10 Android Apps for the Garden

Apps that Make an Android a Must Have in the Garden

The app explosion of recent years has gotten into the gardening game. And Android users have a plethora of apps to which they can turn while in the garden.

1. Garden Manager: Plant Alarm
The Garden Manager is a lifesaver, namely saving the lives of my plants. The alarms on this app tells me when watering and fertilizing is needed. The Manager also allows me to track my progress with a photo log or a graph of my plants.

2. The Gardener’s Calendar
This app introduced me to moon planting. Something I have found useful for crop producing plants. The Calendar also offers up advice and tips about soil, pH levels, and germination temperatures.

3. Garden Squared
This app is simple but useful. Garden Squared helped me utilized my smaller gardening areas to their fullest. The app guides to best planning and planting practices in any size garden or planter.

4. ColdSnap! Frost Alarm
I discovered this app when I was concerned about my pipes bursting. But I realized that the alarm could be put to use in my garden. The app lets me know when I need to protect my agriculture from Jack Frost.

5. NatureGate
Too often I would come across a plant I adored but could not recognize. NatureGate ended my plant guessing game by providing identification of several plant species.

6. Expert Gardening Solutions
I have to know what the experts say. So downloading this app was a no brainer. Not only did this app give me all the expert tips I was looking for, it showed me how to garden smarter and how to save money doing it.

7. Pinterest
This app gives me gardening inspiration. With an entire category on gardening and pins from around the web, I never know what kind of encouragement or advice I will find on Pinterest.

8. Gardens Gardens is my new garden scrapbook. This app allows me to take pictures of my plants, add captions and share via Twitter, Facebook or email.

9. Garden Guide
This app drew me to it for a couple of reasons. It is the #1 bestselling gardening book on Amazon, and it’s app is available for free. Garden Guide is an easy read and great reference for people of all gardening levels.

10. Garden Insects Guide
This app helped with my squeamishness around insects. I downloaded the Guide to tell me who were friends and foes of the bug world. And I got info on how to get rid of the pests while luring planting partners. More gardening apps under this article


6 High Yield Fruits and Vegetables to Grow on a Fence

6 High Yield Fruits and Vegetables to Grow on a Fence
If you want to grow some vegetables but don’t think you have the space, why not look upwards instead? Vertical gardening lets you take advantage of fences, trellises and exterior walls to grow fruits and vegetables in tiny spaces.
Blackberries or raspberries
I grow my berry bushes along a chain link fence which does a great job of camouflaging the alley while keeping my family well supplied with fresh berries. A healthy blackberry bush will produce between 10-20 pounds of fruit a season, a single raspberry bush slightly less.
Grapes are another family favorite at our house though do require full sun to grow. Grape vines can be trained to grown along a fence, over a pergola or on a trellis. I usually harvest about 15-20 clusters of grapes per plant.
Lemon cucumbers
I’ve only started growing this unusual vegetable a few years ago and love the compact size of the fruit which makes it ideal for growing along a porch rail or small trellis. Lemon cucumber plants are very prolific and easy to grow. Last year, our average yield was between 20-30 cucumbers per plant.
Pole Beans
Certain bean varieties are known as “pole” plants, meaning they can be trained to climb upon a fence or trellis for bountiful yields. Pole beans have 2-3 times the yield of bush varieties and have a much longer growing season. Average yield per plant is about 5-6 pounds.
Pickling cucumbers
Our family eats a lot of relish which is why pickling cucumbers are a staple in my garden too. Pickling cucumbers are much smaller than standard market cucumbers which means that they won’t break the vine as they grow. Most pickle and relish recipes call for at least 4-6 pounds of pickles per recipe which is why you’ll need to plant at least 8 plants.
Apples, peaches, plums, and cherries
While we don’t think about growing fruit trees along a fence line, the old art of espalier training makes it possible to grow orchard fruits in tight, compact spaces along a fence or a wall. The yields are fantastic in relation to the space — for instructions for espalier training fruit trees in your yard, check out the Mother Earth News article: How to espalier apple trees. Need more ideas? check this article called 4 Fruits You Can Easily Grow
A lack of yard space doesn’t mean that you can’t have a micro orchard or vegetable garden. Thanks to vining fruits, pole vegetables, and tree varieties that can be espalier trained, it is possible to grow food for your family in hardly any space at all.

10 Problems You Can Solve With Gardening Apps Today

Touted as a fun-filled pastime that leaves you envisioning yourself with a set of pruning shears, a floppy sunhat and a watering can, there is nevertheless a lot more to successful gardening. When the pests come along, the white mold covers the leafs and slugs have all but decimated your seedlings, there is an app for that. Ten gardening apps can solve the most common gardening problems. What are our favorite apps?

1. Garden Compass Plant/Disease Identifier for the Brown Thumb
Free of charge, this gardening app is suitable for the iPhone and iPad. If the recurring brown dustings on the underside of your plant leaf are a mystery to you and the staff at the big box home improvement store where you bought the plants, this app lets you upload a photo of the diseased leaf. Gardening experts review and identify your pest. They even tell you what to use to get rid of it.

2. Garden Time Planner for the Newcomer to Gardening
Designed by Burpee and available as a free download for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, you now have the opportunity to have a task list customized for your garden region. Remember when to sow your seeds or transplant your seedlings.

3. Gardening Toolkit Turns Forgetful Beginners into Green Thumbs
At the modest cost of $1.99, you can turn your prior gardening disasters into successes. This gardening app allows your iPhone to teach you about hardiness zones, lets you set fertilizer reminders and helps you manage optimal planting times and locations for your favorite crops.

4. Grow Planner from Mother Earth News Converts an iPad into a Graph Planner
At a cost of $9.99, this is one of the more expensive iPad apps you might consider downloading. Even so, it is well worth the expense when you are thinking of redoing your garden’s layout. Not only can you transform your iPad into graph paper and plot out your flowerbeds, but you also have the opportunity to let the app automatically provide you with plant spacing data and planting schedules.

5. iGarden USA lets you Time Planting and Harvesting Schedules
Compatible with the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad, this app costs $4.99. Although costly, it serves as a comprehensive scheduler for planting and harvesting times. Personalization allows you to enter your planting data and estimate harvesting dates.

6. Landscaper’s Companion Transforms the Hobbyist into an Expert
Available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, this reference app costs $4.99. Priced a bit higher than conventional gardening applications, it is well worth the money when you want to focus on expanding and honing your skills with certain plant groups. Specialize in the growth of herbs, roses, fruit trees and other flora. The app tells you about the ideal growing environment and some plant backgrounds as well.

7. The Plant Doctor Provides Interactive Diagnosis for Plant Diseases
A great free resource, the app is available in English and Spanish for your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Suitable for the professional as well as the hobbyist, you supply the photographs and the detailed description, and a professional plant pathologist gives you feedback. If you only download one gardening app this year, make it this one!
If you have not yet invested in an iPhone or iPad, do not fret. There are also Android applications available.

8. Bugs in the Garden Offers a Quick-ID Database for Common Pests
Are you wondering what is crawling around on your tomato plant or chewing away at your artichokes? This gardening app from the Google Play Store costs $0.99 and lets you identify beetles, aphids and other pests in adult and larval stages.

9. Gardening 101 is a Mix of Education and Entertainment
For the hobbyist who is not above the idea of playing flower puzzles, watching videos and learning about gardening with herbs, this free app is the right download.

10. Vegetable Gardening 101 is for the Beginner in Need of Perspective
Does the whole idea of growing a vegetable garden leave you hyperventilating in panic? There is no need for dread! This app is a succinct reference guide that walks you through the process of seeding, transplanting, caring for and finally harvesting your vegetables. Available for free, this is a great way of getting the bigger picture before plunging into the hobby.


Garden Ideas That Kids Will Love

When it comes to creating the perfect family garden you have to have a space for the kids. One thing I always love to see is the kids out in the yard having a good time. One way for them to want to get out is to give them their own space and projects in the yard. So I thought it would be a good idea to list some kid friendly garden ideas, that the entire family will enjoy. Keep in mind that young children will need to be supervised in the yard. The ideas listed below are mostly for kids over the age of eight.
Climbing wall
A simple, small climbing wall is the perfect addition to any yard where there are kids. A climbing wall is easy to add to your yard, since all you need to do is order it. Then you will need to find the perfect spot in the yard for the climbing wall. If your yard is big enough then you will want to add it to the middle of the yard. The climbing wall does not have to be large like the ones you usually see, where you would need a harness. It could be a simple one that they can easily climb over to the other side.
Hopscotch Garden
A hopscotch garden is exactly what it sounds like. You can make large wooden hopscotch pads for your children to skip on. The fun part is that you can pick up the wooden blocks from your local arts and craft store, or you can pick up the wood from a local home improvement store. Once you have the wood pieces you can have your children help you paint them a variety of colors, and add the numbers. It may be a good idea to put a water resistant sealant on the wood pieces as well to protect them from the weather. Then take them out in the garden and plant them. You will literally need to dig about half an inch into the ground so that the wooden pieces will be flush with the ground. Then be sure to secure them by filling in the dirt around the wood pieces.
Wooden Tool shed
Why not take some time to build your child a wooden tool shed, just the right size for them. I’m not talking about a club house, but a place where they can keep their own gardening supplies, and any other tools they can use to be creative and build things in the yard. Of course what goes in their wooden tool shed depends on their age as well. This can also be a nice art space for your kids as well.
Want your kid to have a green tumb this article will help you achieve that Five Vegetables Your Kids Will Love to Grow (and Eat!)

Best Gardening Apps for Android Devices

Gardening information has gone mobile and you can be only a few finger taps away on an Android device from having a green thumb. These free and handy apps will give you an advantage in creating perfect flower, herb, or food gardens.

Garden Manager: Plant Alarm
Garden Manager: Plant Alarm is a cute and essential app that helps you keep track of your plants’ watering, spraying, and fertilizing times by allowing you to set an alarm on your mobile device. The app also allows you to watch your plants’ growth progress through “selfie” uploaded photos and via notes of your planting experiences you can share through social media. The free app comes with advertisements but the paid version disables ads.

Landscape Calculator
The Harvest Power of We nonprofit has a free Landscape Calculator that helps you regulate how much soil, mulch, or stone you need for a gardening project. Enter the depth on the handy slider rule, add in the area of your garden, and the app calculates guidelines on how much fertilizer and other nutrients you need to nourish the soil. The app also shows fill conversions of soil into indoor plant containers, as well as displaying tips on how to apply compost to your garden. It is a useful app from an organization dedicated to the better management of soil and organic waste.

The Beginner’s Gardening Guide
The Beginners Gardening Guide is a helpful and free app that has information native to the app and links to such content as videos, a useful companion website, local news, and local calendar events. The app is well-organized and the text is not confusing for the novice gardener when unfamiliar terms are clearly explained. This is a must-have app for both new and seasoned gardeners.

Experts Gardening Solutions

Expert Gardening Solutions, by the same author of the Beginners Gardening Guide, is a free app for those who have more experience in gardening. The app is focused on garden design ideas, practical budgeting, and organic gardening. This app offers the same features as the novice version with video links, website, local calendar events, and news resources. The app, like the beginner version, is not ad-free, but it’s a minimal distraction that does not detract from the wealth of useful information.
Vegetable Gardening 101 is a useful book app that gives you information ranging from how to deal with insects to keeping your garden rid of pests like rabbits. The book has margin ads but this is a small distraction from the wealth of knowledge in the free app.


Basil: The King’s Herb

Basil: The King's Herb
A relative of mint, with squarish stems about two feet high, oval leaves that are usually dark green with pointy ends, Basil was used by European royalty for millennia. It has many names and many types but is easy to cultivate and is great for cooking. Below is a tour of basil’s uses and history.
Types of Basil
Sweet basil is the most common culinary herb, but there are about 150 different types of basil. Fortunately the names indicate the taste: there’s lemon basil, licorice basil, cinnamon basil, and anise basil. Other varieties include lettuce leaf basil, which is great in salads. Ornamental basils include green ruffle basil and purple ruffle basil. Opal basil is a more moderate version of sweet basil while Holy basil is extremely pungent. Camphor basil is good for repelling moths and mosquitoes.
History & Folklore
The word “basileus” is Greek for king, which is where the herb was first associated with royalty. In Greece today it is used to scare away the “karkanzari,” souls banished to disturb the living. Medieval Italians feared the herb and there is a superstition that if one puts a basil leaf under a pot it will turn into a scorpion. During the Victorian era basil made a comeback and represented love and good wishes. In Haiti it was associated with the love goddess Erzulie and was placed on burning alters to foretell the fate of a relationship. Currently basil is said to bring luck in most cultures and to clear away negativity. Western Europeans generally consider it to have protective qualities and will sprinkle it in the four corners of a room.
Growing Basil
Basil is an annual, it cannot withstand cold and must be replaced every year. It grows well once the ground is at least 50 degrees and does not do well in droughts. It is easy to grow from seed and takes about 3-7 days to germinate with good water and warm soil. The seeds need warmth to germinate. Basil should be planted one eighth of an inch deep and culled within about a one foot area. That means that once the seeds start sprouting it’s a good idea to leave the best seeds alone and pull out all the weak sprouts within a half a foot of the strong ones. Growing basil is similar to growing peppers, in fact they can grow near each other. In addition, basil will enhance the growth and taste of tomatoes and asparagus – the pungent smell keeps insects away. Do not plant basil near rue, rue is bitter and the plants will not grow near each other.
Leaves should be harvested while young, before the flowering tops open. When you harvest, take about a third of the length of the whole plant each time. Depending on temperature and rainfall you may be able to harvest once a month to once a week throughout the summer. Leaves can be frozen, dried, or stored in oil. It takes about four to six days for the leaves to dry on a drying rack or they usually respond well in a microwave if placed between paper towels on a high setting for one minute. Any heat will dissipate the oil in the basil leaves so never leave stored basil out in direct light or near the stove.
Basil is great to cook with but not for everybody – it has the flavor of pepper with a trace of mint or lemon, etc depending on the variety. Always add basil to your dish at the last minute so that the oil in the leaves will not have time to evaporate. It tastes great in a pesto or over chicken, fish, or steak. Enjoy! Next article about herbs 10 Popular Herbs to Grow for the Kitchen

How to Care for Your Christmas Cactus

How to Care for Your Christmas Cactus
There is nothing more beautiful than a Christmas cactus in full bloom. With proper care and a little bit of love, a Christmas cactus will grow larger, stronger and healthier bringing you joy for many, many years. I have had my cactus for fifteen years and when a sprig would accidentally get knocked off, I would replant it, but only after doing one step to prepare it for the soil. When it was healthy enough, I would give it away as a gift. You don’t need a degree in botany to have a beautiful Christmas cactus, all you need are some directions and the desire to grow such a glorious plant.

What is A Christmas Cactus?
The Christmas cactus, also known as Schlumbergera and Zygocactus is a relatively small genus of cacti that grows on trees or rocks in the coastal mountains of Brazil. According to there are six species of Christmas cacti and they grow in shady habitats with high humidity and are quite different from their desert dwelling cousins. The Christmas cactus has several other names such as; the Holiday cactus, the Easter cactus and the Thanksgiving cactus. When the Christmas cactus flowers, the flowers can be white, pink, yellow, orange, red and purple. The Christmas cactus blooms between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the northern hemisphere and between Easter and May in the southern hemisphere. Strangely, my cactus usually blooms at both Christmas time and Easter affectionately earning it the name the Chreaster cactus.

Caring For Your Christmas Cactus
Caring for and maintaining your Christmas cactus is relatively easy and by following some basic rules you will be able to enjoy your cactus for many, many years. When it comes to watering and sunlight, its best to;

  • · Light- keep your plants in a sunny location indoors, but if move outside during the summer, keep it in a semi-shady location. Too much light can burn and damage the leaves.
  • · Soil- well-drained soil is a must for a Christmas cactus. Use a commercially packaged mix for succulent plants.
  • · Water- A Christmas cactus is a succulent plant and can store a reasonable amount of water in its leaves. Water thoroughly when the top half of the soil feels dry to the touch. The length of time between watering will vary depending on temperature, amount of light and humidity.
  • · Re-potting- plants should be re-potted every two or three years or when the pot is filled with roots and the soil looks depleted.

Re-planting A Section That Has Broken Off
Don’t throw that broken piece away, do what I do. Get a glass milk jug, tall glass or cup or any other suitable container and fill it just about to the top with cold tap water. Place the broken piece of the cactus in the container of water and place it on a windowsill where it can get some sunlight. If it’s during the summertime, place it in an area where it gets a modest amount of sunlight. As the water level drops, keep refilling the container. Eventually you will see tiny roots sprouting from the bottom of the broken piece. When this happens, transplant it into a new pot of soil and follow the directions for proper care. Soon you will see it begin to grow larger and stronger.
A Christmas cactus is a beautiful and wonderful plant that will bring you years of stunning beauty when it blooms.