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Tips for Growing Cilantro

cilantro plantCilantro is used in a great many different dishes, particularly Mexican and Asian dishes, but despite the growing popularity for this dish in cooking, you do not see cilantro growing in the home garden as much as you do other popular herbs. This may be due to the fact that many people think that growing cilantro is difficult. This is not the case at all. If you follow these few tips for growing cilantro, you will find that you will be successfully growing cilantro in no time at all.

Cilantro Seeds

In cooking, cilantro seeds are called coriander. The “seeds” are actually two cilantro seeds encased in a husk. The husk is hard, round and is light brown or grey in color. Before you plant them in the ground, you need to prepare the cilantro seeds to increase the chances that they will germinate. Gently crush the seed husk holding the two seeds together. Soak the cilantro seeds in water for 24 – 48 hours. Remove from the water and allow to dry.

How to Plant Cilantro

Once you have prepared the cilantro seeds, you need to plant the seeds. You can either start cilantro indoors or out doors. If you are starting the seeds indoors, you will be transplanting cilantro to the outdoors later on.

Put the seeds in the soil and then cover them with about a 1/4 inch layer of soil. Leave the cilantro growing until it is at least 2 inches tall. At this time, thin the cilantro to be about 3-4 inches apart. You want to be growing cilantro in crowded conditions because the leaves will shade the roots and help to keep the plant from bolting in hot weather.

If you are transplanting cilantro into your garden, dig holes 3-4 inches apart and place the plants in them. Water thoroughly after transplanting.

Cilantro Growing Conditions

The most important thing to remember when growing cilantro is that it does not like hot weather. Cilantro growing in soil that reaches 75F will bolt and go to seed. This means that the ideal cilantro growing conditions are cool but sunny. You should be growing cilantro where it will get early morning or late afternoon sun, but be shaded during the hottest part of the day.

Additional Tips for Growing Cilantro

Even with ideal cilantro growing conditions, this is a short lived herb. Taking the time to prune cilantro frequently will help delay bolting and prolong your harvest time but no mater how much you prune cilantro it will still eventually bolt. Plant new seeds about every 6 weeks to keep a steady supply throughout the growing season.

Cilantro will also reseed in many zones. Once the cilantro plant bolts, let it go to seed and it will grow again for you next year. Or collect the cilantro seeds and use them as coriander in your cooking.

So as you can see, with just a few tips for growing cilantro, you can have a steady supply of this tasty herb growing in your garden.

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How to Compost

Composting involves mixing yard and household organic waste in a pile or bin and providing conditions that encourage decomposition. The decomposition process is fueled by millions of microscopic organisms (bacteria, fungi) that take up residence inside your compost pile, continuously devouring and recycling it to produce a rich organic fertilizer and valuable soil amendment.

Sound complicated? It’s really not. All you need to know about composting is a basic understanding of a few simple principles, and a little bit of elbow grease. Nature does the rest.

Note: Decomposition, or the composting process, occurs constantly and gradually around us everyday. The dark, rich soil covering the forest floor is an excellent example of this. When we compost, all we’re really doing is speeding up Mother Nature.

Location & Appearance

First you’ll need to select your location for composting. Where you put it depends on function and aesthetics.

In terms of appearances and good relations with your neighbors, you probably don’t want to place your bin on your front lawn next to the mail box. (Your neighbors, and not to mention your mail man, will also appreciate a more behind-the-scenes location.)

Instead, opt for the backyard, or, if you don’t have one, then a compost bin located in your basement can do the trick.

Want to build your own? Here’s one simple solution: convert old shipping pallets (which you can usually pick up for free) into a compost “repository.” Use one for the bottom. Pound in metal support poles and then add pallets by slipping them over the support poles to make your bin’s walls and you’re all set.

You can also skip the bin (a structure isn’t essential) and just have a compost pile or heap. In terms of appearances — and if your homeowners association is fussy — you may want to screen the pile from view by planting shrubs or a fence. You’ll also probably not want it by your picnic table or other areas outdoors where you entertain.

From a functional standpoint, you’ll need a place with good air circulation. Don’t place it next to your home or other wooden buildings as the decomposing scraps and resulting compost may cause the wood to rot. Partial shade is a good idea so the compost doesn’t get overheated. Also make sure the spot of land where you place your heap gets good drainage.

Close to the garden and to a water source are both good places for building your compost pile since it will be easier to move the materials to and from the garden and easier to water it. Another idea may be to place it near your kitchen to make it convenient to place table scraps on the pile or in the bin.

Size

Make your pile no smaller than 3′ x 3′ x 3′. In fact, this is probably the perfect size. It’s sufficient enough to “cook” your waste and transform it into compost, but not so large that it will become unmanageable and hard to turn.

Moisture

The microbes that do your dirty work in the compost pile require water for survival, but it can be hard to judge how much water to add and when. Too much water means your organic waste won’t decompose and you’ll get a slimy and smelly pile that could well answer to the name “swamp thing.” Too little water and you’ll kill the bacteria and you won’t get your compost.

One rule of thumb: the more green material (cut grass, weeds, leaves) you put in, the less water you’ll need to add. In fact, if you need to add dry ingredients such as straw or hay, soak the material first in water so it won’t dry out your compost pile. In general, your compost should be moist, but not sopping wet.

If you are backyard composting and you get a lot of rain, build a roof over the pile. This can be as simple as a tarp. The reason you want to give your compost pile more shelter is because nutrients, or leachates, leak out when it rains. That’s not such a problem in a place where rainfall isn’t heavy, but if you get a lot of rain where you live, it can make a big difference. Too much water in the pile will slow down the process and can also make it slimy and icky.

Aeration

Oxygen is also required by many of the microorganisms responsible for successful composting. Give them adequate ventilation and they will take care of the rest. You can make sure that the bacteria in your compost gets sufficient air by turning the pile often and well. Use a pitch fork, spade or compost aerator to mix your pile. If you’ve got a compost tumbler, you’ve got it easy. Just crank that lever. Don’t aerate your compost and it will break down slowly, resulting in a slimy, dense, stinky pile. It’s also a good idea to turn the contents since it rearranges the decaying material. With a little care, you can move the less decomposed material on the edges to the middle of the pile to heat up.

Temperature

As they eat, the organisms responsible for composting generate large amounts of heat, which raise the temperature of the pile or compost bin and speeds up decomposition. A compost pile that is working well will produce temperatures of 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures almost all weed seeds and plant diseases are killed. A “very hot” compost pile will generate temperatures of up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit for up to a week or more. Use a compost thermometer to measure the exact temperature at different locations inside the pile. Note: As organic material in a compost pile heats up, it breaks down and takes up less space. A compost pile can shrink up to 70% as it “cooks.”

Adding Materials

When adding organic waste to your compost, don’t squash the materials down to make more space. Squashing the contents will squeeze out the air that microbes in the compost pile need to turn your garbage into gold. (Instead you’ll be promoting the anaerobic microbes, which also do a good job converting carrot peels and other organic matter into compost but tend to be a lot smellier.)

Also be strategic about filling your bin. Include a mixture of brown fibrous ingredients and greens. A well-balanced “diet” will ensure that composting doesn’t take too long and that you don’t end up with a slimy, smelly heap. Also shred, dice or otherwise make scraps smaller, which will help the resident bacteria do a good job in converting the garbage into compost.

Finally, after you’ve added kitchen vegetable waste, throw some leaves or grass clippings on top of it. This will help keep things balanced, reduce smells and make your compost bin less attractive to critters who are trying to sniff out a free meal.

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Use Containers

Use ContainersIf you lack a backyard, stick to containers. With the exception of some root crops and asparagus, most vegetables grow just fine in them. Tomatoes, green onions, peppers, beans, lettuce, and squash all fare particularly well.

Look for varieties bred to grow in confined spaces, such as Patio tomatoes, Topcrop green beans, and Bibb lettuce. As for what size container you need, use large ones (think whiskey barrel), which allow for companion planting and greater reserves of food and water. Small pots dry out quickly and don’t allow space for roots to grow. Whatever size you choose, make sure the container has holes at its base to allow for drainage.

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Test Your Soil

Test Your SoilKnowing the basics behind organic gardening can put you on the right path to creating your own Eden. All you need is patience, a willingness to get muddy, and this quick tip.

Before planting anything, first determine the measure of acidity or alkalinity (known as pH) of your soil with a home testing kit.

For most vegetables, the magic number is 6.5. Too acidic (on the low end of the 0-to-14 scale) or too alkaline (on the high end) and your plants won’t be able to access the soil’s nutrients. Boost your pH with a line spread, found at garden stores, or lower it with powdered sulfur. Seedlings can then be planted straight in the ground.

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Cultivate Curb Appeal With A Sustainable Landscape

Fixing up the inside of a home and cleaning up the yard is challenging in itself. Overhauling a yard can get expensive and time consuming. But while you spruce up outdoors, look at ways you can blend resourceful designs into your home’s curb appeal.

With growing demands for green building and sustainable landscaping, more homeowners want natural luxury outside their front door—without the extra maintenance. Sustainable landscaping is practical since it integrates plants and materials, which are in balance with the local climate.

Every yard is unique. You can incorporate just a few well-placed plants to save water. Or for a really self-sustaining garden, have a lawn like a meadow with every variety of herb, flower, grass, vegetable and fruit.

With careful planning, sustainable design:

  • Adds distinctive visual beauty—from formal to informal design.
  • Is low maintenance and cost effective long term.
  • Is easy to implement.
  • Requires minimal inputs and resources—less water, fertilizer or pesticides.
  • Reduces your home’s energy consumption.
  • Is environmentally sound—reducing carbon, chemicals and toxins.

Plan with Maintenance in Mind

Walk around your property to identify areas you want to accentuate for beauty and functionality. Whether you want to add an herb garden, a work area or patio, work with the slopes and boundaries of your yard. By designing with the natural patterns in the landscape, you make the most of space and maximize drainage for growing the best plants.

If possible, work with existing pathways as part of the outline for your yard. For interest and safety, modify pathways or make new ones that follow higher grades and natural curves in the land.

Consider sun and shade patterns, wind patterns and soil conditions throughout the yard. Different plants will do better in varying conditions or microclimates within your yard.

A landscape designer or contractor can help you choose the best plants for a sustainable landscape.

Grow Beauty and Function with Sustainable Vegetation

Sustainable landscapes grow a full spectrum of plants fitted for any style—from informal cottage to formal Chinese and everything in between.

Add sturdy lushness to your yard with native plants, which adapt easily to local climates and need less water. Self-seeding grasses and plants are ideal for sustainable landscapes—simply gather seedpods to crush and spread seeds where you want them to grow. Plants will flourish naturally. To minimize water requirements, keep plants with similar needs together in the same areas.

Fruit and nut-bearing trees, herbs, vegetables and edible flowers can be combined in any aesthetic variation, while providing food for you and local wildlife.

Deciduous trees, like maple, oak and elm, give shade in summer and allow sun in winter. Planted near the house, they provide comfort, while cutting down on energy bills. Turn a section of your yard into a cool summer woodland to further reduce air conditioning bills. Trees and hedges also form windbreaks, helping to cut your home’s fuel consumption by 1/3 and more.

Vines and bamboo gardens create privacy and shade around patios.

Use Eco-friendly Materials

A sustainable landscape relies more on vegetation, than hardscape materials, for forming boundaries like walls and fences. For walkways and driveways, be resourceful by using porous materials such as mulch, gravel or crushed stone, which are abundant and allow drainage. Try to use local and salvaged materials like used bricks or concrete.

Work with Nature

Attractive landscaping of any kind grows out of functional design planning. Whether you hire a landscape expert or do-it-yourself, work with the existing natural environment to develop a sustainable yard fitted to your lifestyle. No matter what you design—from an herb and vegetable garden to a meandering walkway or a meadow-like grass to a self-seeded lawn—shape areas and borders with vegetation suited to the climate and location. By working with the land you can create a self-sustaining yard over time tailored for your lifestyle. Instead of watering and fertilizing, you can spend more time enjoying the natural beauty, which is an extension of your home.

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How To Grow Peppers & Actually Succeed

peppersWhether you’re looking for information on how to grow jalapenos, bell peppers, habaneros, ghost chiles or any other type of pepper, this article will provide a few tips so you can produce the most bountiful harvests possible. Not only are peppers an ornamental addition to your landscaping, but they’re also quite tasty.

The first thing to consider when growing peppers is your local weather. Peppers are not frost tolerant, so it’s important to sow seeds or transplant seedlings after the last chance of frost. Once the possibility of turning your pepper plants into popsicles has passed, start thinking about where exactly you intend to plant them. They require full sun and rich, well-draining soil which makes containers a great idea, especially for beginner gardeners. Containers can be easily moved and require very little when it comes to soil amendments. Simply grab a bag of high quality potting mix (preferably organic) from your local garden center, dump it in a pot, and you’re off to the races.

When transplanting seedlings, your goal is to create a cozy home for newborn pepper plants. Not only will they require consistent watering, they’ll need nutrients to flourish. I suggest using an organic starter fertilizer, such as E.B. Stone’s Sure Start, to ensure plants have what they need to mature and pump out spicy pods like nobody’s business. Sure Start contains a plethora of goodies that plants love, such as: blood meal, feather meal, bone meal, dried chicken manure, bat guano, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, potassium sulfate, humic acids and soil microbes including mycorrhizal fungi.

After planting, you must master the art of controlling your temptations; namely the urge to overwater. Unlike tomatoes and other needy plants, peppers actually do better when they’re not babied. They don’t like to be overwatered and a small amount of stress, such as letting the soil slightly dry before watering, produces more fruit and hotter fruit. Keep in mind peppers grown in containers will require more frequent watering than peppers grown in the ground.

With sun, heat, water and fertilizer, pepper plants will shoot up like crazy and start flowering in no time. After peppers form, you have the choice to pick them right away or wait until they mature and turn color (varies by type).

From a landscaping perspective, pepper plants are an awesome addition to any landscape. They sport a wide variety of colors, are relatively easy to care for, and produce food. (Doesn’t get much better than that.)

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Landscape Planning In Winter: Using Containers

Many gardens and yards flourish all summer long only to look barren in winter. By then, it’s too late in many climate zones to plant trees and bushes for a winter landscape. But the dormant season is also the perfect time to plan your future winter landscape.

When the bare outlines of your yard are exposed, it’s easier to see where hardier trees, shrubs and plants could add dimension and color. Before you let your winterscaping vision fade into spring, seize the season by buying some young tough winter plants for outdoor containers—which, you can transplant into the ground in springtime. Watch as your winter container plants transition from being outdoor decorations to being the backbone of your yard’s landscape through all four seasons.

Winter Container Plants with Colors and Shapes for Every Season

Winter-hardy plants come in every size, shape and texture—in endless colors and subtle variegations.

Green foliage warms a landscape in any season, but shows especially well in winter when deciduous plants go dormant. Evergreen trees and shrubs are perennial fillers in every style of landscape. They form a lush backdrop in summer and become prominent focal points in winter, often popping with colorful flowers and berries. Evergreens—as well as the tougher evergreen conifers, grow in countless hues of green—from blue green to lime green and gold to silver.

No matter what region you live in, you could easily fill your winterscape from among the countless forms of evergreen plant species: A stately blue spruce tree grows to be a strong focal point and provides wind cover for a property. The low-growing wintergreen plant provides red and purple groundcover, with the added benefits of edible red berries and broadleaves, harvested traditionally as therapeutic tealeaves. Many types of evergreen English-ivies retain their colors year round. And old-fashioned boxwoods are one of many evergreen shrubs, which make a sturdy garden border.

For flowering plants, try holly or winter flowering pansies. Whichever types of winter plants you choose, native plants are natural choices for planning a winter landscape. Check local parks and nurseries for ideas and resources. Choose plants which will look as elegant in containers as they will when full grown in the design of your yard.

Keep Winter Plants at Home in the Right Climate Zone

To determine the climate zone which plants are most likely to survive in, refer to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/, plant encyclopedias, or local nurseries list each plant’s designated zone—(the minimum temperature a plant can be expected to survive).

Since container plants aboveground are exposed to colder temperatures than plants under the ground, try to choose plants which are hardy, both in your local zone as well as another colder zone. The zone map is a good guideline, but plant survival varies with local conditions and microclimates.

Keep Your Container Plants Insulated from the Cold

Winter container plants need as much insulation as possible, since the roots do not have the benefit of being buried beneath the earth’s surface where temperatures are more constant. The bigger the container, the more soil there is to insulate roots from cold temperatures and fluctuations. More mature plants, with somewhat developed roots, will survive better in containers during winter.

Wood containers make good insulators. Impermeable materials like concrete, metal and plastic are also good shields from the elements. Keep all winter container plants off of the cold cement.

Hardy winter plants add dimensional beauty to your yard, whether they are in containers, transplanted in spring, or full grown in the ground through all the seasons. They balance and enhance the interesting patterns of bare branches and other interesting structures in your yard.

Make it easy by planting next year’s winterscape with this year’s decorative winter container plants.

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Winter Landscaping Tips, Tricks & Ideas

Winter is when so many homeowners realize the backbone of their yard’s landscape is too barebones to be interesting. Without the defining structures like evergreen trees, pergolas or pathways, garden landscapes gone dormant can look barren. While in winter, it’s too late to plant berry plants and too cold to build a retaining wall, but there are plenty of ways to add immediate interest to your yard, and at the same time plan for next year’s winter landscape.

Why it Works to Decorate Your Yard in Winter Time

Instead of regretting you didn’t get your winterscape planned in time for winter, you can add instant color, texture and form to your garden landscape with other structural elements—from benches to boxes. A few well-placed items transform the view out your window and create a picture for people driving by.

By decorating with garden items and things you already have, you save money while personalizing your winter landscape. In the process, you have the opportunity to study and plan your yard’s design for future seasons.

Create Focal Points for Winter Contrast

Garden architecture, from big to small, provides needed contrast against faded winter backdrops. Even a solitary pot, or a clump of long grass, stand out with winter interest. Anything can become an architectural element—from sculpture and statuary, to boulders and birdfeeders. String some tiny outdoor lights almost anywhere for effect.

An arrangement of outdoor furniture or a bench under a tree creates a congenial scene. Paint an old chair in a bold or subtle color. Drape a few antique garden tools on top of a small table.

So-called junk, like vintage farm implements, becomes art with character. Fill a wheelbarrow or a crate with logs, greenery or favorite trinkets.

Paint a gate or part of a fence. Take advantage of architectural pieces you come across. A section of fencing or a decorative panel leaning in the garden or against the house adds new dimension. So does a castoff window frame or a detached door with some original décor attached to it.

Consider the many possibilities of garden art—from metal sculptures to birdhouses and plant stakes to rustic signs.

Plan Your Spring and Summer Garden

Winter is the perfect time to study the bare bones of your garden landscape and plan its future design. As you add focal points to this year’s winter landscape with furniture or sculpture, think about year-round possibilities.

You might not have a pond, pathway or arbor in place now, but now is the time to imagine where those elements would best be situated within your landscape. Notice the shapes and outlines of existing trees and plants and where spaces need to be filled in. Visualize where hedges, stonewalls or walkways will provide natural borders and functional flow to your garden and yard.

Turn Winter Interest into Enduring Design

By decorating your yard in the winter, you have the opportunity to study the bare bones of its underlying structure and plan for year-round design elements.

An out-of-season landscape lets you see what’s missing. You can see where to plant evergreens for greenery, deciduous trees with interesting branches, shrubs or berries. You can determine colors, which will enhance pathways, arbors and other hardscaping.

But no matter how nondescript your yard looks in winter, you can make it more interesting with a few well-placed objects. It will transform the view out your window and your home’s curb appeal.

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What’s the Difference between Landscape Designers, Landscape Architects, and Landscape Contractors?

These broad definitions apply to the United States only. Laws vary from state to state regarding the work performed by landscape designers, landscape architects and landscape contractors. Some need to be licensed by the state; others do not. Permits may or may not be required for landscape work performed in your state or locality.

Landscape designers typically have training in landscape design and horticulture through formal education or on-the-job experience. The Association of Professional Landscape Designer’s certification program confers professional recognition to landscape designers based on experience and established standards of excellence. Landscape designers provide design concepts, landscape plans, and selection of materials. Some designers provide only design services, others work closely with contractors during installation and some provide construction services themselves as permitted by state law. Many landscape designers are also professional horticulturists. Landscape designers can provide design services for both residential and commercial clients, although many specialize in residential design.

Landscape architects have obtained a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited school. Only those who have have met their respective state requirements may call themselves landscape architects. A landscape architecture curriculum usually emphasizes site analysis, design, presentation and construction techniques rather than horticulture. In addition to the types of plans provided by a landscape designer, many landscape architects produce plans and construction -ready documents for institutional and commercial projects.

Landscape contractors perform a wide range of services, including garden and lawn installation, garden maintenance, masonry, carpentry, other landscape elements and sometimes design. Many work for nurseries or design/build companies and others have their own firms. When working with a landscape contractor, be sure to clarify the design process used, whether you will receive drawings for your review and approval, or whether you have just a verbal description of the landscape to be installed.

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Why Hire A Designer?

Hiring a professional landscape designer could be one of the smartest investment decisions you’ll ever make. Designers trained and qualified in the principles of garden design and horticulture can help their clients avoid the costly mistakes that can turn the dream of an outdoor haven into a landscape nightmare.

Professional landscape designers are skilled practitioners of fundamental design concepts – proportion, unity, balance, perspective, color, texture – that can bring about a fully integrated design. They have a comprehensive knowledge of plants so that you get the right plant that grows to the right size for the right place in your garden.

They are skilled communicators and planners who work with contractors, vendors, local governments and others to complete successful projects. Professional landscape designers are also aware of our natural environment and promote sustainable practices whenever possible. They are inspired by the creative process, by great design, and most of all, by their clients’ needs, wants and dreams.

CONTACT US TODAY!

631-726-0469

337 Montauk Highway
Water Mill, NY 11976

http://heirloomgardensllc.com/

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