Hydroponic Basics, Hydroponics

12 Ways to Prepare Your Garden for Winter

12 Ways to Prepare Your Garden for Winter

The cold conditions associated winter months can devastate your garden plants. Shrubs and perennials can suffer and diseases may spread to annihilate your garden. Besides, you cannot give your best to the garden due to the chills and rains common during winter. Only by preparing adequately can you get your garden through winter so that it blossoms and looks better during spring. Here are 12 ways to prepare your garden for winter.

1. Leave Your Plants Alone

Leave the vegetables and flowers in your garden in place to die back on their own just like it happens in nature.  The leaves and stems of the dead plants cover the soil. As plants decompose, nutrients will return to the soil and their root systems. The improved soil fertility makes the garden ready for spring. Do this only if you do not care about aesthetics during the off season.

2. Clean Paving and Paths 

There will be lots of dry leaves and debris once the trees are bare. Get rid of them while everything is still crisp and dry. Also, clean your pavement thoroughly with hot water and scrub with stiff brush before the frost sets in. This will reduce slipperiness of the paving and make it safer during the wet months. A good alternative to scrubbing is to give your pavement and paths a blast of pressurized water.

3. Tend To Your Trees and Shrubs 

Prune any misshapen limbs and branches on your shrubs to improve their shape. You can also give your hedges trim if necessary just before the frost arrives. Get rid of diseased, dead, and destroyed branches to your trees. This prevents stems from rubbing against one another and forming deformities or wounds. You can look for trees with brightly colored barks to give your garden a facelift during the winter months.

4. Take Care of Your Borders

If you have herbaceous perennials in your border, cut them back as close to the ground as possible as they start to die down. Also get rid annuals that have completed their growth cycle. Clean your borders by getting rid of any dead leaves, foliage and weeds.

Clip the edges of your lawn and used items from your perennials. However, spare anything with beautiful and attractive seed heads. The latter will look breathtaking in frosted state. Also spare deciduous grasses. You can leave them till February since their dead leaves protect the crown of such grasses.

Empty your compost bins of their rotten contents. Spread the contents over the fresh soil to make it ready for the spring. The compost will also make the soil more attractive during the deficient winter months. In all you do, ensure you broaden your borders by using an edging iron.

5. Repairs Structures In The Garden 

You probably will not be able to do any repairs on your garden structures during the colder months. Therefore, do it before the frost sets in. Cutting down your structural shrubs, trees and borders will give you access to your garden structures. Perform the maintenance required on your fencing, farmhouse, ponds, water features, and greenhouse. Pay more attention on any pest infestations or decaying timber. Initiate appropriate corrective measures immediately.

6. Clean Your Pond And Other Water Features 

Use a net to temporarily cover your pond and other water features during the fall. This will prevent the pond or water feature from clogging up with foliage.  In case you have not cleaned such establishment for a while and it begins to look murky, late autumn is the best time to tidy it as many creatures begin to go dormant. If fish resides in the pond, ensure the water surface does not freeze over completely. A good way to ensure this does not happen is to place a floating object such as a pneumatic ball.

7. Cushion Your Plants 

Tender species such as palms, agapanthus, or cannas are more susceptible to the negative effects of frost. Move the pots and containers planted with these species into your greenhouse or conservatory for the winter months. If the tender species are planted on the ground, wrap horizontal fleece around their trunks. Spread a thick mulch of tree bark around the base of the delicate plants to cushion them from frost.

Lift bare-foot the deciduous shrubs, trees and roses and replant them just before mid-March.  Similarly, lift by root balling the rest of your garden plants especially the coniferous and evergreens. You need to do these appropriately if your plants are to survive the harsh winter months.

8. Prepare Your Lawn

Use a scarifying rake to remove moss and thatch from your lawn. This will allow it to breathe and grow freely. Having large moss on your green space is evidence of poor drainage. If that’s the case, improve the drainage with lawn spike aerator. Without an aerator, a standard garden fork will also do a decent job. Combining aeration with a commercial autumn lawn feed and moss killer products will completely eliminate moss infestation.

9. Grow Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Grow your favorite spring-flowering bulbs just before it freezes. These plants require well-drained and well-fed soil. Therefore, dig in huge quantities of sharp sand and a little of bone meal for slow release of nutrients to feed the bulbs over extended periods.

Use the correct spacing when planting the bulbs. Experts say you should plant bulbs at 2-3 times the depth of the variety of the bulb. Spacing should also be 2-3 times the width of the variety of the bulb you plant. Planting a single variety of bulbs in a drift will guarantee you more magical and dramatic effect.

10. Mulch As Much As You Can

If you cannot put a cover crop for any reason, it would be a good idea to mulch as much as possible to protect your plants from frost. Doing this will possibly protect some pests. That’s fine because mulching will also protect the predators of such pests as well as some other organisms vital to the quality of the soil.

The best mulch to use is plant leaves which are readily available during the autumn. Use a standard garden rake to collect the dried leaves from your green space or elsewhere. Leaves from native plants are better suited because they are not moisture-retaining. If you only have moisture-retaining leaves, make leaf-mold or compost them.

11. Pay Attention To Snow 

It is hard to imagine the devastation extended periods of heavy snow can do to the plants in your garden. The best thing you can do to your plants to ensure they survive the cold winter weather is to knock off the snow from their leaves. This simple act can help prevent severe damage and even the possible fatalities that might befall the plants. Remain vigil when snow begins to form.

12. Create winter color and greenery 

Everything may appear white during winter, but your garden does not have to be the same. You garden can still be exciting and interesting and protected at the same time. A good way is to incorporate a few architectural green shrubs such as Phormium tenax. This will add some structure together with your deciduous shrubs such as midwinter fire (Cornus sanguine). It will also enlighten winter border with picturesque stems that are flame-colored.

Additionally, you can fill your garden containers with winter polyanthus, pansies and violas. Fill each pot with a single species. For even better results, partner these plants with perennials, evergreen grasses, bulbs and shrubs.

Conclusion

Your garden does not have to be dormant during winter. You can keep it attractive and alive by using the above ways to prepare your garden for winter. Without proper preparation, the extreme temperatures in winter can devastate your garden forcing you to start a new with the beginning of spring. With proper preparation, your garden will look great and blossom during spring. Now you have 12 Ways to Prepare Your Garden for Winter.

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Fiskars Axe Review



Fiskars Axe Reviews

When splitting wood, it is vital that you get the most out of the axe so that you're using the least amount of energy to split the wood. Its an essential part of wood processing that makes wood splitting simpler and easier. It also allows the wood to season much quickly by enabling air to penetrate all sides of the wood. Few brands are more accomplished than Fiskars when it comes to the production of splitting axes. The following Fiskars axe review is a testament to the quality and performance of two excellent splitting axes and splitting mauls currently in the market.

Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe, 36-Inch – The Best Fiskars Splitting Axe Review

 

Make every swing count with this extreme power axe. The Fiskars X27 36" axe is one axe that can allow you to split wood with much deeper chops and more single-swing cuts thanks to its performance-oriented design, features, and specifications. Here are a few of the highlights of the X27.

Nearly Unbreakable Axe

This axe is fitted with a unique fiber composite handle that is both lightweight and stronger than steel making the axe nearly unbreakable. The composite handle is not only durable, but also ergonomically comfortable so that you can use it for longer periods of time with less fatigue. The whole insert-molded head contributes to the resistance of the axe to break due to impact  and other influences. The handle will not break even if you do not use the right technique to swing, unlike other models.

Quality and Performance-Oriented Blade Design

The Fiskars X27 36" axe steel head blade is engineered with a proprietary grinding technology that delivers a sharper edge for better contact and cleaner cuts. Furthermore, the blade includes a low-friction coating that protects it and ensures it stays sharper for longer. The surface also helps the blade to power through wood and prevents the head from being stuck. The sharpness of the edge and the coating are the reasons behind the high efficiency of this garden tool.

Great Power at Impact

The Fiskars X27 36" axe brings together perfect weight distribution with advanced blade geometry, durable handle design, and ultra-sharp edge to deliver incredible power at the impact. That means one swing with minimal effort and the wood will explode apart. It is obvious that some logs are more laborious to split than others, but this splitting axe easily splits the majority of the woods that you will come across.

Think of this splitting axe as an aluminum baseball bat. The perfect weight distribution provides a maximum power-to-weight ratio that improves swing speed to multiply power. The X27’s head features a unique convex steel blade that is much heavier and larger than other models in its class yet feels lighter than you would expect.

Long and Comfortable Handle

The 36-inch X27 handle enables you to apply more force with every swing than what an equal amount of effort will deliver with a shorter handle axe. This handle length makes the tool an ideal choice for taller individuals. The handle also features a non-slip grip at the end and a vibration-absorbing chamber. That means you will not feel each wood fiber giving away as you chop.

Pros

  • Well made tool for splitting wood effortlessly and with efficiency

  • Strong, durable and nearly unbreakable​​​​

  • Very easy to control and use

  • Comfortable and ergonomic non-slip handle

  • Lightweight but powerful for one-strike splits

Cons

  • The X27 super splitter 36-inch handle is only ideal for taller users​​​​​

  • It may not work well with knottier wood pieces


The Fiskars Iso Core 8lb Maul Review 

 

The Iso Core maul from Fiskars is the axe of choice for hardcore wood splitting. The maul is so named because it features Fiskars patented Iso Core Shock system designed to reduce shock and vibration by two times. The rugged, powerful maul is one of a kind that will help you take on tough wood splitting projects while helping to minimize joint pain and muscle fatigue. Several features provide for the great performance of this splitting maul.

A Dual Purpose Forged Steel Head

Unlike the Fiskars X27 that features only the splitting face, the Iso Core maul is dual purpose. It features forged premium steel head with a splitting face for wood part and a driving face for which you can use to drive wedges. Alternatively, you can strike the driving face with another tool during splitting to help for the wedge. The dual-purpose head makes the tool extremely versatile. The steel head features a rust-resistant coating.

Performance-Driven Head Design

The Iso Core splitting maul features optimized blade geometry that provides better penetration and blasts stubborn logs apart. The whole riveted head is designed to prevent it from sliding down or snapping off even when you have to swing with maximum force. Furthermore, the driving face can be hit with another object to boost log splitting further to ensure even the knottiest logs do not stand a chance.

Performance Handle Design

This survival tool has a dual-layer handle that presents a uniquely engineered amalgamation of insulating materials to dampen any lingering vibration as well as sleeve reinforced with steel to help protect the maul against over strike damage. The Iso Core maul features handle flares designed to keep the tool firmly in your hands when swinging to avoid accidents. An insulation sleeve is designed to capture the initial strike shock before it can reach your hands allowing you to work for long periods without fatigue.

The Fiskars yet-to-be-patented strategic handle texturing presents large dimples in the resting places of your fingers for optimal grip and small dimples where the palm rests to prevent the formation of blisters. Furthermore, the Soft grip handle provides a sculptured profile to fit the natural shape of your hand for better ergonomics.

Pros

  • Patented IsoCore shock system guarantees extra comfort and minimal body strain

  • Dual purpose head provides for versatile operation

  • Inseparable riveted head means the minimal chance of breakage and guaranteed durability

  • Softgrip handle designed to create closer profile to fit your hand ergonomically

  • Handle flares provide for additional security

  • Come with full lifetime warranty reflecting Fiskars’ unwavering confidence with the tool

Cons

  • Not as aesthetically appealing as the more traditional splitting mauls​​​​

  • May not be as balanced as Fiskars X27 Super Splitting axe and a few others in its class

  • The handle (36-inches) may be too long for shorter individuals

Conclusion

It is possible to find a dependable axe that can deliver the best when it comes to wood processing for the fireplace. These tools may not look sophisticated but they feature performance and quality-oriented designs that give them an upper hand when it comes to wood splitting. Both are easy to use and they are gentle on your hands meaning you can use them even for the hardest wood splitting jobs without discomfort or fatigue. Take time and check them out. I guess you will love either or both of them. Thank you for taking the time to read my Fiskars Axe review. Share it with someone who will need it.

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Pressure Washing – Step by Step User Guide



Pressure Washing – Step by Step User Guide

A pressure washer is an essential tool in cleaning whether for commercial or home use. Pressure washing is a hit because it does wonder in keeping everything clean, including driveways, patios, lawn furniture, and even hard-to-reach areas in your property.

Pressure washers are powered either by a gas engine or electric motor. Pressure washing with a garden hose makes use of a high-pressure jet to knock off dirt away. And since it only makes use of water, it doesn’t cause serious damage on surfaces.

No matter which style of pressure washer you use, always wear proper safety gear like gloves, goggles, and of course hearing protection. Also, read the manual before using so you really have a good understanding of how to use the equipment in a safe manner so you don’t hurt yourself or anyone around. An ounce of prevention always beats a pound of “cure!”

Pressure washers vary depending on its cleaning power. They can be categorized as follows:

Light-Duty Pressure Washer

This type is used for cleaning outdoor furniture, small patios and decks, and for car washing. It has uses 1300 to 1900 PSI.

Medium-Duty Pressure Washer

Thinking of what is the best pressure washer for driveways? This type of pressure washer will work for you. Its cleaning power ranges from 2000 to 3100 PSI. On most 2000 PSI pressure washer reviews, this type is recommended for both home and business use.

Heavy-Duty Pressure Washer

This type is considered the best electric high-pressure washer in the market today, and it is highly recommended for commercial use due to its maximum cleaning power. The pressure range of this is 3200 PSI to 4200 PSI or more.

To be able to get its maximum benefit, the pressure washer should be used and handled properly. Each pressure washer machine differs from one another, but it follows the same instructions on how to use them.

Take a look at our quick guidelines and learn how to use the machine properly and efficiently.

How to Set Up and Use a Pressure Washer with Garden Hose

  • Assemble the pressure washer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For electric pressure washers, connect the high-pressure side of the hose to the pump and the other side to the water supply. Attach the spray gun on the high-pressure side of the hose and add spray nozzle on top of the spray gun. For gas pressure washers, fill the tank with the proper gasoline and engine oil.

  • Make sure you are wearing all of your safety gear including Gloves, Goggles, and Hearing Protection!

  • Turn on the water source. Make sure that you open the water source first before turning on the machine to avoid damaging the pump. Also, before you connect the power, pull the trigger on the spray nozzle to purge the system of air. You should have a nice continuous supply of water going through it before you turn on the machine. This goes for both electric and gas powered pressure washers.

  • Connect the power cord to an electric outlet. Switch on the power switch, then pull the string to start the engine. Again, keep in mind that water should always be continuously flowing through the machine.

If at first, you do not get enough water from the water source, do not be confused. This happens because the pump does not contain water yet. When you reached the desired water level of the machine, pull the trigger and start spraying on dirty surfaces.

Pressure washing the fence once in a while will make a huge difference.

  • If you wish to change the nozzle, stop the spray gun, remove the old nozzle, and attach a new one.

  • When spraying, always keep the spray gun at least ten to twelve inches above the surface at a 45-degree angle. Hold it firmly to avoid slippage from your hand.

  • To effectively clean the surface, move the spray from one side to the other until you have fully covered the entire area. To clean dirty corners, you can use the 0-degree nozzle.

  • Once you are finished, unplug the cord and disconnect the garden hose from the water supply. Spray it one more time. This is to empty the remaining water from the pump.

  • Dry the machine properly and keep in the storage area for future use. For gasoline-powered pressure washer, you can empty the fuel tank if you will not use the machine for a long time.

The green spray nozzle is commonly used for general cleaning.

Safety Tips in Using the Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are a great tool for cleaning if used properly. Just like any other types of equipment, you need to take safety precautions in operating the machine.

  • Always read, understand, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

  • Wear protective equipment like goggles, hearing protection, gloves, and closed-toe footwear to avoid the accidental direct spray.

  • Place the pressure washer on a flat surface before using.

  • Never point the spray gun at people as the pressurized water stream can cause serious cuts on skin.

  • Move out any breakable objects from the area you are about to clean.

  • Never allow children to play with the pressure washer.

  • Avoid spraying on areas with an electrical socket or power lines.

  • Use the trigger lock when the spray is not in use.

  • Do not use the gasoline pressure washer in an enclosed area.

  • Allow the engine to cool down before storing.

Conclusion

Pressure washing with a garden hose is indeed a great way to aid in cleaning dirty area of your home properly and effectively. Having a good knowledge on the proper use of the pressure washer keeps you from damaging surfaces and risking yourself to injury. Always remember, safety first. Thank you for reading Pressure Washing – Step by Step User Guide

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How to Get Rid of Ants



How to Get Rid of Ants

Just like almost everyone else in the world, at one point or another, we have had to deal with ants. And the first thing I think is what do I have to do to get rid of them asap?  They are one of the hardest working and strongest creatures in the world. They are self-disciplined, systematic and persistent. That is why ants invading your beautiful garden are such a nuisance! Behaving like intelligent brutes, these ants live in colonized societies. They live in nests, under cracks, and pavement, or in this case, they form their nests under trees and plants.

United We Stand . . .The organized behavior of ants is what makes them so hard to conquer. Where there is one ant, there are bound to be a thousand lurking somewhere near inside their nest.

Ants Are Beneficial!

Now don’t get me wrong. Ants can be somewhat beneficial to your garden in two ways:

  • Ants are predators. They can take care of many lurking insects in your garden. They also eat up dead insects such caterpillars. Overall, they’re a huge help in cleaning up the ecosystem.

  • Ants aid in pollination by carrying pollen from one place to another.

But, They Are Also Damaging Your Garden!

The deal with ants is this, there are many different species (over 12,000), some of which can be pretty harmful and hurtful. Take the example of bullet ants; as the name suggests, bullet ants’ bite is quite unbearable in terms of pain. So much, that it has been compared with being hit by a bullet! ouch!

These ants are bigger in size too.

These ants are quite larger in size too. Such ants can come in the way of gardening, picking flowers, plowing for fruits and vegetables and doing daily gardening tasks like watering the plants.

Humid gardens are the perfect habitat for bullet ants.  For people having trouble with this pest, we recommend reading about treatments of bullet ant venom for a detailed solution.

Methods to De-Ant Your Garden

There is no need to kill ants unless they impose a threat to your:

  • Garden

  • Family

  • Home

As already discussed above, harmless ants can be pretty useful. However, when in dire need of getting rid of ants from your garden, we recommend following these approaches;

  • Home Remedies

  • Professional Help

Let’s discuss each one in detail!

Home Remedies

So basically, anyone’s first call when facing an army of ants would be either to try out dear old grandma’s home remedies or seek help from the internet. In the very beginning, we recommend you try out the non-toxic methods. Natural methods that won't harm you, your pets, or your children should always be a first choice. Luckily we have compiled a list of solutions for you precisely so that you can protect yourself from the invasion of ants!

Boiled Water; you’re Ultimate Solution

The most common solution when dealing with these tiny beasts is to locate their hills, nests, and mounds wherever they are in your garden and pour boiling water directly over them. This really is a good method and you know for sure that it's safe and natural.  The best way to find these mounds can be by following the queue of ants and they will lead you to their secret safe house themselves!

In some cases this solution may need to be repeated for a few days consistently in order to achieve one hundred percent results, but it will work and the price is right!

Pipe Tobacco

Another suitable solution that most gardeners’ find helpful is eliminating ants by the use of Pipe Tobacco. First, you soak tobacco overnight and make a tea with it. Then, just like putting boiled water in these nests and hills, you need to soak the hills with this tea.

This is a sure way of getting rid of ants in the garden if done repeatedly and consistently after locating all the mounds in your garden.

Boric Acid to the Rescue

Now, this is when you trick the ants into eating poison disguised in sweet! Just like Snow White. A bit dramatic isn’t it?

All you need to do is make a paste by mixing together sugar and boric acid. Now place little amounts of this paste near the ants’ mounds. Ants love sugary sweet things! They will not eat some, but also carry it back into their mound for the royal queen. Shortly after eating this paste, the ants will begin to die because of the boric acid in this paste.

Evil, I know but works like a pro!

Vinegar

Pouring white vinegar directly into the nest of ants can kill them instantly. It’s not harmful for your garden either and delivers instant results. 1 liter of white vinegar is enough for one hill.

Plants vs. Insects

If it is difficult for you to locate the ants’ hill, you can still target them individually by placing plants that are natural repellents of ants such as scented marigolds, catnip's, tansy, garlic, and peppermint/spearmint.

Ants’ Arch Nemesis

Beneficial nematodes are the ants’ arch nemesis. This makes them one of the amazing solutions to get rid of ants. How do these microscopic creatures work, you ask? They enter the digestive tract of insects like ants, fleas, beetles, and moths, and secrete and excrete bacteria. This proves to be deadly for the insects, making them die in one to two days.

However, for this remedy to work, the temperature of your garden must be around 45 ℉. The temperature of the soil must also be regulated to lie between 40 to 90 ℉. So this method can be perfect for indoor gardens or nurseries where the temperature can be regulated.

Diatomaceous Earth

By sprinkling diatomaceous soil on a dry surface (the wetter it is, the more difficult it is to work) around the ant's path or ants’ nest can work wonders. It is not harmful to vegetables and plants. It works by drying out and killing the insects by absorbing the fats from the exoskeleton of the ants or any other insects.

Professional Help

When home remedies don’t work, you can try out different toxic methods or seek professional help.

Ants Killing Sprays, Gels, and Poison

Ant killing sprays, gels, and poison are easily available at different nurseries or home stores. The gel works exactly like the mixture of boric acid and sugar where the ants are attracted to the sweetness of gel.

Some poisons come in powder form, and some in the form of tablets. Orange guard is another liquid spray that contains orange peel extract to drive away the ants.

Caution must be observed to keep away children and pets from an area where you’ve exercised the poison. Sometimes ants can develop resistance towards these killings sprays or poison.

Pest Exterminators

If you have exhausted all your possibilities but ants seem to face off all your methods, you can contact professional exterminators to take care of this ants’ invasion at your home.

We hope you will find these tips and strategies useful in your war against these pests of nature! Remember to take necessary precautions and avoid going overboard with the toxic methods. Persistence is the key.

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