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How to grow Strawberries?

26 Jun

How to Plant Strawberry Plants

from http://www.netherlandbulb.com/

Pictures: Arcoiris Design Gardening

Organic Strawberries at Arcoiris Design Gardening

Step 1. CHOOSE A CONTAINER FOR THEM

Be sure the container has drainage holes in the bottom.

Step 2. FILL THE CONTAINER WITH SOIL THAT MAKES STRAWBERRIES HAPPY

Strawberries like deep, loamy soil that drains well. This means that it should contain plenty of organic matter

Step 3. GET YOUR STRAWBERRY PLANTS

Your next step is to find some plants and put them in the soil.

There are two main kinds of strawberries available: “June-bearing” and “Ever-bearing” or day-neutral varieties that can bear from early summer right up until your first frost. While June-bearing varieties can take a year to establish (you normally plant them now for next year’s harvest), ever-bearing plants will give you fruit the very first year and may allow you to extend your harvest over a period of weeks or months.

Step 4. CARE FOR YOUR PLANTS AND ENJOY

Get them some sun on the balcony, rooftop, patio or doorstep.

For optimum production, keep your strawberry plants well watered throughout the growing season, and enjoy your homegrown strawberries. Plants should continue to be productive for at least 2-3 years.

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Time to Fertilize!

17 Mar

E.B Stone

Spring is here! The time when your berries, grapes, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples and pears need to be fertilized!
I always use at my personal and clients homes E.B stones Organics. They have an awesome organic fertilizer for Fruit, berry and vines. This fertilizer is a blend of organic ingredients delivered from blood meal, feather meal, bone meal, dried chicken manure, bat guano, alfalfa meal, kelp meal and potassium sulfate. Also and most importantly has Humic acids, good bacteria and endo mycorrhizae.
On my established apples, plums and peaches, I wait for them to have the first buds coming and then I fertilize them. I work the soils around them about 4 feet diameter and mix the product with the soil. Then I water.
For my strawberries, just work the soil around and place 1 TBS of the product per plant and then water.
Instructions are different for all plants and age of plants, so even if the product is organic, please read the instructions carefully and use it as directed.

Press – Magazine Recognitions – Mom.me

20 Feb

Our ORGANIC gardens are highlighted in magazines and our gardening tips are published year around! For the last couple of months I have been writing tips and advices for home gardeners for the Atlanta Home Improvement magazine. This week I have been asked to participate on another editorial opportunity for Mom.me about Garden Fruits and Vegetables!! I will update this note as soon as I have the link for Mom.me

Atlanta Home Improvements Feb 2013 2

Atlanta Home Improvements Feb 2013 3  Atlanta Home Improvements Feb 2013 1

Where do birds sleep?

16 Jan

Where do birds sleep?

I am a bird lover and almost every day I take pictures of birds in my backyard. Some are migrating birds and some (many) others are local for my area. Today around 5:30 pm, I saw a downy woodpecker getting inside of a birdhouse, so I started searching online where they sleep. And I found out that they normally have roost holes in trees, where they spend the night. For my surprise, this woodpecker liked our birdhouse. This bird house was the nest for Chickadee family of 4 babies last spring (2012). Hereby is the picture that I took of him and some very interesting sites about where birds like to spend the night.

Downy woodpecker

January 2013 035

 

http://www.wvdnr.gov/wildlife/magazine/Archive/06winter/AvianQuestions.pdf
http://birding.about.com/od/birdbehavior/a/Birds-At-Night.htm

 

8 tips to have color in your garden through the winter

5 Jan

8 tips to have color in your garden through the winter:

1. Use pansies, violas, dusty miller, mustard, dianthus, chard, snapdragons and parsley to make your own combinations.
2.Pansies love full fun, so make sure to plant them in a sunny location.
3. Violas love sun and they will bloom in filtered shade too.
4. Violas and pansies like acidic soil. Use an organic acid loving plant fertilizer when planting and mix it well with the soil.
5. Winter annuals don’t need much water, so water them just when they are dry.
6. Violas and pansies must be deadheaded regularly.
7. Slugs and snails feed on pansies, apply an organic control and follow the manufacturer instructions.
8. When temperatures are high, aphids feed on winter annuals. Use organic vegetable oils to control them.

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5 very good reasons to plant Shrubs and Trees now (fall – winter):

20 Dec

5 very good reasons to plant Shrubs and Trees now (fall – winter):

 

September 12 053
1. No stress from hot weather.
2. Plants don’t have to expend energy on making leaves, they’ll put it into creating a strong root system.
3. Because of temperatures, you don’t have to worry so much about watering your new plant.
4. There are fewer insects and disease problems that could damage your new shrubs or trees.
5. Nurseries will have a lot of good prices for plant material.
(In cold winter areas, it’s recommended to plant six weeks before the first hard frost is expected.)

Any questions? Need help with your garden? www.arcoirisdesign.com

Colors Of My Garden – JULY

14 Aug

Tickseed ‘nana’

Verbena bonariensis

Sunflower ‘sunspot’

Butterfly  bush – pink

Hosta

Eggplant

Tomato ‘roma’

Cucumber Flower

Cucumber

Crape myrtle

Curry Plant

Bell pepper flower

Peach

Frangipani flower buds

Squash Flower

Pesticide Free Gardens

21 Feb

Arcoiris Design Gardening goal is to encourage and educate our clients to a pesticide-free lawn and garden! As most of us know, the environmental impact of pesticides is often greater than what is intended by those who use them. Over 98% of sprayed insecticides and 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their target species, including non-target species, air, water, bottom sediments, and food. (1)

Furthermore, some pesticides contribute to global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer. (2) There is many ways pesticides affect us, including air pollution or pesticide drift, water contamination caused by crop run-off, land run-off and leaching , persistence of pesticides in soil because the microorganisms are not able to degraded the chemicals, contamination of our food, kill bees and other pollinators,  animals may be poisoned by pesticide residues that remain on food after spraying,  poisoning from pesticides can travel up the food chain too,  can enter the human body through inhalation of aerosols, dust and vapor; through oral exposure by consuming food and water; and through dermal exposure by direct contact with skin.

Please help Arcoiris Design Gardening, to stop the use of harmful pesticides in our environment. Lets us show you how we can help you to have a free pesticide garden, we will very happy to explain all about our products and services at any time.

Are you familiar with this sign? Will you allow your childrem to play on this grass?

How about changing that sign for THIS one? Will you allow your children to play on this grass?

Important facts:

 “The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that 72 million birds are killed by pesticides in the United States each year”. (3)

“The USDA and USFWS estimate that US farmers lose at least $200 million a year from reduced crop pollination because pesticides applied to fields eliminate about a fifth of honeybee colonies in the US and harm an additional 15%”.(1)

References

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_pesticides

2. http://www.law.fsu.edu/journals/landuse/Vol131/REYN.HTMl 

3. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/21/BAQ21HC5CB.DTL

4. Pesticide sign picture from: http://www.psr-la.org/issues/environmental-health/pesticides/

Why is important to have an Organic Compost Pile?

12 Jan

               Composting is the biological decomposition of organic material into humus. The process occurs naturally, but can be accelerated and improved by controlling environmental factors. Garden compost is a mixture of vegetable waste materials which are collected together in a special container and left to rot down. Properly made and well rotted, the compost can be incorporated to the soil and will add nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.

             “Every compost pile is a complex eco-system of decomposition experts.  “Team Compost” consists of microorganisms and macro-organisms choreographed to take advantage of changing temperatures, moisture, oxygen and pH.  Each group has a specialty and as the conditions in a pile change, the main players change accordingly.

               The main groups of microorganisms in soil are bacteria, fungi, protozoa and actinomycetes.  These tiny little creatures are major players in decomposition.  In a teaspoon of compost, you may find up to a billion bacteria, 440-900 feet of fungal hyphae, and 10,000 to 50,000 protozoa.  In a similar but more dramatic statistic, one once of healthy soil may contain 54 miles of fungal strands.” (1)

             Macro-organisms, such as mites, ants, millipedes, centipedes, sow bugs, springtales, flies, snails and slugs, spiders, beetles, and earthworms, are also tremendously important in the compost pile. They are active during the later stages of composting – digging, chewing, sucking, digesting and mixing compostable materials. In addition to mixing materials, they break it into smaller pieces, and transform it into more digestible forms for microorganisms. Their excrement is also digested by bacteria, causing more nutrients to be released.

Micro- and macro-organisms are part of a complex food chain.

            As we all know, it is always necessary to add some organic matter to the soil to supply plants with nutrients and to give the soil a good structure. Fertilizers will provide food but not humus; only rotted organic matter can supply this.

What goes to your pile?

Any soft vegetable material such leaves, stems, grass mowing, flowers and so on.  I found this very interesting table at eartheasy.com

Material Carbon/Nitrogen Info
 Fruit & vegetable scraps Nitrogen  Add with dry carbon items
 Eggshells neutral  Best when crushed
 Leaves Carbon  Leaves break down faster when shredded
 Grass clippings Nitrogen  Add in thin layers so they don’t mat into clumps
 Garden plants  Use disease-free plants only
 Lawn & garden weeds Nitrogen  Only use weeds which have not gone to seed
 Shrub prunings Carbon  Woody prunings are slow to break down
 Straw or hay Carbon  Straw is best; hay (with seeds) is less ideal
Green comfrey leaves Nitrogen  Excellent compost ‘activator’
 Pine needles Carbon  Acidic; use in moderate amounts
 Flowers, cuttings Nitrogen  Chop up any long woody stems
 Seaweed and kelp Nitrogen  Rinse first; good source for trace minerals
 Wood ash Carbon  Only use ash from clean materials; sprinkle lightly
 Chicken manure Nitrogen Excellent compost ‘activator’
 Coffee grounds Nitrogen  Filters may also be included
 Tea leaves Nitrogen  Loose or in bags
 Cardboard without ink Carbon  Shred material to avoid matting
 Corn cobs, stalks Carbon  Slow to decompose; best if chopped up
 Wood chips / pellets Carbon  High carbon levels; use sparingly

  

When to Start?

          “You can start a compost pile any time of the year, but there are limitations during certain seasons. You can build your pile as materials become available. In the spring and early summer, high nitrogen materials are available, but very little carbon materials are available unless you stored leaves from the fall. In summer you start to have garden debris, but your mowing may be lessened due to high summer temperatures. Fall is the time of year when both nitrogen from cool season lawn mowing and carbon from fallen leaves are readily available”. (2)

How to build it?

         The Pile should be built directly onto the soil. I recommend to build it in layers of 6-8” deep of vegetables material followed by 1” of organic soil with a sprinkling of lime on top of this to prevent the pile to becoming to acid. Repeat these layers to the height you have decided on. If the weather is dry, spray each layer with water. Add some earthworms too.

 Care

          “Temperature plays an important role in the composting process. Decomposition occurs most rapidly between 110° to 160°F. Within two weeks, a properly made compost pile will reach these temperatures. Now you must decide how you want to compost. Do you want to add to your pile or just let it continue as is?

          If you want to add to your pile, you can do so throughout the growing season and into the winter months. As you add fresh material, you will need to turn and water your pile more often. Monitoring the temperature and turning whenever the piles temperature dips below 110°F keeps your pile active at its highest level, and you will have the fastest breakdown. This means turning the pile more often. This can be weekly and it is work! In reality, the average composter turns their pile once every 4 to 5 weeks. This mixes in the fresh material with the older, adds air to the pile and allows you to add water. With this method, a pile started in the fall, added to and turned the following summer will be ready in late fall of that year or the next spring.

             If you are not adding lots of new material, turn and water the pile 5-6 weeks after initial heating. Make sure to turn the outside of the old pile into the center of the new pile. The compost should be ready to use about 3 to 4 months later”. (2)

Benefits:

Soil conditioner. With compost, you are creating rich humus for lawn and garden. This adds nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.

 

Recycles kitchen and yard waste. Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can.

Introduces beneficial organisms to the soil. Microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material for plant use and ward off plant disease.
Good for the environment. Composting offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.
Reduces landfill waste. Most landfills in North America are quickly filling up; many have already closed down. One-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials”. (3)

Dictionary:

Humus:

In agriculture, humus is sometimes also used to describe mature compost, or natural compost extracted from a forest or other spontaneous source for use to amend soil[3]. It is also used to describe a topsoil horizon that contains organic matter (humus type,[4] humus form,[5] humus profile). (4)

References:

1. http://www.compostheaven.com/compost.html

2. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/building.html

3. http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.html

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humus

Website Links for Education and Solutions:

http://www.greenfoodservicealliance.org/composting

http://www.compostheaven.com/compost.html

Midtown Wildlife Paradise

21 Dec

When we first bought our 1000sq ft home at Loring Heights in Midtown, we never thought we were going to be surrounding by the most amazing variety of birds, insects, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and possums. As Nature lovers, my husband and I have planted many shrubs including native for the area, many blooming plants and shelter edgings.  When we planted trees, shrubs, and flowers around our home, we also built homes for a whole community of animals. Over the years we have provided  animals with food by planting a mix of plants that produce seed or fruit at different times of the year and by using  feeders, water in birdbaths and fountains, shelter and installing bird houses for them to nest.

Furthermore, we do not use ANY chemicals in our garden, we use organic fertilizers and none insecticides at all.

Enjoy these beautiful pictures from our backyard wildlife paradise and keep in mind that your backyard can become a better home for the wildlife already living there and a home for new wild neighbors.  

American Goldfinch

 

American Robin

 

Black-throated Green Warbler

 

Blue jay

 

Brown headed cowbird

 

Brown Thrasher

 

Carolina Chickadee

 

Carolina wren

 

Carolina wren baby birds

 

Carpenter Bee

 

Cedar Waxwing

 

Chipmunck

 

 

Common Eastern Bumble Bee

 

 

 Downy Woodpecker

 

 

Eastern Towhee 

 

Flicker Woodpecker

 

Hooded Warbler male

 

House Finch

 

 

House Finch female

 

House Wren

 

Mourning Dove

 

Northern Cardinal

 

Northern Cardinal female

 

Northern Mockingbird

 

Orange-crowned Warbler

 

Possum

 

Raccoon

 

Red – Bellied woodpecker

 

Red shouldered Hawk

 

Red-headed Woodpecker

 

Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile

 

Redstart warbler female

 

Redstart warbler male

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Female

 

Scarlet Tanager

 

Squirrel

 

Summer Tanager female

 

Tufted Titmouse

 

Veery

 

White Breasted Nuthatch

 

White-throated Sparrow

 

Wild Rabbit

 

Woodpecker

 

Yellow- rumped warbler male

 

Yellow- rumped warbler female

 

Yellow-throated Vireo