that farmers get the water they need to help keep us all fed.

Reducing Water Use in the House

When everyone does their part, little things, such as turning off the water while brushing teeth, can make a big difference in water consumption, and installing low-flow toilets and shower heads can make an even bigger contribution to those efforts. While you’re at it, turn off lights when they are not in use, and disconnect your electronics at the end of the day to save power.

Reducing Water in the Yard

It may be time to stop worrying about a lush, green lawn, especially if you live in a water-shortage area. You can landscape your yard so that it uses less water yet is still extremely attractive. In fact, some gardeners have become adept at creating landscapes that are capable of thriving on rainwater alone, even when there is very little of it. Organic Gardening has a great guide for creating a “water-less” landscape.

Reducing Water in the Community

Organizations need to do their part to reduce water consumption, too. There are several steps that organizations can take to reduce water consumption, including monitoring how much water they are using and recycling waste water.

Even if you live in an area that has been inundated with snow, we all will suffer the consequences of drought when food from farmers is less plentiful and food costs go up. Do your part!

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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

A Farmer’s Work Is Never Done

farmer morgueYou would think that the long winter in the Midwest would give every farmer a break, but that’s not the case. In fact, the record-low temperatures combined with the extra snow and ice have probably made most farmers in the Midwest at least consider, for a moment, a career change.

The challenges that farmers face during winter are enormous, especially when the weather is unexpectedly colder and snowier than the average, as this winter has been. If animals live on the farm, farmers must cope with the daily battle to keep them warm, protected from the elements and properly hydrated (made even more difficult by freezing pipes).

As spring begins, the days only get longer for the farmer, who, besides maintaining livestock, must also begin planting crops. Some farmers have already started plants in greenhouses, and many more crops will be planted soon. Winter is also the time when farmers must repair equipment and catch up on the business aspects of farming that may have been put aside during the busy summer and the fall harvest, including filing taxes and renewing agreements with vendors and customers.

While many of us have spring fever and can’t wait for a moment to get out in the garden and get our hands dirty, farmers are often looking at spring as just a longer piece of daylight in which to get the work done.

Even though there is a lot of work, we don’t know a single farmer who would trade what he or she does for an office job. There’s simply something satisfying about working the land, and we’re proud to be able to provide high-quality, American-made farm tools and supplies to make the job a little easier.

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Prep Now for Flower Beds and Vegetable Gardens

USDA_PHZM_2012_650x500The temperatures have finally risen above freezing and in most places, the snow has melted enough that you can actually see the yard you once remembered having. If you have been staring longingly from the window waiting for the right time to start getting your hands dirty and plant flower beds and vegetable gardens, this weekend is a great time to start doing the prep work for your garden. It’s time to spend a day curing your spring fever!

Start Your Seedlings

While it may be too cold to begin planting outside, March is a great time to start your seedlings inside. Onions, vegetables and even flowers can be started from seed inside, to be ready for planting outside later. Use egg crates or other small containers as well as soil from your compost bin to plant the seeds.

Scope out Your Yard

Step outside. Breathe in the air. Feel the hint of warmth coming from a much closer sun. Then, walk around your yard and take a look at what growth you’re already getting. If you have crocuses or other early bulbs already poking through the ground, but more cold weather or heavy snow is expected, protect your plants by placing something over them to shield them from the snow. You can use old plastic cups turned upside down, buckets or anything else that will safeguard the delicate starts.

Prune Cautiously

Not everything can be pruned this time of year, but if you have ornamental grasses, now is a great time to cut them back. This is also a good time to prune oak trees if you have not already done so. You want to catch them before the new growth begins in earnest.

Prepare for Planting

When you plant will be determined by where you live and how soon the ground will remain warm enough to protect your plants. We recommend using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map as a guide. The map is now interactive, so you can click on your region or state for more detailed information.

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3 Factors to Consider for Container Gardens

containerYou can grow just about anything in a container, so limited space should not keep you from having a vegetable or flower garden that you love. Whether you want to grow container gardens of herbs close to your kitchen for the perfect spaghetti or grow roses in containers in the house so that you’ll always have a romantic bouquet on hand when you need one, there are three factors that will help you have success, even if your thumb isn’t very green.

Container Gardens Need Drainage

When you are working with containers, one of the most important factors to consider is drainage. Whether the plant needs a lot of water or barely any, you will still want to make sure you have a layer of river rocks at the bottom of large containers and all containers should have a drain hole.

Container Gardens Need Light

Choose places for your containers that give your plants the light they need. Some will need full sun while others will only need a few hours of sunlight each day. Observe how the light comes into your home and choose the location that best suits what you’re trying to grow.

Container Gardens Need Water and Soil

Particularly when you are first seeding your container garden or have transplanted small sprouts, water lightly but often. You can ensure plenty of nutrients for your container plants by using soil from your composter for planting. Supplement with natural nutrients like eggshells, coffee, and even veggie scraps.

Containers are not just for those with limited spaces; they can be used to add visual interest to any outdoor landscape as well. Consider adding containers to your garden to contain the growth of plants like mint or lavender that might otherwise choke out other plants.

If you’re planning a container garden this year, share your photos with us on Facebook!

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3 Landscaping Ideas to Freshen Up Your Yard

Even if you still have a layer of snow on the ground, as we do here in Ohio, it’s that time of year when we all start yearning to be outside more. From planting gardens and crops to hosting backyard barbecues, signs of spring fever are now becoming clear. (Please, Punxsutawney Phil, don’t see your shadow!)

This is a great time of year to start thinking about the changes you can make to your landscape. Whether you want to add raised garden beds or create a home paradise escape, now is the time to start planning. Here are three landscaping ideas that you can use to create your vision of paradise.

  1. Ponds

pondFrom the soothing sound of bubbling water to the youthful joy of having your own goldfish and koi, a pond is a great option for your backyard space. If you’re ambition is to have a large pond, consider using a windmill for aeration. Aeration is critical to the health of your fish. And depending on where you live, you also may need to invest in an artificial owl to keep birds from preying on your fish or netting to keep raccoons away.

  1. Grill, Baby, Grill

grillNo backyard space is complete without a grill or smoker (or both!). You can host backyard parties and truly enjoy the spring, summer and fall with a grill. To create an inviting space, add plenty of lawn furniture and some shade-providing plants and trees.

  1. Grow Your Own Food

dripThere’s nothing that tastes better than a salad made from greens and veggies grown in your own garden. Whether you have a huge plot of land or can only carve out a small area, growing your food is a great way to lower your grocery bill and encourage your kids to eat well and become involved with the environment. And gardening can be easier with a drip irrigation kit, which makes keeping your veggies hydrated all summer a snap.

What plans do you have for landscaping your yard this year?

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Creating Raised Garden Beds the Easy Way

Also referred to as garden boxes, raised garden beds provide the perfect space for growing small plots of vegetables or flowers. The benefits of a raised bed include fewer weeds, better drainage, and fewer issues with slugs and snails. Raised garden beds also make it possible for gardeners who live in colder areas of the country to plant earlier, because the soil is warmer.

quickcornersA raised garden bed can provide the perfect garden space just about anywhere, even if you have a relatively small space to work with. And your green thumb may or may not come equipped with carpentry skills. But rather than struggle with creating and building your own raised garden bed, you can make it easy on yourself by using quick corners.

Quick corners are the quick and easy way to transform your stack of 2x4s into a raised garden bed, no real carpentry or geometry skills required! It makes it possible to build your raised garden beds in minutes instead of hours. If you are new to gardening, have only a small amount of space to work with or simply like the look, a raised garden bed is an easy way to start growing some of your own foods, herbs and flowers.

Even though it’s still winter and many of us are still dealing with frozen soil and winter storms, you can begin putting together your raised garden squares in your shed or garage so that they’re ready to put out at the first sign of spring. If you’ve been composting, you will have the rich soil you need to get started too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnlike container gardening, where you have to be concerned about drainage, raised garden beds do not have a bottom to them, so you can plant perennials, as well as plants with long roots that need additional nutrients from the soil beneath the garden space. They look nice, too, and you can assemble an entire series of raised garden beds, to create a unique look in your yard. Add a decorative garden windmill to give your space a finished look; then, sit back and enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor!

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Winter Yard Work, Part 2

While it would be nice to curl up with a good book in front of the fire and watch winter from the comfort of your window, there are always chores and winter yard work that need to be done during these frigid months, whether you are a city dweller with a green thumb or you have a working farm.

Composting

If you really want black gold for next season’s planting, you can’t ignore your compost pile during the winter. Compost requires regular turning to help encourage the waste to break down and release the nitrogen that will enrich the soil. A turning fork can make this job a lot easier, unless you’ve already discovered our compost bins, which can help get you back to your book in no time.

Clearing Snow

You may have a mile-long driveway to plow or just a few sidewalks to shovel. In any instance,  snowfall results in the need for snow removal. And if you have animals, it’s even more important to keep paths clear and ice free, for their safety and so you can get to them easily to provide fresh food and water. Winter is also a great time to do small projects to make life easier, like adding a coat rack to your mud room or garage, to store wet and muddy coats and jackets.

Preparing for the Planting Season

As winter progresses and the blues begin to set in, it’s a great time to start thinking about the next season’s garden. In fact, you can start creating your containers for a raised garden, which not only adds attractive landscaping but allows even those gardeners with smaller spaces to experience the joy of gardening.

How do you survive the winters that separate your growing seasons? Do you do any indoor gardening to help keep your thumb green? Share your ideas for keeping the winter blues away!

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Winter Yard Work, Part 1

While you might not spend as much time outside during the winter months as you would during the warmer ones, there is still plenty of winter yard work that needs to be done around the home or farm to keep things going during the winter. In this post, we’ll discuss ways you can prepare your home or farm for the winter season; in our follow up, we’ll talk about yard and garden chores you should continue doing throughout the winter.

Trees and Bushes

When the trees lose their leaves, it’s a great time to prune. Unobstructed by leaves, you can clearly see where limbs need to be thinned, and because the tree is dormant, you don’t risk damaging the tree. While not all trees can be pruned in the winter, many of them are best pruned this time of year. To protect bushes from harsh cold and wind, cover them with burlap; other plants and tall grasses should be cut back. Clippings can be added to your compost pile.

Equipment and Vehicles

Before the harsh cold of winter sets in, make sure that you change the oil in your vehicles, and perform any repairs to farm equipment so that you’re ready for the next season. Purchase and replace any winter tools you will need, such as snow shovels and pruning sheers. Also, consider investing in security cameras to help you monitor livestock and protect your property.

Turn Off and Disconnect Hoses

Frozen pipes can be one of the most frustrating winter problems, but by disconnecting hoses and turning off water supplies, insulating pipes and taking other measures to prevent frozen pipes, you can survive even the coldest winter without this issue. When you’re disconnecting hoses, assess them for damage. This is a good time to replace your hoses with drinking-water-safe hoses before the next season.

What do you do to prepare your home or farm for the winter season?

 
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