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Gardening on a Budget
When we moved into our south Anchorage log home I had glorious plans for the 1/3 acre lot. Some previous owner had chopped down every tree counting on the neighboring woodlands for green and shade. The house was near the street with a lumpy hilly and narrow backyard that ended in the neighbor's goat pen. I was young, enthusiastic and confident that my green thumb could transform our piece of Alaska into a glorious landscaped garden. Now, 20 years later the neighborhood has evolved from birch/spruce woods to suburban sprawl and I'm still working on the transformation and enjoying every season.
It was very important in those early days, to work on the cheap. With 5 small children the vegetable garden was more important than ornamentals. Composting was the only way I could afford to enrich a flower bed. What was once a necessity became a passion - creating self-sustaining perenial flowerbeds for less than $20/year.
Twenty years later, my garden is still a work in progress. I can and do spend money on plants now. And yet, gazing at my sitting garden I'm surrounded by the memories of those early days and the decendents of the first little slips of green I nurtured so carefully.
Zone 3 gardening on a budget isn't as hard as it sounds.
I started with a small clump of siberian iris that grew in the loose gravel driveway that first spring. One clump became 5, 5 became 10 and every year my irises are the center point of the growing season. With a little luck I won't have to divide my irises for a few more years, but think I know where I can add the next batch...
Near the front porch a shock of Maltese Cross is in full bloom. I rescued 3 plants from the woodpile behind the shed that first year, not knowing what they would be or how tall they would grow when cared for. I get more comments and compliments on these reclaimed wildflowers than any of the exotics I've tried. In the enriched bed, my Maltese Cross grow 3 feet tall with fist sized red flower clusters. Over the years, I've easily divided these plants and use them effectively in my borders.
More treasures that first year included a rosebush that had been nearly choked to death by siberian peas. We've called it a sitka rose but can't be sure. She's now a mother many times over as we've helped deliver healthy suckers that have grown into shrubs nearly 5 feet tall and more around.
Daisy's of course were and continue to be a beautiful pest. My oldest son took over a small "daisy garden" that I was threatening to burn to the ground. Not that he had to do anything more than help me keep the daisy's from taking over the rest of the yard, flower and garden beds!
The second summer I used my budget at a close out table from a nursery in early July. By July, nurseries have little selection and many of the plant markers have disappeared. However, this is my favorite time to shop for plants because the mark downs are practically giving plants away. Every year since, I've added some treasure from one of these sales. The first was a spreading Veronica (who knows what variety), that grows so prolifically, I can use them for garden trades every year.
The third summer I discovered wildflower seed mix. That was the end of bare spots for my yard and provided the original plants that have now been moved to more organized and cared for beds. Columbine, forget-me-nots, lupin, and several varieties of poppies continue to thrive and surprise me.
My favorite plants are are the one's that were free or practically free. The frugal gardener can find dozens of ways to create a sea of color without spending any green. Some of my most successful tips include:
A word of caution though. Many areas have laws prohibiting you from digging up native plants from wilderness areas. These natural habitats are not free-for-alls and should be left alone. When in doubt, call the appropriate government agency and ask. While I don't "steal" from state parks, I've been given the go ahead to "rescue" lilacs, rubarb, and other abandoned plants from city land taken by eminent domain before a road or bike path was constructed.
Your patch of yard can become a garden no matter how tight your budget. Just get a bit creative and never be afraid to ask for cuttings. Compost for black gold and remember to think long term. You'll never be poor when you live surrounded by flowers.
JoMarie Thomson was transplanted to Alaska over 25 years ago. Editor and Publisher of http://www.zone3gardens.com she is known to run her websites and web design company, http://www.crucibledesigns.com with a laptop from her South Anchorage garden. Beauty, JoMarie insists, inspires beauty.
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.
How to Win the War Against Slugs and Snails
Slugs are one of the most hated of garden pests. You may have spent time carefully planting out your seedlings into the bed, but when you return next morning, you find chewed leaves, the growing points nibbled away and a mass of slimy trails all around. All clear evidence that garden slugs, or sometimes snails, have been enjoying a nocturnal feast at your expense.
Adirondack Chairs - How to Choose One
In Blue Mountain Lake, New York, you will find a unique museum called the Adirondack Museum. According to the experts that run this museum, the Adirondack chair was originally called the Westport chair, named after a small town located nearby Adirondack Mountains. The design of the chair was first created back in 1900 by Thomas Lee. On a mission of designing a chair that could be used indoors or outdoors and one that was overly comfortable, he began his work, using standard boards and nails.
Iris Flowers Remind Me Of Mom!
Iris flowers always bring memories of mom to mind. Let me share with you three reasons why...
How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden
The flittering of the butterfly through your garden is no accident if you planned your garden carefully. The adult butterfly flitters from flower to flower - sipping nectar from many flowers in your gardens, while other adult butterflies search for areas to lay their larvae. It is good to take note that the butterfly garden is going to differ from other areas of your garden. Your natural instincts will be to kill off pests, larvae and creatures in the garden, but in the butterfly garden your best results are noticed when you use organic gardening: Which means no chemicals at all.
Fall Flowering Bulbs
Deciduous trees dazzle us with the brilliance of the golds, oranges and reds they display before dropping their leaves in the autumn. However, you don't have to be satisfied with autumn leaf color alone. Consider planting fall flower bulbs.
Closing Up Your Container Garden
All good things eventually come to an end and so summer is waning, even as autumn gives most of us a fresh start. I'll bet your summer container plantings aren't really benefiting, though, from the "back to school-oh I love a clean notebook" boost and aren't dying as gracefully as summer itself is. You're going to have to help them through this!
Plan Before Buying Rose Bushes
So, you have decided to plant rose bushes in your yard or on your patio, porch or balcony. Now all you have to do is go out and buy some bushes and plant them. Right? Wrong!!
Gift Ideas for Bird Lovers
Some of the best gifts you can give to a bird lover are those that have to do with birds! :)
Imagine Your Own Orchid Garden In A Pond
Who doesn't love to hear the water rushing and flowing through a very pretty orchid garden in a pond? Yes, this does not have to be only a dream. You can make it a reality.
A Look at Fall Flower Bulbs
Most people would think of fall as a season when trees are changing colors and dying. For many, the autumn leaves are our last dance with color before the dark, gray winter sets in. It doesn't have to be that way, though. Fall flowers can offer a splash of rebirth and color in a season otherwise known for falling leaves.
Why Patio Benches are a Great Place to Relax and Enjoy
Having an outdoor patio offers the opportunity and place to sit outdoors where you can relax alone on a lazy Saturday morning or enjoy a barbecue with family and friends. To enhance a patio while providing additional seating, more and more people are turning to patio benches. Although traditional patio furniture is still nice, patio benches do not take up as much room, they can easily be moved from the patio to the lawn, and many designs on the market feature compartments underneath a padded seat for storage.
Organic Roses in the Flower Garden
Many people believe growing their flowers and vegetables organically is healthier for them and their environment. It is natural that you may wish to grow your roses this way also. Using the pesticides and insecticides that are usually considered to go along with growing roses and keeping them healthy can cause many people have to health problems . Maybe you just don't want those kind of chemicals in your garden and around your children. This article will give some pointers in using more natural methods of growing your roses.
History of the Adirondack Chair
If you were to travel to Blue Mountain Lake, New York, you would come across a very unique museum called the Adirondack Museum. According to experts that run this museum, the Adirondack chair originally went by a different name - Westport chair, which was after a small nearby town nestled in the Adirondack Mountains. Thomas Lee first created the design of the Adirondack chair in the early 1900s. Determined to develop a chair that would be appropriate for both indoor and outdoor use, as well as a chair that was highly comfortable, he started to work using standard boards and nails.
Indoor Gardening Tips for Jerry Seinfeld
"I have no plants in my house. They won't live for me. Some of them don't even wait to die, they commit suicide" ~Jerry Seinfeld Come on, admit it....is your thumb not as green as you want it to be? Are you having trouble keeping your house plants alive and healthy? Can you relate to Jerry on this one? Relax?.you're not alone! Many of us (myself included at times) have felt that fake plants were our only option because we seemed to have the "touch of death" when caring for plants. Read on to find out how 10 simple changes will make you feel like a "natural born gardener"!
Amish Furniture on the Front Porch
While shopping on line the other day at www.stoveramishfurniture.com, I looked at the Amish Hickory Rocker. Now I have looked at this rocker many a time, but I have never thought about it. Think about how many times a rocker like this, over the generations, has rocked a baby to sleep, or a grandpa. Think about those spring, summer and autumn nights on the porch watching the kids play on the streets, or just drinking a glass of cool sweet tea listen to the crickets. How many times has one of these rockers sat in front of the fireplace, and comforted someone to sleep on a cold night.
Winter Gardening Looking Towards Spring
Ok, the title "winter gardening" might be a tad bit misleading. I am not suggesting that you actually garden during the winter but you should be using this time to plan your upcoming garden. As you look out at your yard and garden area during the cold months of winter, let your thoughts run wild and you will be amazed at what images you can conjure up. You might even want to try some of your new found ideas this spring!
How To Choose Water Garden Plants
So. The water garden bug has bitten. You've dug and leveled and sweated and said words you hope that no one else has heard. Now it's time for the fun part ? picking out your water garden plants!
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!
The String Algae Blues
Now that Spring is upon us and things are coming back to life in your pond with the warmer weather, many of us are battling with string algae. String algae is caused primarily by a combination of the buildup of organic nutrients in the water, and sunlight.
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