Learn about 11 useful organic gardening products for your home garden.

101. Be sure to wash your hands and fingernails thoroughly after handling bird feeders for cleaning etc., to protect yourself from possible bird-borne disease.

102. A tree planted in the midst of a flower bed adds height and interest to the plantings below it.

103. Most birds spend almost all their time hidden inside the cover of dense vegetation, travelling short distances from one stand of plants to another. Layering vegetation in your yard, from tall trees down to short shrubs provides a good natural habitat for most birds.

104. To take advantage of a bat’s contribution to the environment, make your yard bat-friendly by providing food, water, and shelter. Insects, a bird bath, and a purchased bat house are all that’s needed.

105. Plant morning glories along the base of an unsightly chain link fence, and enjoy a beautiful green and blue barrier through fall.

106. To reduce the risk of powdery mildew in your herb or flower beds, avoid overhead watering, using a soaker hose or drip irrigation instead.

107. Prune roses during the late winter, before they leaf out. A good rule of thumb is to remove ? their height to encourage new growth.

108. Compost organisms require a balance of carbon and nitrogen in the composting materials: high carbon materials are usually brown, eg. dead leaves, dry hay, and wood chips; nitrogen materials are thought of as green, eg. grass clippings, food scraps, and manure.

109. Container plants are often grown in a lightweight synthetic potting soil or peat moss, and will dry out quickly when planted. Check moisture with your finger frequently, and water the root zone.

110. Electric “bug zappers” destroy many more beneficial insects than harmful ones. Use traps that attract only the insects that are causing you problems.

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111. Keep your compost free of pesticides by not using grass clippings that contain pesticide residue. You want to be free to use your compost on a vegetable garden with no concern.

112. Plant an assortment of species in your landscape that will provide seeds, berries, nuts, or other food for the birds throughout the year.

113. To start your compost pile with plenty of bacteria for decay, throw in a few shovel-fulls of aged manure or rich topsoil. Add some during the process as well to keep it going.

114. For the best chance at success, sow morning glories in peat pots indoors in mid-April. Scarify, scratch, or soak the seeds to soften before planting. Plant the entire peat pot after the danger of frost is over, protecting the delicate roots. Full sun!

115. Great plants for formal hedges are: Arborvitae, Barberry, Boxwood, Hornbeam, Inkberry, Juniper, Privet, Red Tip Photinia, Sweet Bay, and Yew.

116. Plants native to your region are excellent for birds, because they are familiar and accepted as food sources and shelter and nest sites. Native fruits and berries ripen on a schedule that coincides with natural needs at nesting and migration time, or during winter months.

117. Prepare bare root plants for planting by soaking the roots in water for several hours to remoisten them after their dehydration.

118. Planning a water garden? Avoid the lowest spot in the yard to avoid drainage problems. Keep in mind also, that most water plants require full sun to do their best.

119. If there’s a part of your garden that you want to draw the viewer’s attention to, use height, contrast, or color to draw the eye.

120. Try growing culinary herbs in a big terra cotta container near your kitchen door, in full sun, for the most convenient use.

121. Avoid strict schedules for watering houseplants. The water needed depends on variables such as the type of plant, type of pot, proximity to heat/air vents, and light. The only sure test is to stick your finger into the soil about 2″ deep, and water if the soil feels dry.

122. A compost pile with too much “brown” material will compost slowly; too much “green” material will create odor problems.

123. Curved lines in your landscape give a relaxing feel, making the space feel open and large. Angular lines imply control and structure, which is useful in some environments.

124. On a hot, dry day, newly planted broad leafed plants can lose more moisture through their leaves than their roots can supply. Watch for this sign, and refresh them with a light spray from the hose.

125. A no-fail slug and snail trap is a lid of beer – bury a lid or tuna sized can with the lip of the container level with the soil surface, so the pests fall in and drown.

126. Ashes from a wood-burning stove or fireplace can be added to the compost pile sparingly, because ash is alkaline. It’s most useful when composting acidic materials such as pine needles or oak leaves..

127. Birds are wary of water that is more than 2 or 3″ deep. Add a few stones that emerge from the water for smaller birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects to land on.

128. There are two approaches to combining the raw ingredients for your compost pile: alternating layers of “browns” and “greens”, with the occasional thin layer of manure or topsoil, or throwing all of them in together and stirring up. Either way is fine.

129. Visible boundaries in your landscaping can make the area seem small and confined. Disguise the fences or walls with foliage such as vines, or create softer boundaries using lattices or even chain link fence, both of which can be covered with airy vines.

130. For year-round color in your landscape, use ornamental grasses. They have varied color and texture in the summer, and beautiful plumes in the winter.

131. Need to screen your yard from the street or close neighbors? Work from the outside in, beginning at the perimeter of your yard, with a fence or wall that compliments your home’s style.

132. Let fallen leaves lie instead of raking them away. Let them settle into a bed of mulch that adds to the soil as well as creating insect-rich areas for ground-dwelling birds to forage.

133. When planting a tree, never cramp roots into a small hole and always spread out the roots of bare-root stock instead of wrapping them around the stem. Be sure to cut away plastic, twine, or cable wrapped around balled and burlapped trees before planting. Failure to take these precautions can result in “girdling”, in which a tree strangles, gradually starves, and dies.

134. Vertical gardening is suggested for vining food crops such as squash, melons, or cucumbers. Train the vines up onto a trellis so that the sprawl is directed upward. If possible, face the vines south.

135. Each week, plant a large terra cotta pot with mixed green seeds, and each week you can serve the mature salad greens as the centerpiece when dining outside.

136. Rejuvenate liriope and mondo grass by using your weed-eater or mower to trim back the old foliage at the end of the winter, before the new growth begins.

137. Your compost should stay lightly moist like a wrung-out sponge, all the way through. Wet each layer while constructing the pile, or when adding a new layer. Keep the surface damp during dry spells.

138. Botanical pesticides are derived directly from plants. Some are even more toxic than some synthetics. However, botanicals break down rapidly, and do not accumulate in the food chain as synthetics do.

139. The secret to composting newspaper or computer paper is to shred it first – if you have a paper shredder like the ones used in offices, you have another source of “brown” material for composting.

140. Whether you use a conventional birdbath or a ground-level pool for ground-dwelling birds, be sure it has rough edges so the birds can walk into the water without slipping.

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141. In wet climates, you might consider building a little roof or cover to protect your compost pile from the rain, or cover it with a plastic tarp or old rug. You don’t want the pile to become waterlogged, or have the nutrients leach out from excessive water run-off.

142. If a plant receives less than its required number of hours of sun, it will probably be mis-shapen, won’t bloom, and is more likely to die. If it receives more sun than it requires, it will burn, be stressed, and is likely to die.

143. Planning a garden retreat? Include a grouping of wicker furniture, decorative accents, a table, and even a cozy fireplace.

144. Latticework, slatted screens, or loose vines can protect you from view while letting breezes into your outdoor hideaway.

145. Native ferns grow well beneath trees and in shady areas. Their fronds provide good cover for birds that move about on the forest floor.

146. Fresh, green foliage on a spent daffodil is photosynthesizing and contributing food supply to the bulb for next year. Resist the urge to cut it down, but loop or gently braid the leaves until they dry out.

147. A sheltered, south-facing wall typically acts as a solar collector, releasing its heat at night, creating a shallow zone that is warmer than the rest of the garden. This is the perfect place for specimen plants which want a warmer climate zone than you have.

148. Plant a “pesto pot” in a sunny location: include several types of basil, which are available in a surprising array of colors and leaf shapes.

149. A time saver if you’re setting out annuals or other small plants, prepare beds by working in plenty of organic material, spread a layer of mulch on top, then set the transplants at the appropriate depth and spacing through the mulch.

150. When composting materials are broken into small pieces, there is more exposed surface for composting organisms to attack. Twigs and leaves can be run over with a lawn moser, whole branches can be run through a chipper, plants and prunings can be chopped with pruning shears, and food scraps can be cut up in the kitchen, or chopped up in a bucket with a square-point shovel.

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