Garden Design

10 Reasons to Have an Herb Garden

10 Reasons to Have an Herb Garden
If you’ve ever walked by the fresh herbs at your local grocery store, chances are you’ve noticed their delicious fragrance. And if you’ve checked out their selling price, you’ve probably just kept walking by. Buying fresh herbs can get quite expensive; but if you have an herb garden of your own, you’ll find that they are very inexpensive and easy to grow. But these aren’t the only reasons to have an herb garden.
You don’t have to be a gardener – Anyone can grow herbs! Even if you’ve never had a garden before, or even planted flowers, it doesn’t matter. Herbs are a great way for a novice to get started learning how to grow their own food supply. There are even beginner’s herb growing kits for those that are skeptical of their abilities.
You don’t have to have a lot of space – An herb garden doesn’t take up a lot of space. If you have a bay window, or even a large windowsill, it will be plenty of room to accommodate a small herb garden.
They look great – Seriously, have you ever seen a bunch of herbs growing?? They’re gorgeous! And the fragrance they’ll put off is amazing. Try growing fresh mint for an aromatic show-stopper.
They can be grown in pots – If you don’t have room to grow an herb garden indoors, try growing them in pots on the patio. This makes them easy to reposition, plus container gardening is always an attractive way to bring life to any space.
Just wait till you taste them! – Food tastes better when it is seasoned with fresh herbs, just as it tastes better when you use any fresh ingredient.
Fresh herbs save money – Not only will you save money on the herbs you use this year, but you won’t have to worry about buying herbs for many years to come. That’s because fresh herbs will come back year after year. Just remember to bring them indoors during cold winter months.
They have medicinal purposes – Ever heard of herbal tea being used to help you sleep, relieve constipation, or cure an upset stomach? Of course, you have. Even doctors recommend the use of herbs for medicinal purposes in certain situations. Check out this Medicinal Herbs Guide we found at You won’t believe how many different uses there are for fresh herbs.
Pets can benefit from them too – Oftentimes there is a danger of the plants we grow indoors being dangerous for our pets, but not when it comes to growing herbs. In fact, many of the herbs we grow can be used to make your pet healthier. Whether you have a dog, cat, or reptile, there are plenty of ways to use the herbs you grow for their benefit. Take a moment and read the useful pet guide for gardeners.
Use less salt and packed seasonings – Because fresh herbs have are so flavorful, you’ll find that you don’t need to use as much salt of other pre-packed seasonings that include salt. That means a healthier diet for you and your family, without sacrificing taste.
Pest control – In a previous articles we discussed using herbs as a way to keep deer out of your garden. Deer don’t like the strong aroma of herbs, and by planting them by your treasured rose bushes, you’ll see a decrease in the amount of deer, and other critters that show up uninvited.
Can’t decide which herbs you should grow? Think back on the foods you cooked the most over the last month. For example, we cook a lot of Italian food at my house. Thus, parsley, basil, and oregano are must-haves in my herb garden, while fresh dill wouldn’t be something I would use that often. Just a little common sense will steer you in the right direction.
Home and Family

Air Conditioner Filters Tutorial

Copyright 2006 Raymond Burton

One of the most important things to maintain on your new cooling unit is the air conditioner filter. Dirt and debris in the filter will reduce the air flow and thus the effectiveness of your conditioning unit. Once your air conditioners filtering unit becomes very clogged with dirt and debris, those dirt particles will bypass the filter and start messing up the air quality along with the machines working parts.

While some air conditioner filters can be cleaned and reused, some need to be replaced altogether. If the filter on your cooling system can be replaced, it should be done or at least checked every month or two. Just like in any machine, the frequency that you change your air conditioning filters depends on the external operating conditions. Dusty environments combined with heavy use will speed up the need for a cleaning or replacement of your systems filters.

Traditionally most simple air conditioning unit filters were made from foam, fiberglass or another washable screen type material. These air conditioner filters collect particles via a sticky surface of oil or similar substance. One draw back with foam units is that there is a risk of small foam particles mixing into the expelled air. The second is that foam air conditioner filters wear out quicker than some more modern conditioning unit filter types.

The newest type of air conditioner filter is the electrostatic mesh. Electrostatic filters are neat in the way that they filter air compared to the old “sticky grab” method. The movement of air across the air conditioners synthetic weave of fibers creates a static charge that collects the dust on the filters surface. A side benefit to this electric charge on the filters surface is that is creates ozone which helps to kill bacteria and unpleasant odors.

You should change your air conditioner filters at regular intervals because when your filter is new, it grabs up to 10% of the dust and particles that cross over its oil filmed surface. As time passes more dust gets trapped in the filter, which is a good thing, but all those extra particles will cause less air flow to get through. By keeping your conditioning unit inspected and maintained at regular intervals will not only save you money in electric bills and repairs but also keep you air quality supremely conditioned.

What is the best make of air conditioner filter? As with all types of consumer products, there will varying opinions and lots of marketing to deal with. Often when trying to find a new product the best thing to do is ask the opinion of others. Air conditioner filters are no different. There are several websites and forums where you can go and look through the consumer reviews and make a better decision as to what air conditioner filter would best suit your needs.

Garden Design

Living Off the Grid – Seed Saving

Harvesting Seeds for Sustainable Living

Harvesting Seeds for Sustainable Living

While seed saving can be done whether you are hooked up to PUD or not, the entire process of gardening and harvesting your heirloom seeds is the kind of thing sustainable living is all about. Seed saving can be tedious work but the benefits are wonderful.

What is an Heirloom Seed?

Heirloom seeds are those handed down generation to generation. Although they are found in some seed catalogs or available for sale online, true heirloom seeds are more often passed among individuals. They are seeds that come from plants that have grown in open pollination and without human intervention.

Benefits of Seed Saving

Saving seeds can be a beneficial as well as rewarding activity. By saving seeds from your garden, you can save money on next year’s garden. If you save your seeds, you won’t have to buy more. Saving seeds also ensure quality. If you grow organic fruits and veggies, you know the seeds you save are organic as well.

How to Save Seeds

The basic process for preparing fruits and vegetables for seed harvesting is to separate the seeds from the flesh, rinse the seeds and then let them dry before storing them.
Last night I read an article in Sunset magazine about saving tomato seeds. Here’s a quick rundown of the process they suggested:

  1. Place the seeds and juice of a garden tomato in a jar.
  2. Let the jar sit out for a few weeks or until there is a layer of mold on top. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the jar.
  3. Carefully discard the top layer of mold and any seeds that didn’t sink.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of water to the mix and repeat the process until the seeds at the bottom are clean.

If you want to save seeds from flowers the consensus seems to be that you should let the seeds dry as long as possible while still on the plant.

Need More Reasons to Save Seeds? 7 Reasons to Save Garden Seeds

Tips for Storing Seeds
After your seeds have dried completely they can be stored in small paper bags. Be sure to label the bags so you know which seeds are where. Some seeds, such as flower seeds, store better in sealed jars. When the seeds are packaged keep them in an area that is cool and dry. If you can, use your seeds the following year as the quality of the seeds decrease year by year.
Home and Family

Airport hotel fontane Berlin

Berlin is a great place to holiday with your family and friends. Popular destinations, including Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall and the Wall Victims Memorial, would surely you’re your trip memorable. And while you plan a trip to Berlin, a good hotel is your primary requisite. So, Airport Hotel Fontane Berlin is the best choice for you.

Furnished in the latest and unique modern designs, Airport Hotel Fontane Berlin is one of the best in its own kinds. Constructed in the year 2002, the hotel is a perfect blend of tradition and modernity. You can see and feel traditional style in the interiors as well as in its facilities and services. Similarly, it offers modernity in form of modern and luxurious comforts of the hotel.

Situated in the south of Berlin, the hotel is only 8 kms from the airport Schönefeld, which adds to its other locational advantages. The hotel proves the acclaim that it has been honoured with “First Class Superior” hotel by the German Hotel Association. It is the one stop destination for providing business and leisure facilities. It has a capacity of around 200 rooms that are well-equipped with modern facilities, such as work desk, data port, daily newspaper and mini bar. The tourists can enjoy and refresh themselves with a wide range of recreational activities, including gymnasium, whirlpool, steam room and sauna. The hotel is famous for its ‘Theodors restaurant’. It’s a perfect place to relish the cuisines of regional and international menus. Also, it offers some of the best and choicest collection of wines.

The tourists to the hotel can enjoy various sports facilities that include tennis court, fitness centre, golf course, biking, walking, cycling, bowling and horse riding. Those who wish to relax their nerves can get benefit from the amenities of solarium, spa, and wellness centre and a massage room. The hotel provides a range of other premium facilities, such as laundry, dry cleaning, ironing, internet, currency exchange, shoe shine, fax or photocopying, Wi-Fi and wireless LAN services.

All rooms are provided with an attached bathroom facility that comprises of amenities, including shower, hairdryer and hot and cold water system. The tourists are served a-la-carte and buffet styled breakfast amongst the lush-green environs of the hotel.

For business meetings, the facility of conference rooms with latest audiovisual equipments is available. The hotel also offers facilities, such as 24-hour front desk, non-smoking rooms, elevator services, express check-in and check-out, as well as luggage and ski storage. The hotel accepts major credit cards, including American Express, Visa, Euro/Mastercard, Diners Club, PIN and Maestro.

Home and Family

A Gift for a Graduate

Throughout a person’s life there are certain moments that stand out more than others, engrained in their minds forever. This is a moment of great achievement that is the result of a lot of hard work and determination. For many people, one of these moments is their graduation. The stepping-stone to bigger and better things to come, to new horizons. Sometimes these experiences can be very emotional and exciting.

People hear the word “graduate,” and they automatically thin high school. However,, graduates come in all shapes and sizes. Whether the graduate is a university student receiving a degree, a technical or trades student receiving a certificate, a student receiving their black belt or even a student finishing that challenging first year of kindergarten, their success deserves to be acknowledged.

Of course we always want to be there to share the experience with our loved ones and friends, however, many times this is simply not possible. How then can you be at two places at the same time? You can’t. Not physically anyway. But why not consider the convenient tool of shopping online. Send a loved one or friend a great unique gift to express your love and pride in their achievement.

Some great example of unique gifts for graduates could be a beautiful flower bouquet, or a fresh flower arrangement celebrating their accomplishment. If sending flowers does not seem to fit, then why not try sending a more unique gift, a gift basket. Gift baskets can cater to one of their personal interests. This is very possible to do by using the Internet and online shopping to our advantage.

You might want to write down these special days on your calendar to ensure that they are not forgotten. Also allow yourself enough time to find the perfect flower bouquet or flower arrangement.

Home and Family

Aging and Mid Life Crisis

Isn’t it time to put into action all the things you dream about? Have you not spent the first 20 years of your life being trained and conditioned as someone’s child or student? Following all the instructions and rules set forth before you. Remember those that ended up rebellious always paying the task masters for that small taste of self expression?

Along comes the next 20 years where we believe that we are putting into reality our own ideas and life desires. We become someone’s mate, parent, employee and still keep our place that society has molded for us. We seem to be performing that wonderful balancing act of keeping everyone in our lives happy with our choices. Time is passing and something inside tells us that we aren’t fulfilled where we are in life. That all these choices have been for everyone else in our lives and not for us. There must be something more out there! Will someone think you’re selfish? It sits in the back of our mind and starts showing up in our dreams. We try to ignore it and yet we become dissatisfied with the choices we made. Yet, we have no idea what we would do instead!

Along comes our forties and with it a new found confidence. The ability to assert ourselves comes to the surface. It’s not always a pretty site and can be somewhat frightening at first but hang in there because maturity blossoms. They call it a “Mid Life Crisis” but I like to think of it as a time frame to create and express who you really are. The truth and nothing but the truth will free up your mind, heart and soul. You’re no longer looking for approval. You want real friends, loving partners and people in your life to know that you’re living life and not just existing. Don’t just become Aging Baby Boomers.

How do you do this? How do you explore yet meet all the realistic goals of this aging process? Many of us have no one to ask or to even bounce ideas off of. The generation gaps are to large and the concepts of what is necessary for a solid future definitely do not match. We have to learn to share and outsource our ideas and information. Taking stock of where we are and the directions we want to take can get that excitement back in our lives. Set those goals for yourself and share goals with those you love and share lives with. Skip over the depression stage and take those thoughts and dreams and find someone to help you turn them into reality. There are life coaches, financial advisors, therapists, friends and loved ones who will be able to help guide you and encourage you on your journey.
Have the desire to enjoy everyday of your life.

Garden Design

Spring Cleaning Outdoors: Sprucing Up Your Landscape After Winter

Spring Cleaning Outdoors: Sprucing Up Your Landscape After Winter
Does your home’s exterior look drab after being neglected all winter? Spring is the perfect time to clear the outdoor clutter in anticipation of the planting season. You instantly improve your home’s curb appeal and get to soak up all the warm spring weather. Here’s how to do it.
Turn Over a New Leaf
We raked and raked last fall, but we always seem to end up with dead leaves in our yard come spring. Removing the brown leaves makes the lawn look better and gives the grass an all-access pass to the sun and rainwater of spring. While you’re at it, pick up any sticks or branches that fell into the yard.
Clean the Beds
Now is the time to clean out your existing planting beds to prep them for the flowers or vegetables you’ll plant soon. Get rid of any leaves or leftover plant debris in the beds. Till the soil to make it workable. This is also a good time to add organic material like compost to your planting beds and any soil amendments needed to make the soil fertile.
Don’t forget your planters. If you use them for annuals, empty the soil you used last year and clean the pot. You can sanitize your flower pots with a mixture of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts of water. Soak the containers for 10 minutes or longer and rinse thoroughly.
All Hands on Deck
Your patio and deck can probably use a spring cleaning, too. Hose off the outdoor living spaces to get rid of dirt and sand that build up over winter. If you have a brick patio or walkway, check the joints to see if they need more sand. Scrub down your patio furniture so you’re ready for outdoor entertainment.
Spruce It Up
With everything outside cleaned, you can look for little improvements that will make your landscape pop. Repaint the fence. Power wash the foundation. Add shutters to your windows. Replace the railings on your deck. These little outdoor home improvement projects get your home’s exterior in shape and improve curb appeal with just a little effort and money.
Garden Design

Take Your Spring Planting Vertical for Dramatic Effect

Take Your Spring Planting Vertical for Dramatic Effect
The past few years, I have noticed more and more ways to go vertical in your garden. Bringing your plants and flowers up and away from the ground level not only expands the area available for planting, but greatly increases the interest and visual impact of your space. If you have only ever placed plants in ground level pots or in the soil directly, you may be a little reluctant to explore this vertical space, but there are easy ways to get started. Here are a few.
Install hanging planters
If you have an expanse of fence or a blank wall, that could be a perfect place to install hanging planters and add a beautiful splash of color. Make sure to anchor your planters securely using the proper tools and fasteners for the base material you are working with, be it brick, wood, stucco or another surface.
Take caution when selecting plants, as the raised and exposed surface may be much warmer and more brightly lit than the nearby ground. A brick wall facing west, for example, retains heat long after the sun goes down. You may need to select plants that are better able to handle heat and direct sunlight and water more frequently in order to keep your blooms healthy.
Build a flower tower
You can build a tall, flowering tower of sorts using either large diameter PVC pipe drilled with randomly spaced holes or a cylinder made of sturdy fence lined with black plastic. If you use the fence and plastic, cut X-shaped holes, randomly spaced in the plastic up and down the cylinder.
Fill the cylinder of your choice with potting soil, then plant petunias, impatiens or other bright, spreading flowers in the randomly spaced holes. Plant flowers in the top of the cylinder, too. You can stick with all one color, or place a variety of colors for a more striking effect. The tower will look sparse at first, but with a little water and fertilizer, the flowers will fill in quickly and give you a blooming column of color all summer long.
Climbing vines of color
One of the easiest ways to add color to a porch or trellis is to plant a hardy, climbing vine that flowers all summer long. Morning glories or clematis add gorgeous blossoms within ever climbing greenery, and you can train them to go wherever you want with just a little bit of twine.
Not sure if you want to keep a spreading vine in your garden forever? That’s okay. Just plant it in a large pot, like you would any other seasonal plant, and let it grow for the summer. If you want to do something different the next year, just pull the vines down in the fall and replant with something different in the spring.
Garden Design

Garden on the Cheap! How to Create a Palate Garden

Garden on the Cheap! How to Create a Palate Garden
I have a green thumb (well, at least when it comes to outdoor gardening, I can kill a houseplant faster than anyone I know). But this year, I have been limited by the inability to dig into the ground. Military housing will let us grow flowers, but not food. I know I want to grow food for ourselves. Gardening is a wonderful activity to share with my dirt-lovin’ kids. It is an important tool to teach. You know, the whole “Show them to fish” scenario. I started thinking about how I could build a garden, from the bottom up, without digging. It was on one trip to our local home improvement store that it hit me–wooden palates would be perfect!
Our local store has palates in the back. I asked an associate, and she said that they recycle them BUT if I ever saw some back there, that I was welcome to help myself. So, I stalked the store. Not really…the next time we went, there was a huge stack. So, we grabbed two. I also bought one roll of landscape fabric. I had a staple gun already, so I didn’t need anything else but soil. I got 4 bags of Miracle Grow garden soil, and I got some plants. I am in the deep south (military life–enables me to learn how the weather systems work in all parts of our great nation), so I was able to get all kinds of plants in early March. I started with some tomato, broccoli, peas, and swiss chard. I got seeds for lettuces, herbs, and green beans. And I got some marigold plants, because they are helpful to keep ants away & attract butterflies instead. We loaded up the minivan & headed home.
Once home, I took the palate and flipped it over. I unrolled the fabric (with the help of my 2 year old assistant) and measured enough to cover the bottom & wrap up each of the 2 end sides. I stapled it in 5 or 6 places on each end, until I felt it was secure. Then, I took it outside. I found a spot that got sunlight most of the day, but you need to place it specifically for the plants you choose (partial sun, full sun, etc). I emptied a bag of soil (1 cubic ft.) into the palate & spread it evenly. Then, I unpacked the plants and placed them where I wanted them to live (making sure to pay attention to how much space the plants needed) & then dug them into place. Some needed a little extra dirt to pack them in tight, so I opened bag #2 & filled in as necessary. I also did a quick web search to find beneficial companion plants for my selected veggies, and placed them together in the layout. A quick watering from the hose, and it was done.
From start to finish,each palate garden cost around $5 plus the cost of plants. I have created 3 so far, with a couple of palates waiting in the wings if I can convince my husband to lose a little more yard space. Gardening is good for my soul & that is a feeling I want to pass on to my kids, no matter the capacity.
Home and Family

A Guide To Wedding Gift Ideas

A marriage is a joyous moment in the life of two individuals. A couple shares this beautiful personal moment with their near and dear ones, who rejoice in their happiness. A wedding gift is a tangible depiction of the feelings of the giver for the couple. A gift has to be carefully chosen, keeping the couple’s individual tastes, likes and dislikes in mind, if it is intended to serve its purpose. Nothing is more distasteful and insulting than an inconsiderately given gift. A gift’s value is not determined by its monetary value, but it must communicate the giver’s thought appropriately and adequately.

While the market abounds in numerous gift options and alternatives, selecting the right gift for the couple can be a challenge sometimes. While one can overhaul the market, surf the net and burn a hole in the purse, choosing the perfect gift requires some thinking and a little homework. A giver should always strive to give something unique and different.

Personalized gifts always stand out and make a personal statement on behalf of the giver. A special memento, decorative crystal, or a paired watch with the couple’s names engraved in it along with the wedding date is something memorable for the wedding couple.

For very close relatives, a hand-made scrapbook complete with family pictures, or a family tree platter with hand-painted pictures of family members along with their names, signature photo quilts, or customized ceramic plates with the couples pictures and wedding dates etched on it are a few ideal gift options.

In case of a hard-core golf fan, one can give a golf set with the couple’s names engraved on it. A Bible with the couple’s names and wedding dates engraved on it is an ideal gift for a spiritually inclined couple. It is necessary to be aware and informed about a couple’s interests, hobbies, tastes and the like. A gift can be given based on this kind of information. Romantic gifts like photo pillows with the couple’s portraits on it can also be given. One can also give gift certificates, home décor items, classic gift items like crystal and silverware, or various wedding mementos like a polymer clay image or metal candles, just right for the mantel and keepsakes.

The choice of exchanging gifts for each other rests on the bride and the groom. Couples can exchange framed love poems, engraved jewelry or even unconventional items like a vintage car, for those who can afford it. A thoughtful gift certificate to a relaxing spa or a recreational resort is just the right way for the bride or bridegroom to express their gratitude and love for their parents. It is the thought that matters, and mere framed poetry or a handwritten letter to the parent is also as valuable, if not more.

Parents can give bridal showers, a party to acquaint the couple to the family, or some personalized gift items, including gift certificates. Thank-you gifts need not be expensive, but should cater to individual taste. It should be given according to the kind of relationship one shares with the guests.