Make the most of your late summer garden with these tips

August 31, 2020 by  
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Just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean your gardening has to. In fact, late summer is when the natural world begins preparing for winter and even the seemingly far-off spring. When scheduling for your late summer gardening, plan ahead for the animals , nutrients in the dirt, the changing landscape and colors for subsequent seasons. Create shelter for animals Deadheading and pruning is a common activity in late summer before the cold winter days roll in. If you have the room, consider using those branches to create a protective habitat for animals in your area. After all, they are looking for a warm place to call home, too.  Related: Summer gardening tips for a great harvest Also think about pollinators during your plant selection process. Find native plants with a natural appeal to draw in bees, butterflies and birds, who will spread the seeds, enjoy the nectar and pollinate nearby food and other plants.  There are some pests you don’t want to invite to the party, so use natural repellents to treat the mosquitos, aphids, slugs, beetles, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, grasshoppers and other busy pests that tend to chew through your plants. Care for your soil The drying leaves and dying buds of late summer may make it look like the activity of the season has died down, but in reality, the root systems are coming to life in preparation for the seasons to come. Apply fertilizer to your lawn and plants so they don’t have to work so hard to acquire the nutrients they need. Also continue to provide water as needed. Go ahead and use the rest of the collected rain barrel water before the rain starts again. By the way, if you haven’t set up your water collection system , now is the perfect time to do so. Be conscious of other water waste that could be used in the garden. For example, after boiling pasta, blanching vegetables and canning, allow the water to cool and pour it on plants outdoors. You can also collect water in the shower or reuse bathwater. Late summer is a great time to add mulch to your plants. Not only does it help retain the moisture in the soil, but it also adds vital nutrients. Send branches through a chipper or rely on grass clippings or hay. Just be sure the mulch is weed-free or you could be planting a problem to deal with next year. Plant now and order ahead According to Monrovia , a leading nursery company, certain plants work best for late summer plantings. The company suggests the Strawberry Shake Hydrangea for creamy white to pink blooms in zones 4-8. Evolution Sedum comes in three varieties with hearty stems that maintain their stature throughout the season. Also consider the assortment of color options found in the Grace N’ Grit Roses for a long-lasting wave of color throughout the seasons. Another recommendation is the FloralBerry Sangria Hypericum, which provides fall blooms and berries. Late summer is a great time to plan for the fall , so think ahead to what you will need to plant in the coming season as well. Spring bulbs will need to go in the ground soon, so get your orders in for tulips, crocus and daffodils. Plus, go ahead and plant spring blooming trees, shrubs and perennials. Monrovia suggests Crimson Kisses Weigela for a colorful and compact plant that will bloom throughout the spring and fall. Harlequin Penstemon is a good choice for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, and Little Joker Physocarpus is drought-tolerant and disease-resistant. Enjoy the season September brings cooler evenings and mornings to most time zones while maintaining many comfortable, workable hours in the day. In contrast to blistering heat in the height of summer or the frigid cold that may be coming, late summer is an enjoyable time to dig, plant, weed and haul. Divide the load As the daylilies and hostas lose blooms and begin to hunker down for the next season, grab your shovel and begin dividing them into additional plants. A hearty hosta may have 70 or more “eyes”. Leaving them in groups of at least 12 can provide at least five new plants to share or plant elsewhere. Plus it gives the original plant more vigor to grow. This is true with many dividable plants, so get your pots and shovel ready.  Plant cool-weather crops While the flurry of gardening is typically associated with spring, many foods thrive in the late summer season, providing fresh produce as autumn arrives. Plant the same cool-weather crops with short seasons you planted in the spring: spinach , lettuce and other greens, beets, carrots, peas and beans. Feed the compost bin While you’re cleaning out the wilting summer plants from the vegetable garden, add those valuable nutrients to the compost bin. Toss in the end-of-the-season grass clippings and some of the smaller twigs and branches from deadheading and pruning existing plants. All of these ingredients will break down over winter, preparing a compost of food for spring plantings. Avoid adding any leaves infected with black spot, mildew or other diseases that can contaminate the compost . + Monrovia Images via Pete Nuij , Goumbik , Genevieve Belcher , Rudy and Peter Skitterians , Pasja1000 , Devanath , Herb007 and Albrecht Fietz

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Make the most of your late summer garden with these tips

Summer gardening tips for a great harvest

June 19, 2020 by  
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When the much-anticipated summer season finally arrives, make the most of your garden time with a checklist of ongoing tasks that will keep your plants healthy year-round. Clean up Much of your clean up might have taken place in the spring. However, if winter rolls straight into summer in your part of the country, or you haven’t had the time or motivation to tackle the task, get busy pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and cleaning the patio furniture. Avoid harsh chemicals and instead borrow a pressure washer to blast the deck, fencing, porch and paver stones. Also, tidy up any concrete blocks along your raised beds. Related: Where to order vegetable seeds online Continue to plant Again, your garden is probably well underway from your spring plantings. But in addition to monitoring the growth of your current plants, continue planting for late summer and fall crops. Plan to keep your garden producing by planting fall crops such as pumpkins and squash. Create a calendar for planting based on where you live and how long crops need until harvest. Use mulch Summer heat zaps moisture out of the soil, and many plants suffer without mulch to help them retain much-needed water. Check your trees, shrubs and flowering bulbs a few times each month and supplement the mulch as needed.  Plant bulbs Although spring and summer steal the show for flowering bulbs, the fall months can dazzle too if you think ahead. Use the warm days of late summer to plant bulbs such as autumn crocus, winter daffodil and Guernsey lily that will burst to life in the fall. Be sure to mark where you placed them, so you don’t plant over them. Install a timer Using water efficiently not only benefits your pocketbook and the planet’s resources, but it also results in better plant production. The best way to water where you need when you need is to use timers that automatically turn the system on and off. Timers can be used for complex underground sprinkler systems with several zones and also for simple drip systems for hanging baskets or berry patches.  Water  in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are cool and evaporation is less likely. Make sure to turn the timers off when rain is in the forecast. Prune and deadhead As plants continue to thrive throughout the season, they’ll benefit from a trim here and there. Identify plants that bloom early winter to late spring and prune them back during the summer. Deadhead current blooming plants as blossoms die off; this diverts the energy away from spent blooms and towards active ones.  Support your plants Early in the season, get cages around your brambling plants, such as raspberries and tomatoes . Other plants also need support as they grow, including bush beans, snap peas and flowers like delphinium. Check on your plants at least every other day to keep them in line.  Train them to climb Summer is also a productive season for your climbers, and without training, they may grow to undesirable places within or even outside your yard. Keep up with your hops, grapes, clematis and wisteria, guiding them up trellises or along wires as they reach new heights. Close the buffet for animals Your garden full of flowers or fruits is a tempting invitation for the neighborhood  animals . Summer is the time to protect your plants against critters large and small. Put up fencing around your food garden and make sure it is tall enough that deer can’t jump over it. Inside your garden, further protect plants from smaller animals that may squeeze in, such as rabbits and chipmunks. To protect against the smallest of hungry animals, keep ladybugs around to feed on aphids, move old plants to another area of the yard, use natural insecticides and place short, open cans or cups of beer nearby to draw in slugs. You can also use netting over the top of your crops to keep birds from having a free meal at the plant buffet. Feed your plants Even after your plants are well established, most need a little boost now and then to keep up energy for production. Around midseason, provide your plants with some fertilizer to help them out.  Turn your harvest into a meal plan Growing a garden can take a lot of work and money, so you don’t want your resulting harvest to go to waste. The best way to use up fresh vegetables is to plan for their arrival. You can add the tops of radishes, beets and carrots to pesto, which can be eaten fresh or frozen/canned for later. Plan to use your lettuce promptly after harvest with myriad salad options that can incorporate your carrots, beets, snow peas, broccoli, strawberries and more. The point is, as your garden produces various foods , create an upcoming meal plan to match.  Protect wood products Summer is also the time to restain fencing and decking. Apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to furniture and the garden bench. Invite pollinators to the party Pollinators such as  bees, butterflies, birds  and bats can really benefit your yard, so as summer progresses, cater to their needs. Build and install bat, butterfly, bird and bee houses. Keep the bird feeders and baths clean and supplied. Finally, plan your seasonal garden flowers around those that attract your feathered and winged friends to the party.  Start a compost pile Anytime is a great time to start a compost pile. Still, the heat of summer can help the stratified material break down faster than it would during other seasons.  Set up rain barrels Even if you have rare summer rains, getting rain barrels set up now will give you ample water when the rains return. You can then use this to water plants, the lawn or even the animals. Check your state’s rainwater harvesting laws before getting started, though. Preserve your harvest Finally, preserving food is a quintessential part of summer. Rows of canning jars, a freezer full of fresh crops and the dehydrator working overtime all represent the fruits of your labor. Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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10 ways to celebrate Mothers Day virtually in 2020

May 7, 2020 by  
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With the majority of the country continuing to observe social distancing and shelter-in-place laws, families are beginning to face a new normal of interacting for the holidays. Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and while most of us won’t be able to see our moms in person this year, there are still ways to celebrate! A silver-lining? Choosing to celebrate from home, social distance-style, can be a win for the environment, too. 1. Have flowers planted in Central Park In New York’s Central Park, hundreds of thousands of tulips and daffodils bloom every year just in time for Mother’s Day. The city is offering a tax-deductible $1-per-bulb donation so that you can plant flowers in the park in someone’s name. After you’ve made your contribution, New York City will mail a certificate or e-card to your recipient letting them know about the donation. It is an inventive way to give your mom flowers this year that will continue to grow and thrive in a natural setting, rather than cut flowers. Related: Mother’s Day bouquet and other fun DIY ideas 2. Virtual 5K Although nearly all organized group runs this spring and summer have been cancelled, many of them have made the switch to become virtual runs instead. The All Community Events Mother’s Day Run Walk is a virtual 5K, 10K or half-marathon race that you can complete wherever you’d like. If you’re social distancing from your mom, it is a great way to stay connected while getting some exercise . You and Mom can choose your own routes in your own neighborhoods or an alternative favorite running route and log the miles together. 3. Virtual wine tasting Make a list of some organic or biodynamic wines, and send a few to your mom to try (don’t forget to buy some for yourself, as well). Start a video call and taste the wines together, making notes of which ones you like the most. Once you can visit each other in person again, it will be fun to bring your new favorite bottle to enjoy together! 4. Virtual brunch Get the whole family together (virtually, of course) by organizing a Mother’s Day brunch via Zoom, Facetime or Skype. Choose a simple, healthy recipe that everyone can make themselves at home, or have each person make something unique. 5. Take an online course together Choose an online cooking, art or gardening class that interests both of you. Learn a new skill while spending time with Mom, and you might even end up with a new hobby to appreciate together once social distancing rules ease up. Udemy has 100,000 online courses and is running Mother’s Day specials through May 14, or you can browse Skillshare for classes in everything from floral decoration to interior design. 6. Meal delivery kit Make sure that Mom is eating well during the pandemic with a subscription to a meal delivery service. The food will be delivered right to her door, eliminating at least a couple of trips to the grocery store. Daily Harvest offers delicious smoothie and bowl selections that you can give through a gift card or send as a nine-item gift box. Some other popular plant-based subscriptions include Purple Carrot and Sun Basket . 7. Decorate Mom’s front door Surprise Mom and brighten her day by decorating her front door for Mother’s Day with a festive wreath or handmade decorations . You won’t have to interact in person, but it will make you feel connected all the same! 8. Online yoga subscription Everyone is looking for ways to stay in shape from the comfort of their own homes these days, and online yoga provides the perfect combination of exercise and self care. Some of the more popular subscription options that incorporate meditation as well as yoga and Pilates are Glo and Gaia , although you can always check Groupon for online specials, too. 9. Tree planting donation Give an environmentally friendly gift that grows by planting a tree in Mom’s name for Mother’s Day. Check out the Earth Day Canopy Project and help in the fight against deforestation with one tree planted for each $1 donated; the network set a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees (one for every person on the planet) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. Tree People is offering beautiful, specially designed and sustainably made Mother’s Day cards with custom messages with tree planting donations of $25 or more. 10. Host a Netflix Party Netflix’s new Party feature allows groups to synchronize video playback and chat while watching Netflix together, even from far away. Choose something inspiring like a Planet Earth nature documentary to get excited for when the world opens back up again. Images via Lum3n , Saramatos , Sofia Morin , Petra , Emily Austin and Aiokr Chen

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Bace presents Rotofarm, an automated garden for your kitchen

May 6, 2020 by  
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There’s never been a better time to grow your own herbs and veggies at home, but limited space is a common issue, especially in urban areas. In steps Rotofarm, the newest product from Australian-based company Bace, offering a compact indoor garden suitable for the kitchen counter complete with technology inspired by NASA. Apparently the idea is a popular one since, even at the prototype stage, The Rotofarm was funded in 8 minutes on Indiegogo , where you can now pre-order the device. This indoor garden works using hydroponics and an innovative lighting system that allows plants to grow without soil. Removing soil from the equation makes every step in the process easier. Plus, it significantly reduces the amount of water required for plant growth. Related: PICO microgarden lets you grow anywhere from home to car But a lack of soil doesn’t reduce yield. Rotofarm is intended to supplement your diet with 10 spaces for plants. Although the specialized system does require the use of custom Bace Seed Pods, they are designed to optimize growth while providing a sustainable option; the pods are composed of 100% biodegradable coconut fiber, not plastic. In addition to eliminating soil and designing a compact indoor garden, it was important to Bace that Rotofarm be easy to use. The goal is to be able to grow fresh produce anywhere, regardless of space or light limitations. As such, the system is completely automated and can be controlled by an app. The only thing the user needs to do is pop the seed pods into the machine, mix the nutrient base with water and pour the nutrients into the reservoir at the base of the Rotoform. The circular design makes efficient use of space, and the entire growing area rotates around a central light for consistent and controlled lighting. In addition to giving each plant an equal share of light, the rotation creates a zero-gravity system, which allows plants to grow faster than those in a traditional flat bed. The light can be quite bright, so the Rotofarm can be dimmed with an optional Eclipse cover, which reduces light pollution in the home and increases humidity inside the garden. + Bace Via Design Milk Images via Bace

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Bace presents Rotofarm, an automated garden for your kitchen

Planning a low-water garden with expert Guy Banner

April 28, 2020 by  
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For those fortunate enough to have some outdoor space, gardening has become a top  pandemic  activity. It gets people outdoors doing something constructive while maintaining social distancing. You might even grow something to eat. But as all eco-conscious people know, gardening requires water. Sometimes a lot of water. For low-water gardening tips, we asked horticulturalist Guy Banner of  Red Butte Garden  in Salt Lake City for some tips. Banner worked as a field botanist for federal agencies like the U.S. Geological Service and the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon before going back home to Utah. He now co-owns  Grand Prismatic Seed , which specializes in hardy organic seeds, and works as the assistant horticulturalist in Red Butte’s Water Conservation Garden. Red Butte is a gorgeous 100-acre botanical garden with display gardens, hiking  trails , walking paths, talks, outdoor concerts, flower shows and lots of educational displays for home gardeners. It’s definitely worth a trip once we can leave our houses again. Inhabitat: Could you tell us a little bit about the history and inspiration behind Red Butte’s Water Conservation Garden? Banner: The  Water Conservation Garden (WCG) had been a long-term goal for the garden as a response to our arid climate and regional projected population growth as well as an opportunity to create a garden space with a different feel and plant palette. Ten years of planning and preparation came before the grand opening in the spring of 2017. The hope was to create a water conservation garden that demonstrated low to no water use through design,  plant selection and gardening techniques without sacrificing high aesthetic value. I believe it has been a success. The WCG hosts plants from similar climates across the globe but there is a special emphasis on housing many examples of the beautiful and well-adapted native flora of the western U.S. Inhabitat: Any tips for people planning a low-water garden at home? Banner: There are many lovely dry shade plants, but the majority of the most colorful and structural low-water plants need full sun and warmth. They are great for sunny south and west facing garden beds.  Rocks , slopes, windbreaks, evergreens and structures can be used to create warmer sheltered spaces for more cold-sensitive plants. Low-water plants tend to need good drainage in the  soil , especially in non-arid climates. You can find out your soil’s drainage by doing a simple DIY soil percolation test, like this one from Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension:  Soil Perc. Test. To improve drainage, plant on a slope, use rock, gravel, sharp sand and coarse organic material to amend heavy clay soils and/or use plants adapted to those conditions. You can also build mounded beds with large rocks, cobble, cinder blocks, etc. inside to give height and good drainage. If you are lucky enough to have a naturally moist and/or cool garden site, ‘low-water’ plants for you can have higher water needs. Draw inspiration from your native upland flora . Those plants will indicate plant types that can thrive in your area without extra water. Newly planted and transplanted plants will have to be watered regularly until their roots can establish. Establishment can take between one and three years, depending on how slow-growing the plant is. Only the most low-water plants can establish with little to no water after initial planting. Rainfall should be considered. Plants that grow from seed or seedlings in your beds will create the best root systems most quickly, because the roots are free to grow to their fullest potential while seeking out the nutrients and moisture in your garden soil. Mulch is a great way to improve soil texture, moderate temperature, reduce weeds and retain moisture. Use well-draining inorganic rock or gravel mulches around very xeric plants that are prone to rot if their stems and crowns are surrounded by excess moisture. The spongy organic material, beneficial bacteria and fungi of healthy living soils help plants to better utilize available water and nutrients. The natural symbiosis of roots with beneficial fungi (mycorrhiza) in upwards of 90% of studied plant families help plant roots access much more of the soil’s water and nutrients than they can on their own. To improve sterile and impoverished soils use healthy compost or beneficial soil life inoculants. Be minimal and cautious with pesticides, toxic materials and repeated heavy tillage. Visit and support your local nurseries, botanical gardens, university extension programs and gardening clubs. They can be excellent resources. Inhabitat: What are the biggest water-related mistakes people make when planting a garden? Banner: One of the biggest mistakes in low-water gardening is to mix plants with high and low water needs in the same irrigation zones. This creates a lot of hand watering or drowned low-water plants. The key is to create ‘hydrozones’ of plants with similar water needs that receive the same irrigation. Another water-related mistake is to not maximize the water that naturally falls on your garden area. Unless you live in a heavy rainfall area, slow, spread and sink the water you receive by integrating passive rainwater harvesting into your landscaping . It can be particularly useful to integrate your rain gutter downspouts, create swales and basins and then hydrozone the plantings based on how much water is retained. Be mindful of rainfall patterns, leaks and potential flooding in your designs. Inhabitat: What have you learned from working at the Water Conservation Garden? Banner: It’s always teaching me new things of course but here are some of the most poignant lessons that I have learned. The amount of water used to establish many of our garden’s low-water plants is more than some of the most xeric or sandy soil adapted plants can handle; they establish better now with the lower water scheduling. The natural slopes of our foothill garden have helped significantly with drainage of our rocky, clay soils. The use of native annuals and summer drought-adapted bulbs in the garden can create a wonderfully lush landscape by taking advantage of natural seasonal moisture. People are very excited and often surprised to see the wide range of possibilities in low water gardening that we display, and it inspires me to continue to make the garden botanically interesting, aesthetic and approachable. Inhabitat: Can you recommend some low-water plants? Banner:  My current favorite low-water plants are Northern Blazing Star (Liatris scariosa var. nieuwlandii), Shasta Sulphur Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum var. polyanthum), Long trunked Spanish Dagger (Yucca gloriosa), Palmer’s penstemon (Penstemon palmeri), Smoothstem blazingstar (Mentzelia laevicaulis), Pale stonecrop (Sedum sediforme), Silverleaf Oak (Quercus hypoleucoides), Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium), Texas beargrass (Nolina texana),  Arizona fescue (Festuca arizonica), New Mexico Agave (Agave parryii var. neomexicana), ‘Frazier Park’ Big Berry Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca ‘Frazier Park’), Canyon Liveforever (Dudleya cymosa), Saint John’s Chamomile (Anthemis sancti-johannis) Inhabitat: Anything else our readers should know about water conservation and gardening? Banner: There is a lot to explore in finding the best water- conserving garden for your unique situation. While there are many general guidelines and recommendations you will find special opportunities as you dig deeper in your gardening practice (pun intended). Don’t be afraid to experiment and make some mistakes. Have fun with it! For more information on what to plant for your climate zone, check out this EPA site . + Guy Banner, Red Butte Garden Images via Teresa Bergen

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Planning a low-water garden with expert Guy Banner

Gardening Tips: How To Get Kids Involved

March 31, 2020 by  
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Spring is already pushing its way out whether you are … The post Gardening Tips: How To Get Kids Involved appeared first on Earth911.com.

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12 tips for a vibrant spring garden

February 13, 2020 by  
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When the frost begins to thaw and the first signs of spring appear, it’s time to start thinking about your garden. While it’s true that many of your plants won’t fully come to life for another six months, the more you can knock off your list before spring, the better off your plants , lawn, and schedule will be. So even if you’re still enjoying cozy time in front of the fire, consider tackling, or even preparing for, some outdoor chores during breaks in the weather. Weeding If you live in a snow-covered area, this task will have to wait, but if the thaw is on it’s the perfect time to tackle the first round of seasonal weeds. Since the soil is soft before the heat of summer cements it in, pull weeds and invasive grass for a jump start to the  spring weeding. The earlier and more frequently you pull them, the easier they are to control throughout the season. Related: 11 unique edible plants for your garden Building  If the weather outside is still too severe to work the ground, there are still ways to prep your garden from within the cover of your workshop. Plan and build trellises, arbors and raised beds in preparation for the planting season. Fencing If the heavy frost is past, dig into that fence-building project. Your post hole digger will glide through the soil much easier early in the year than it will if you wait until August. Plus, your garden space will be protected from wildlife and domestic animals before you even get the seeds in the ground. Transplanting It’s important to get your plants established before the growing season begins so they are ready to accept nutrients and thrive. Deciduous trees and shrubs still in their dormant season can be moved as long as the ground isn’t too frozen or too wet. Evergreen flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons, myrtles, azaleas and camellias can be moved once the threat of frost has passed. Organizing Even if you can’t check weeding or planting off your list, late winter is the ideal time to care for your lawn and garden supplies. Choose a reasonably agreeable weather day and empty the garden shed or supplies from the garage. Wash planting pots and allow them to dry. Clean and add protectants to tools. Also, sharpen blades and take an inventory of trimmer string and similar supplies that need replacing. Reorganize tools and supplies and donate unneeded or duplicate items to your local Habitat for Humanity reStore. Also, create a planting calendar so you have an idea of the workload in the upcoming months. Organize your seeds in a box in order of when they need planting — whether you’re using indoor starts, a greenhouse, or direct planting. This is also the perfect time to order seeds or plants. Make sure to check out your local extension office for garden plant sales nearby. While you’re in planning mode, make a list of desired projects for the year and create a workable timeline for each, complete with a budget. Edging Lawn edging is another task that is much easier in soft soil so tidy up the edges around all lawns and add a border if it’s in your plans. It will make mowing and other maintenance much easier throughout the season. Deadheading As your plants begin to rise from their winter slumber, deadhead last year’s growth as appropriate for each plant. Trim off spent blooms you may have missed in the fall, including the foliage from  ornamental grasses . Also, remove the faded flowers from winter pansies and other current bloomers to extend their blooming season. Caring for fruit February and March (if this is winter in your area) are the time to get root plants in the ground. This includes blueberries and raspberries. For fruit trees, protect them from the birds by adding netting before the fruit begins to develop. It’s much easier to cover plants and trees before they fill out with a full bloom. If you already have established berries, go ahead and cut them back now as the growing season begins. Pruning trees While we’re discussing trees, late winter is still a dormant time where trees respond well to pruning. It’s also easier to see the growth pattern of the branches so you can select which of them needs to be trimmed back. Avoid pruning spring-blooming trees  until after they have completed their bloom season. Pruning shrubs and climbers Now is also the time to trim back ivy, wisteria and other climbers as well as hearty shrubs like boxwood. Creating a shape now drops care down to a maintenance level for the season , meaning you will just need to monitor its growth, feeding, and watering. Feed the birds Even though the temperatures may be starting to level out or rise, the birds are still foraging for food so give them a handout. Clean and fill bird feeders with quality food to keep them coming back for more. Dig a pond If you have set a goal of putting in a pond or other feature, dust off the design and get digging now. Again, you’ll find it much easier to create a hole in soft soil than rock hard tundra . If it will be a while before you finish the task, make sure the hole is properly covered to avoid accidents. Via Thompson and Morgan Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou

February 13, 2020 by  
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In Suzhou, China, an abandoned amusement park is being transformed into a 74-hectare nature park that will include a decommissioned roller coaster transformed into a habitat for birds. The innovative, adaptive reuse project is the work of international firm Tom Leader Studio Landscape Architecture , who won a design competition for the park and brought on California-based Kuth Ranieri Architects for help with the design. Named ‘Shishan Park’ after its location at the foot of Shishan (Chinese for ‘Lion Mountain’), the urban park will provide a variety of family-oriented recreational amenities to cater to a rapidly growing, high-tech hub. Located west of Suzhou’s historic center, the dated amusement park received renewed attention from the government as the growth of high-density neighborhoods began overtaking the outskirts of town. Tom Leader Studio Landscape Architecture’s winning competition entry emphasizes a connection with nature and takes cues from Chinese culture and the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Classical Gardens of Suzhou. Traditional Chinese ink paintings, also known as shan shui, inspired the architecture and landscape design for the project, which includes a variety of pavilions placed along a 1.5-mile-long promenade that encircles the mountain and the newly enlarged Shishan Lake.  Related: Perkins+Will unveil plans for green-roofed Suzhou Science & Technology Museum In addition to repurposing a roller coaster into a 160,000-square-foot aviary that will house around 20 species of indigenous birds, Kuth Ranieri Architects also led the design of the pavilions . This includes the Flower Pavilion, a 4,000-square-foot tea house; the 1,000-square-foot Lake Pavilion; a 13,400-square-foot Sports Pavilion; and the series of 2,000-square-foot Restroom Pavilions. The pavilions will be strategically placed along the path to frame select views. The architectural elements pay homage to traditional Chinese architecture and include cruciform steel columns, local blue brick screen walls, tapered wood eaves and exposed wooden joints.  “The pavilions are as open as possible, framing views and allowing pedestrians to pass through as they explore the park,” according to the Shishan Park Pavilions project statement. “Through a shared language of construction, geometries and forms, this cohesive series of structures provides amenities to visitors while seamlessly integrating into the landscape.” Shishan Park will also be embedded with a stormwater runoff system to responsibly capture and manage rainfall. + Tom Leader Studio Landscape Architecture Images via Kuth Ranieri Architects

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Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou

Sherpa Light for indoor farming wins CES 2020 Innovation Award

January 27, 2020 by  
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Developed with the tagline “Grow whatever your heart desires, wherever you are,” Sherpa Light is a tunable artificial light source with the potential to replicate the exact sunlight conditions needed to grow any plant from around the world. Using tunable, full-spectrum LEDs , the device was created to emit different lighting intensities depending on the plant’s cellular structure to optimize growth. Korea-based design studio  Sherpa Space  developed the Sherpa Light and recently showcased their prototype product at CES 2020, where it was named an honoree of the event’s Innovation Award. Sherpa Space was founded to enhance plant growth through technology. The designers say that sunlight falls short of producing the optimal light settings that different plants need at different growth stages. They believe that their artificial lights, which use an adjustable combination of narrow-band LEDs, are best suited to generating the right light conditions — such as intensity, photoperiod, and quality — needed to optimize plant health, from growth and flowering to the enhancement of leaf quality and the concentration of desired chemicals in plants. “Much like how a baby first needs breastfeeding and later switches to solid foods, plants also need different lights and nutrition at different growth stages for maximum growth,” the designers said in a project statement. “For instance, flowering can be promoted in many crops by changing the wavelength given to a plant. Sherpa Space’s unique competitive advantage lies in our ability to convert light wavelengths with minimal energy loss. Using the quantum dot technology, we can provide lights of specific wavelengths optimized not only for each plant but also for each growth stage. As a result, we maximize crops’ nutrient compositions and productivity.” Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive The designers also say that Sherpa Light could be the key to recreating the desired flavor components of certain fruits and vegetables that are typically only enjoyed in the region where they’re grown. For instance, they claim that mangos grown with Sherpa Light in Canada could taste just as good as those in India. There is no word yet of when this product will be made available for sale or testing.  + Sherpa Space Images via Sherpa Space and Inhabitat

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Sherpa Light for indoor farming wins CES 2020 Innovation Award

A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam

December 17, 2019 by  
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Comments Off on A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam

In Vietnam’s coastal region of Quang Ngai, a one-of-a-kind home with a roof topped with fresh vegetables has infused new life into a rural village. Designed by Ho Chi Minh City-based architecture firm TAA DESIGN , the recently completed home — dubbed The Red Roof after its red facade and eye-catching roof — is the residence of a married couple who grew up in the area and sought a unique home conducive to their traditional cultural lifestyle. Designed with an emphasis on connecting with nature, the home features a flourishing vegetable garden on its roof and multiple courtyards for seamless indoor-outdoor living. Located along the main road of the village, The Red Roof is a compact residence of 80 square meters that stretches east to west on a long and narrow plot. Accessed from the west end, the entrance leads past a gated front yard with a bicycle repair space to a covered porch that opens up to a double-height living room. Tucked behind is a kitchen and dining area next to a small interior courtyard and bathroom. A set of stairs to the mezzanine and the rice storage area separates the kitchen from the master bedroom in the rear; this space leads to the small backyard. Related: This self-sustaining Australian home harvests its own food, energy and water A second bedroom with a bathroom and an alter room are located on the mezzanine level. The alter room has access to a courtyard and the terraced vegetable gardens on the roof. The vegetable garden not only gives the couple ample opportunities to indulge in their love of gardening and cooking, but it also helps tighten bonds with the community, who benefit from the harvest. “In Vietnamese traditional landscape, ‘the red roof’ house represented for a time of regional local architecture,” the architects said in a statement. “However, now new multi-story houses with steel roofs seem to have lost the identity of village landscape.” The architects used a stair-step method as to not overwhelm the urban landscape with another towering, steel structure. Instead, the stair-step design “establishes the communication between the space on the roof and the space under the road. ‘The red roof’ has the intent to keep, to store and remind the familiar rural lifestyle.” + TAA DESIGN Images via TAA DESIGN

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A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam

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