Hummingbirds Can’t Resist Cardinal Flowers

If you love to see hummingbirds, plant cardinal flowers, because hummingbirds can’t resist cardinal flowers.  As its name implies, the cardinal flower is bright red, the color of the male cardinal.  It’s more formal name is Lobelia cardinalis.  The author of the article is unnamed, but he or she probably works at the Triple Oakes Nursery, since there is a plug for the nursery at the end of the article.  Regardless, the article is well written and you will understand a lot about the Lobelia cardinalis and why hummingbirds can’t resist cardinal flowers.

Hummingbirds can't resist cardinal flowers.

Hummingbirds can’t resist cardinal flowers.

One of my very favorite red perennials, Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is said by many to be a weak plant that often does not come back up, but it comes up many times over in our gardens. Perhaps this is because it reseeds in several gardens, as well as along the stream bank where it is wet. The plants spread each year and there are few things prettier than the brilliant red of a Cardinal flower. Add a hummingbird and it is an awesome sight to say the least. Blooms have a rich satiny texture and a tubular look. The flowers attract hummingbirds, described by a garden writer who once said they “pull hummingbirds from the sky.”

I really enjoy hummingbirds.  They are just so amazing to watch, darting here and there, never too long in any one place.  How they are able to remain suspended in air seems to defy explanation.  Nature’s helicopter.  I do know that hummingbirds consume a lot of nectar during the day to provide themselves with the energy they need to perform their aerial aerobatics.  But the article isn’t just about hummingbirds.  Here is some addtional information about the Lobelia cardinalis.

Each capsule contains a lot of powdery seeds, so one or two capsules should be plenty. Leave the rest to reseed the area where the plant is growing. Just sprinkle them on top of the soil, the same as if they fell from the plant into your garden, and water them well.  You should see plants in a couple of weeks if kept damp.Once established in your garden, Cardinal flower will self-sow and come up for years. Lobelia is perennial, but is considered a short-lived plant, so natural reseeding is important to keep the population healthy and abundant. It grows well in any garden if it does not dry out.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here or on the link below.  I didn’t look up whether the Lobelia cardinalis is related to the bluebell, but their natural habitat sounds similar. they require moist areas, and they reseed similarly.  And if you like hummingbirds, remember that hummingbirds can’t resist cardinal flowers.



Photo by stillriverside

Deer Feeding In The Garden

If you have deer feeding in the garden, you are not alone.  If you live in an area where deer abound, you are probably going to have the deer in the garden problem.  Even if you don’t have a garden as such, if you have any foundation plantings, annuals or perennials in your yard, deer consider that fair game for dining.  Peg Tillery has written a helpful article giving the reader information about what to do about deer feeding in the garden.

Deer in the garden will eat most anything.

Deer in the garden will eat most anything.

This year I perused 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plantsby Ruth Rogers Clausen with photography by Alan L. Detrick. One of the most commonly asked gardening questions is, “Are there any plants deer won’t eat?” Here’s what Ruth Rogers Clausen recommends. . .Clausen cautions that deer will eat any plant at least once, especially when they’re hungry or young and inexperienced.

So really, no plant is totally deer-resistant.  I know that deer, when very hungry, will eat the most heavily touted deer-resistant plant.  The best way to completely keep your plants safe is to put them behind an eight foot fence or hedge.  There are a few other ideas that Peg writes about, some of them questionable, but reportedly successful at keeping deer away from plants.  Here’s one of them.

Several years ago a reader shared his secret of using fishing line, horizontally strung between posts. Each length of line was spaced about a foot or two above the other line. His method worked for several years without fail. Coincidentally Clausen confirmed that this method works.

Peg writes about some other ways of trying to deter deer from feeding in the garden.  You can read her article by clicking here or on the link below.  Two really helpful pieces of information in her article are a list of plants that are deer candy and another list of plants that deer will generally avoid.  If you have deer feeding in the garden, you’ll want to read Peg’s article and probably buy Ruth Clausen’s book, which you can obtain by clicking on the link above or the image below.


Real Men Love Gardening

There is a shift occurring in who gardens, and more and more real men love gardening. Young men in particular are beginning to take up the gardening hobby for lots of different reasons. Kim Palmer wrote an article about the men that are turning to gardening, and they are the twenty to thirty year olds. She writes about several individual men who have begun to garden, and if you read her article, you’ll find some possibly surprising reasons why these real men love gardening.

Why real men love gardening.

Why real men love gardening.

Garrett Hoffman, 28, doesn’t have a yard. But he was determined to have a garden. “This is my first apartment ever with outdoor space,” said Hoffman, who grows tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, chard and herbs on his St. Paul balcony. Hoffman’s “small but mighty” garden helps the University of Minnesota researcher and graduate student stretch his food budget, he said. “I just come out here and pick a salad, or make mojitos. It’s cheap — a package of mint at the store is $4.” Gardening also has become his passion. “I love growing stuff,” he said. “It’s a form of creation. I’m not an artist. I write super-dense academic things. For me to be able to take seeds and create something living and growing is like art.”

Kim writes that Garrett has multiple benefits from his small garden.  It gives him an opportunity to create something, which he apparently does not to get to do in his graduate school work.  He also likes the ability to pick something fresh from his balcony garden and make a meal out of it.  He has found a way to make gardening creative, simple and financially advantageous.  Kim writes about several other young men in her article.  You may not guess about one of the things they are planting.

Growing hops for home-brew is a fast-growing garden niche nationwide, according to McCoy. “It’s the cool factor — to be able to say, ‘I grew it myself.’ To say, ‘I grew it and brewed it’ is even cooler.” . . In Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood, a group made up mostly of young men has transformed a formerly vacant lot into a community hops garden ( “It’s a groundbreaking project — I’m not aware of any other community garden focused exclusively on hops,” said Andrew Schmitt, 34, of St. Paul. On a recent Sunday, members gathered at the sunny, urban plot, with its backdrop of looming grain elevators, to tend the hops — nine varieties. Hops take about three years to mature, so “there’s not going to be a ton of yield this season,” Schmitt said. Still, members are planning a fall “community brew day” — and looking forward to the beer to come.

You can read Kim’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  Now that you know about the hops growing project, you might have a better idea of why real men love gardening.  Food source? Yes.  Opportunity to be creative? Yes.  Beer ingredients?  Now I think you get the picture.


Photo by katerha

Gardening Tricks To Grow More Food

The gardening season is moving on, and you may need to apply some gardening tricks to grow more food before summer comes to an end.  You’re in luck, because Sami Grover has written an article on how to do just that.  As a matter of fact, Sami suggests six particular things to do that are likely to give your plants a push to produce a greater harvest as the growing season moves into its second half.  At least one of the six suggestions I have never heard of before, and I am not quite sure I would recommend it.  I’ll tell you what Sami says, and you can judge for yourself.  Maybe you’ll buy all six gardening tricks to grow more food.  Here’s the questionable one.

Use urine for fertilizer
Feed the soil, not the plants. That’s the mantra of most successful organic gardeners. Nevertheless, however much compost and other organic materials you add to the soil, there are times when your plants are going to need a little boost. Many gardeners claim that the best solution is the one closest to home: diluted human urine can be a great source of potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus for plants. In fact, one study suggests that urine-fertilized tomato plants significantly outperformed those given mineral fertilizers.

I kind of snickered when I read that because of the images the suggestion brought up in my mind.  I had to keep thinking, “diluted, diluted.”  I just don’t know about he healthiness of such a method of fertilizing, and I think I would rather find some other way of fertilizing my plants to push the most fruit production out of them at this time of year.  Some of Sami’s other recommendations are a little more traditional.

Hack your watering
As the weather gets hotter, inadequate or inconsistent watering can put significant stress on plants — especially container plants. Try this trick from gardener Douglas Welch as a great way to provide a gradual trickle of water to a plant’s root zone throughout a hot, sunny day:

I thought I’d add a graphic in the post above, but I think Douglas Welch’s video does a good job of that.  It’s short but sweet.  It demonstrates one of those gardening tricks to grow more food.  You can read Sami’s article by clicking here or on the link below to learn the other four gardening tricks that should push your food production to new heights at the half way point of the growing season.


Gardening Doesn’t Cost Big Bucks

If you’re looking for an inexpensive hobby, gardening doesn’t cost big bucks. In fact, gardening can even save you money, aside from other benefits it may provide. Alan Titchmarsh writes for an audience in the UK. Though his writing style is definitely British, the information in his article is intercontinental. This is his first part of a two part article, the second to be written next week. He is writing to let the reader know that gardening doesn’t cost big bucks.

Gardening doesn't cost big bucks.

Gardening doesn’t cost big bucks.

Gardening on the cheap is nothing to be ashamed of. Far from it; growing your own, recycling and making do is the new keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, at least in gardening circles. And it’s not just about saving cash; thrifty gardening can also improve your lifestyle. So don’t even think of it as economising – get stuck in and enjoy the sort of hands-on satisfaction that comes from swapping your own time, care and love for cash and quick results.

If you are new to gardening, though you can economize and grow vegetable plants without a lot of expense, you may not save as much as you might be led to believe if you read some of the articles or books that are available.  If you’re starting from scratch, you will need some tools, the barest minimum or which would be a shovel and a rake.  You will have some expense in providing nutrients to your plants, whether you do that organically or non-organically.  You will have some expense in seedlings or seeds, unless you are fortunate enough to have a seed library near you.  Even at the barest minimum of expense, you probably won’t raise enough vegetables in a year or two to recoup your initial investment.  But don’t let that deter you, because the benefits of gardening go beyond being able to possibly grow vegetables more cheaply than you can buy them.

You’ll soon notice the difference, and your home-grown crop can easily be organic, which doubles its value at a stroke. OK, a kitchen garden is perhaps the most labour-intensive form of horticulture, but think of the convenience of having fresh produce at your back door whenever you want it. . .You’ll find yourself using far more fresh produce when it’s on hand and home-grown, so your family will enjoy more side salads, garnishes, fruity desserts, fresh juices and smoothies. You’ll be bouncing with health, all for little more than the price of the seeds. And as a bonus you can cancel your gym membership because all that extra gardening will keep you toned, slim and fit. So there’s a massive saving straight away.

You will certainly gain health benefits from following the advice you find in Alan’s article, which you can read by clicking here or on the link below.  When you read his article, and he tries to say that gardening doesn’t cost big bucks, I guess that’s a relative statement.  Compared to what?  Gardening as a hobby doesn’t cost big bucks as might some other hobby, such as golfing, in which your weekly golf game can cost you upwards of $50 a shot at a typical nearby golf course.  Multiply that over 20 weeks, put that money into a gardening hobby for a year, and you’ll be far ahead.  I can tell you for myself, I certainly get far less angry and am in a much more peaceful frame of mind when I garden than when I  golf.


Photo by 401(K) 2013

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