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Mint: The Herb of Hospitality
The Mentha species or mints as they are commonly called include many varieties that flavour everything from appetizers to desserts. The best-known species in North American are peppermint (M. x piperita) and spearmint (M. spicata), which are highly valued for commercial use. Mint symbolises "hospitality" and can be grown in pots and containers indoors and out. In the garden, mint should be grown with a barrier around the roots, as it can be extremely invasive. Most mints do not come true from seed so it is best to purchase plants from a nursery or garden centre. Fresh mints are a source of Vitamin C and pro-vitamin A.
Peppermint and spearmint are perennials growing 12 ? 36 inches (30 ? 90 cm) tall although some mints are ground hugging. Produced at the end of square stems, terminal spikes of dainty lilac, purple, pink, or white flowers usually bloom in mid-to-late summer. Cultivation requirements for growing mint: grows best in moist, deep, loosely textured sandy soil; full sun but will do well in partial shade; keep well watered; pinch off flowers to promote bushy growth; and if growing indoors, fertilise with an organic fertiliser at half-strength every 3 or 4 weeks. Where winters are harsh, mulch with straw or leaves to protect your plants.
Mints have creeping roots that require sufficient room to develop. When establishing indoor plants, pot up in good houseplant soil and sufficiently large containers to accommodate their root system. To bring indoors for the winter, check for insects, and spray with soap and water if necessary. To harvest and prevent indoor plants from getting scraggly, keep the stems cut back to 5 inches (13 cm). This will also keep the plants from blooming and ensure tastier leaves.
Indoor mints require at least 5 hours of strong sunlight daily. Grow them on a southern or eastern exposure. If you are growing them on a windowsill, rotate regularly to ensure each side receives equal amounts of light. Better yet, grow them under fluorescent lights hung 6 inches (15 cm) above the plants and leave on for 14 hours a day.
In the garden, mint is a good companion to cabbage and tomatoes. Mint deters cabbageworms and spearmint may help keep aphids off nearby plants. Mints attract bees so planting them near fruit trees will improve pollination and increase yields. Add fresh mint leaves to water in the birdbath to keep the water attractive for birds. In the kitchen, use mint with roast lamb or fish, butter, salads, cheese, fruits, fruit salads, jellies, soups, sauces, plain meats, poultry, stews, sweet dishes, teas, bean and lentil dishes. Add fresh sprigs to cooking water of peas, carrots, fresh beets, new potatoes, and in vinegar. Mint flowers can be used in salads as well as garnishes for desserts. In Middle Eastern dishes, mint is used for cheese pastry fillings, yoghurt dressings, and stuffings for vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. Mint tea is useful for soothing upset stomachs. To brew a cup, use 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried leaves or 3 teaspoons (15 mL) crushed fresh leaves in 1 cup (250 mL) of boiling water. Steep to taste. Mint can be dried or freeze leaves in butter, oil, or ice cubes.
Gwen Nyhus Stewart, B.S.W., M.G., H.T., is an educator, freelance writer, garden consultant, and author of the book The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace ? Gardening For The Soil, Gardening For The Soul and the booklet Non-toxic Alternatives For Everyday Cleaning And Gardening Products. She owns the website Gwen's Healing Garden where you will find lots of free information about gardening for the soil and gardening for the soul. To find out more about the books and subscribe to her free Newsletter visit http://www.gwenshealinggarden.ca
Gwen Nyhus Stewart © 2004 ? 2005. All rights reserved.
A Bit About Bare Root Roses...
Scents from the rose garden filling the air as you walk by... it's a lovely summer scent that you can enjoy every year. Many gardeners know that the rose is referred to as the queen of all flowers, and you can see the history in the rose by traveling back in time to Europe. The rose is a plant whose scent predominates the historical gardens all over the world. Historical gardens in Europe include the use of Roses, Peonies, Honeysuckle, and a few other strongly scented plants. The rose creates the feeling of royalty, color, and elegance all in the same instant
Selling Your House? Trim Your Shrubs!
Shrubbery and other greenery that has an unkempt appearance can often be misconstrued as a sign of neglect, and gives a bad impression of your house overall. Prospective homebuyers who see shrubbery that has not been well maintained may not even be aware of their observation, but it will have an impact on the way they view your property as a whole.
Taming Your Outdoors
Slapping yourself silly trying to keep mosquitoes from biting you? Besides causing irritating itching bites, mosquitoes can also carry and transmit several diseases including the West Nile Virus. Although you cannot get rid of every mosquito, there are many ways to protect yourself and those around you.
An important addition to any British back garden, the greenhouse is firmly established in the British way of life. It's probably the inclement weather that drives the british gardener 'inside'. If you are visiting this site then you are probably thinking about obtaining a new greenhouse. It is possible you don't know the type of greenhouse you need or even how to decide on the type of greenhouse. This site has a series of articles on many of the different things to consider when installing a greenhouse.
High Intensity Discharge Grow Light (Generic)
HID lamps are categorized in three groups :Mercury Vapor , Metal Halide, and Pressurized Sodium. For plant cultivation, Metal Halide (MH) or Pressurized Sodium (HPS and LPS) are the ones commonly used in grow rooms.Mercury Vapor - Mercury Vapor lamps are common, but they are not the most energy efficient for lighting plants or anything else. Mercury Vapor lamps have an average life of 24,000 hours. A black coating that deposits it's self on the inside of the bulb decrease light output after a significant amount of use.
Adirondack Chairs - The Proper Way to Care for Them
The Adirondack chair is unlike any other chair every made. First designed by Thomas Lee in the early 1900s, this chair is amazingly comfortable, very affordable, and a chair that could easily be used for indoor furniture or outdoors by the pool or perhaps on the deck or patio. The overall design of this chair is so unique and interesting. Although there are many great aspects of the Adirondack chair, the favorites include the deep seat, curved back that wraps around the body, and the wide armrests, perfects for holding a favorite drink or providing a place to set a book.
Three Stumbling Blocks to Growing Grapes in the Backyard
Are you one of those home gardeners that don't know the three stumbling blocks to successfully growing grapes in your backyard? Don't worry, you're not alone.
Homemade Hydroponics System Plan
Building your own water works system is quite simple and can be fun, if you know how to follow instructions. This particular type of system is best suited for water loving plants such as lettuce. Only a few items are required to get you up and running in no time. The things you will need to build a water works hydroponics system are listed below.
Choosing Pond Plants
A pond without plants is like cake without icing. Pond plants fight algae, give fish a hiding place against predators, and beautify our own little slice of paradise to plunk down in at the end of a tiring day.
Build a Rain Garden
There's a new garden in town. It is (mostly) easy to install, looks good year-round, requires almost no maintenance and has a terrifically upbeat impact on the environment. No wonder rain gardens are such a great new gardening trend!
Selling Your House? Mow Your Lawn!
A property that has a well manicured lawn has one of the best chances at showing pride in ownership than any other outdoor technique.
Themes of Shade
A Shade Garden can be created in any of several different types of shade. It can be in the mottled shade that comes from a broad leaf tree to the deep dark woods mentioned in Robert Frost's "Stopping by A Woods on A Snowy Evening". We have morning shade (not so good for a shade garden if this area gets afternoon sun - it will much too hot and drying) and afternoon shade. And we can even create or modify our shade with man-made constructions. Each type of shade supports different types of plants although there is over-lap. Of course, you should always be prepared to experiment with your garden.
The Protea Family (Proteaceae)
The protea family (Proteaceae) includes a wide range of ground covers, trees and shrubs that often make superb garden plants. While some of the species are frost-tender, they are in all other respects remarkably resilient plants that often thrive in situations where others would rapidly succumb. Poor soils and hot dry positions that scarcely seem capable of supporting life are often ideal for Proteaceae. If any plants could be said to thrive on neglect the proteas can.
Fall is the Time to Get Your Garden Trees and Shrubs Ready for Winter: Heres What to Do
Tips for winter care of trees and shrubs
If you look closely at the natural landscape, you'll never see a large area populated by a single species. Why then would it make sense to plant a single crop in a field or in a section of your garden? It doesn't. Companion planting makes a lot of sense.
Early Spring Garden Guide: What To Do In The Yard And Garden Now
Can't wait to get back to the garden? Use this handy spring garden guide to get started. Believe it or not, the key is avoid getting too impatient and doing certain jobs too soon. Early spring jobs: in the yard Start winter cleanup of the lawn when the grass is no longer sopping wet and planting beds stop being a sea of mud. Rake your lawn to get rid of dead growth, stray leaves, twigs and winter debris and let light and air to the soil level, encouraging the grass to grow. Re-seed bare or damaged patches of lawn. Scratch up the soil with a rake first. Mix a shovel of soil with a couple of scoops of grass seed and spread in the patch you're fixing. Rake level and keep well-watered until seeds germinate and the new grass establishes. Remove tree guards or burlap winter protection from any young trees or shrubs. Try not to leave tree guards in place over the summer. They keep rabbits and mice from nibbling on tender bark over the winter, but trees don't need them in summer. They don't allow enough air movement around the base of the trunk and that can promote rot of the bark. Transplant any existing shrubs you want to move before they begin to leaf out. Weeds start growing vigorously early, so when you spot them, go to it. Getting on top of the weeding now means a lot less work later. Weeds are easier to pull out while their roots are still shallow in early spring. Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees, magnolias, crabapples and shrubs such as euonymous to control scale insects and other overwintering pests. Use this organic pest control method when the buds are swelling but the leaves haven't opened yet. Apply when temperatures are between 40 and 70 degrees F (4-21 degrees C). Get your lawn mower checked and its blades sharpened if you didn't get the job done in late winter. Sharp blades cut better and leave your lawn grass healthier. Early spring garden jobs: In the flower garden Don't be in a rush to remove winter mulch or to cut back evergreen plants such as lavender until temperatures are reliably warm. Freeze and thaw cycles over the winter may given some of your plants the heave-ho. Replant any perennials that the frost has heaved out of the ground as soon as you can. Cut back any remaining dead perennial foliage from last season (trimmings can go into the compost). Cut back ornamental grasses to about 10 inches from the ground. Remove winter protection of mounded earth from roses. Prune rose bushes before they start to leaf out. Resist the urge to start digging in your flower beds too early. You can damage the soil's structure. If you pick up a handful of soil, it should fall apart, not stick together like glue. When it's dry enough, you can start to dig beds and add compost or manure in preparation for planting. Grass growth is vigorous in the early spring garden, so edge your flower beds with a sharp trench between them and the grass to keep it in bounds. Repeat this job a couple of times through the season, or installing permanent edging goes a long way towards having a lower maintenance flower garden.
Protecting your Garden Pond from Pesky Predators
Notice any fish disappearing lately? While herons are present year-round, water gardeners notice the challenges they bring to the pond in spring and early summer when herons feed their young.
Funky Garden Plants 2
What's a perennial garden plant that blooms in the winter? A hellebore! It is an outdoor plant that is shocking to see blooming sometimes in the snow. There are many varieties. They are perennial which means they come back year after year.These are best planted in shady areas, but where they will get sun in the winter, for instance under leafed trees or something of that nature. What is so unusual about hellebores is that they bloom somewhere between Dec. and March. There are very few plants that do that! One variety is called a Christmas Rose. These plants usually must be puchased at a nursery. Check out your local nursery for this wonderful family of plants.
How to Decorate your Outdoor Space without Breaking the Bank
Noted English clergyman Sydney Smith (1771-1845) is quoted as saying, "Economy in the estimation of common minds means the absence of all taste and comfort." But finding thrifty ways to decorate your outdoor living space doesn't mean you have to sacrifice either of those things. Here are some ideas to help you:
Why You Should Always Have Garden Furniture
You've put a lot of work into your garden, from planning to digging to weeding to all the little tasks that keep it looking beautiful. Sharing your garden with others is the next step, and doing that requires more than pretty rows of plants. You created a garden to enjoy, didn't you? Imagine your garden in use - garden benches and patio furniture to provide places for people to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Choosing garden furniture can be the ultimate expression of your pride in the garden you've grown.
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