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What To Plant With A Late Start In The Garden

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Jun 25, 2019

start-late-tomatoe-garden

Were you really busy this spring? Maybe you had plans to plant a great vegetable garden, but it just never happened. No worries! There are vegetables you can plant at the end of June so you can still enjoy a flourishing garden this year.

Vegetables to Plant When You Get a Late Start

When looking for vegetables to plant in late June, I suggest you choose some that grow very quickly. In short, as the Rolling Stones would say, you want time on your side! For example, green beans mature in about 60 or 70 days. Beets mature in 45 to 60 days, while radishes mature in just 21 days.

Another tip to keep in mind is to plant smaller versions of traditional garden vegetables. For instance, cherry tomatoes are ideal for planting in late June. They are small and take less time to mature compared to a collection of beefsteak tomatoes. Also, go with small roasting potatoes in your garden as opposed to large baking potatoes. You can still grow your favorites at this time of year, but in smaller sizes.

Other fast-growing vegetables to consider for June include:

  • Cucumbers
  • Small onions
  • Yellow crookneck squash
  • Carrots

Try Some Cool-Weather Veggies

Another idea is to plant the seeds of some cool-weather vegetables in containers and keep them indoors. Cabbage, kale, spinach, peas, and broccoli are some good cold-weather veggies to start now. In August, you can transplant the seedlings into your garden. After going into your garden in August, they should be flourishing in October. Remember, these vegetables would not be suitable for planting in your garden in late June: They do not do well in the summer heat.

Seedlings vs. Seeds at This Time of Year

It's best to go with seedlings for many types of vegetables in late June. For instance, it's a bit late to start your tomato plants from seeds. Find tomato plants with developed vines so they already have a head start before they go into your garden. Some fast-growing vegetables you can grow by planting seeds at this time of year include mustard greens, beets, cucumbers, and beans.

Consider Your Planting Zone

Locating where you live on the plant hardiness zone map is the quickest way to find out exactly what you can successfully plant in late June. For instance, if you live in zone 7 on the plant hardiness map, you can plant cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and summer squash at this time of year. Pinpointing your place on this helpful map increases your chances of planting a successful garden in late June.

Tips for Gardening on Hot Summer Days

One of the best parts of mid-to-late-summer gardening is getting out in the sunshine. It's a great way to spend an afternoon. I like to take in all the wonderful sounds of summer. To keep cool while you garden, try moistening a towel with cool water to put on your neck as you work. Wear a hat with a floppy brim to protect your face and neck from the heat of the sun. Or keep a small spray bottle handy and give yourself a spritz with cool water every 20 minutes or so.

Get outside and have some fun in your garden. You have a whole lot of summer left to enjoy! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: start late garden

How To Attract Good Bugs And Deter Bad Bugs From The Garden

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Jun 12, 2019

attract-good-bugs-and-deter-bad-bugs

Have you noticed some bugs hanging around your vegetable garden? If so, don't be so quick to get rid of them: They may be beneficial for your vegetables. But how do you know for sure? I can help you with that! Today, I'm looking at how to put out the welcome mat for the good bugs and send the bad ones down the road.

Bugs That Are Good for Your Garden

It's in the best interest of your veggie garden to make it inviting to the following beneficial insects. Some good insects eat bad ones, preventing them from damaging the vegetables in your garden. Also, when you have good insects in your garden, you can avoid using harmful pesticides to protect your vegetables.

Ladybugs

Yep, ladybugs are on the good bug list! They specialize in eating aphids. In fact, they've been known to eat 50 or so aphids in one day. They also protect a garden from mites, mealybugs, and leafhoppers. You can make your vegetable garden appealing to ladybugs by planting yarrow, cilantro, and/or fennel.

Bees

Bees are pollinators that help a garden to flourish. You can make your garden attractive to them by planting colorful vegetables as well as pansies, lavender, or marigolds.

Praying Mantis

Seeing a praying mantis or two in your garden may give you the creeps, but they're helping your vegetables grow. They eat crickets, caterpillars, beetles, and moths that are destructive to a garden. Keep in mind that tall grass, marigolds, or shrubs are all inviting to praying mantis.

Ground Beetles

Ground beetles eat slugs, cabbage maggots, snails, and cutworms that can harm your vegetables. Creating a compost pile attracts ground beetles and helps you and your family to be more environmentally friendly, too.

Damsel Bugs

If you have a problem with cabbage worms, aphids, or caterpillars, then invite some damsel bugs to your garden. They love eating those and other pests. Plant some spearmint or fennel to make your garden more appealing to damsel bugs.

Bugs That Are Bad for Your Garden

Aphids

Aphids gnaw on the sensitive tissues of a plant. Also, they leave behind a substance that causes mold in a garden. Ladybugs, damsel bugs, and minute pirate bugs are all aphid-eaters. Petunias and marigolds are also repellent to aphids.

Maggots

These garden pests feast on the roots of vegetables. They can kill seedlings in no time. Putting a floating cover over your vegetables can prevent flies from leaving their eggs behind on your plants.

Spider Mites

Spider mites suck out a plant's juices, causing leaves to dry out and turn yellow. Be on the lookout for silk webs on the undersides of your plant leaves. Ladybugs, praying mantises, and assassin bugs are all insects that eat spider mites.

Potato Beetles

These bugs chew on leaves, making your vegetable garden look like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. Ladybugs eat the larvae of potato beetles. (Ladybugs are certainly the stars of a garden!) Also, consider planting catnip, garlic, and nasturtiums as natural repellents to these bugs.

I hope you have plenty of welcome visitors in your vegetable garden this summer! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: attract good bugs and deter bad bugs

7 Natural Methods For Cleaning The Grill

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Jun 5, 2019

cleaning-grill

The upside of firing up the grill for your family and friends is that you get to try delicious recipes such as quadruple chili cheeseburgers and honey-grilled chicken. The downside is cleaning the grit and grime off of the grill when the fun is over. If you're hesitant to clean your grill with store-bought solutions containing chemicals, then you're in luck! Today, I'm giving you the lowdown on some natural cleaning solutions that can really get the goop, grime, and grease off of your grill.

  1. White Vinegar and Aluminum Foil: Get a bottle of white vinegar from the grocery store and pour some of it into a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar onto your grill, wait three minutes, and scrub the grill with a sheet of aluminum foil. The acid in the vinegar loosens the burned residue, and the aluminum removes it.
  2. An Onion: Heat up your grill to loosen up the leftover bits of burned meat. Next, cut an onion in half, poke a fork into it, and scrub the hot grill with the cut half facing downward. If your grill is especially dirty, spray lemon juice on it before scrubbing with your onion. I think the best part about this method is that you probably already have a stash of onions on hand for your burgers!
  3. A Cleaning Solution With a Citrus Twist: This natural cleaning solution is made of citrus peels, citrus oils and, of course, good old white vinegar. After spraying this solution on a hot grill, getting rid of the grime is an easy process.
  4. Coffee Time! Who knew that coffee could clean a grimy grill?! Simply brew some inexpensive coffee and pour it onto your grill. Let the solution sit for an hour, then gently scrub off the loosened debris. Finish the job by pouring hot water over the grill. This method is great for cleaning your grill and helping you cut down on the caffeine.
  5. Baking Soda and White Vinegar. Put one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of white vinegar into a liter of hot water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto your grill and let it soak in for an hour. Finally, scrub your grill with a soft brush.
  6. The Power of Steam: Find a shallow tin dish and fill it with water. Light your barbecue, put the dish of water inside it, and close the lid. The water will boil, causing steam to flow all around inside your grill. The steam loosens the grit on the grill, making it easier to brush off.
  7. Give Your Grill a Beer: While your grill is still warm, pour half a bottle of beer over it. The beer will loosen the grease and grit, allowing you to scrub it off with ease. Cheers!

I hope you try one or more of these easy, natural ways to clean your grill. Your hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken will taste even better knowing that you clean your grill the natural way. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: cleaning grill

The Best Apps For Plant And Flower Identification

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, May 31, 2019

plant-and-flower-identification 

Have you ever seen a flower, plant, or tree and wished you knew its name? Maybe you recently spotted a plant in your yard that looks a lot like poison ivy and you want to know for sure. Well, guess what? There's an app for that! In fact, there are many plant identification apps. Check out these apps that can help you identify mystery flowers and plants all around you.

  1. PlantSnap. This Android app is easy to use and gives you accurate plant identification results in seconds. All you do is snap a picture and upload it to the app. The results come from a database of 585,000-plus plant species. This app is a free download.
  2. FlowerChecker. Take a photo of a plant, upload it in the app, and get your plant ID results from an expert botanist in an hour or less. FlowerChecker is compatible with Apple devices and costs $1 per successful identification of a plant.
  3. iNaturalist. If you like talking with other nature lovers about flowers and plants, this may be the app for you. Simply take a photo of a plant and share it in the app. Other nature-lovers will chime in with what they think you're looking at. This free app is compatible with Android devices.
  4. PictureThis. This free app has more than 30,000,000 users! Take a picture of a plant, upload it, and get identification results shortly thereafter. The results are provided by plant enthusiasts all over the globe. This app is Android- and iPhone-compatible.
  5. GardenAnswers. This free app is compatible with both iPhone and Android. Take a photo of a plant or flower, hit submit, and receive ID results from experts in horticulture. If you want fast, accurate results, this is a great choice!
  6. LikeThat Garden. The free LikeThat Garden app is compatible with Apple devices. Take a photo and get your results from the app's extensive database of plants and flowers. Read detailed descriptions and view more pictures of the plant you're interested in.
  7. Plantifier. Take a picture of an unknown plant or flower and let a community of plant enthusiasts help you to identify it. Plantifier is a free app and compatible with both Apple and Android devices.
  8. iPflanzen. Instead of taking a photo, iPflanzen asks you to provide information on the traits of an unknown plant. Results come from an extensive database of flowers and plants. I like the idea of an app that gets kids and adults studying the colors, shapes, and sizes of flowers. This free app is compatible with Apple devices and can work with other apps, including iGarten and iForest.
  9. Garden Tags. Take a picture of an unknown plant and share it with the community on Garden Tags. Get plant identification from fellow plant-lovers. This is a free app compatible with Android. In addition to plant IDs, you can get gardening tips and advice on this app.
  10. NatureGate. Instead of taking a photo to get an ID, enter information on a plant including its number of petals, color, habitat, and leaf shape. Entering information about a plant really gives you the opportunity to study it. NatureGate is a free app and compatible with iPhones.

A walk in the woods is even more enjoyable with the help of these and other plant identification apps. If you're a science teacher, take your students on a field trip to the woods and challenge them to identify at least 20 flowers. If you're a parent, while you're on vacation in the mountains or at the lake, work with your kids to discover and identify unfamiliar flowers together. Make a game of seeing which family member can identify the most flowers in 30 minutes! Talking about the flowers they've identified is another way to get kids excited about the natural world around them.

Next time you see an interesting-looking flower or plant, consult your go-to plant ID app and get all the answers. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: apps plant identifcation

Guide To Getting Your Pool Ready For The Summer

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, May 30, 2019

getting-pool-ready-for-summer

A backyard swimming pool is a great thing to have, especially in the depths of a humid summer. If you're lucky enough to have your own swimming pool, I have a quick guide to help you with the grand opening this year!

Take Off the Pool Cover

Before removing the pool cover, use a broom or leaf blower to clean off the leaves, sticks, and other debris so they won't fall into your pool. If any water has collected on top of your pool cover, use a submersible pump to drain it off. After removing the cover, use a hose to clean it and spread the cover out on the grass to dry. Once it's dry, fold it up and put it into storage.

Add Water and Reconnect Plumbing

Turn on your garden hose and put it into your pool. You want the water level to reach the mid-point of your skimmer so it can start to filter your pool water again. As the water rises, turn off the breakers to your swimming pool so you can replace all of the drain plugs on the filter and heater. Take the opportunity to reconnect the plumbing parts of your swimming pool equipment that were disconnected for the cold weather months.

Start the Pump

Once the water level is halfway up the skimmer, prime your pool pump. Be sure to remove the winterizing plugs you put into the skimmer and returns so the water flows freely.

Check the Pump for Leaks

Running the pump and the heater gives you the chance to look for leaks in your pipes. If you see one, use a piece of duct tape to mark the leaking area so you can get it repaired. If you don't have any leaks, run the pump all day and night so you can flush out all of the pipes completely.

Clean the Pool

With your pump running, the water in your pool is circulating and the skimmer is picking up floating debris. The drain at the bottom of your pool is also picking up debris. If the water in your pool is clear and you see leaves and other debris on the bottom, then get out your pool vacuum. Switch the valve on your filter to the waste setting so whatever travels into your vacuum goes directly to the waste port.

Test the Water

Once you're done vacuuming, take a sample of your pool's water using a testing kit. These kits test for chlorine, pH, and bromine. Go to the deep end and dip your sample vials at least a foot beneath the surface to get an accurate reading. Put the proper drops into the sample water and follow the directions as you read the results. Ask one of your children or grandkids to help you: It's a great opportunity for them to learn a simple lesson about chemistry! Once you have the results, start adding the necessary chemicals to your pool water according to their instructions.

Maintain Good Circulation

Continue to circulate the water in your pool for about 12 hours a day to make sure the system is working as it should. Check your chemical levels each day and add more if necessary. You want to get back to the point where your pool's chemical levels balance out.

Common Issues

Leaks in the pipes around your pool's pump or filter are a common occurrence. Take a few moments to tighten the connections before calling in a professional to make a repair.

Another common issue is algae. This is the green stuff that grows on the bottom of a pool and moves up its walls. You can shock the pool with chemicals to get rid of the algae growth.

Helpful Tips

  • Get a friend to help you open your pool. It's much easier to fold a pool cover, spot leaks, etc., with two people. Plus, the job is more enjoyable with a good friend.
  • Open your pool several days before Memorial Day if you can. Opening your pool before the traditional day allows you to avoid the crowds at the pool supply store and have quick access to a pool professional if you need one.

Good luck with opening your swimming pool this year! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: getting pool ready for summer

The Basics of Companion Planting In The Garden

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, May 21, 2019

companion-planting-in-the-garden

Do you love the idea of having your own garden full of tomatoes, beans, onions, squash, beets, melons, and cucumbers along with other veggies and fruits? Well, before you jump right in and start digging, consider companion planting. This type of planting can increase the odds that you'll have a flourishing, colorful garden this year.

What Is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is just what it sounds like. It's putting two or three plants together in a garden that will benefit one another as they grow. Of course, there are some veggies and fruits that are more companionable than others.

Vegetables and Fruits Perfect for Companion Planting

Lettuce and Tomatoes

Am I placing an order for a hamburger? No, these two items are companion plants. Tomato plants grow to be very tall. Their height provides shade and protection to lettuce, a cool-season veggie that grows near the ground. Eggplants can be substituted for tomato plants if you prefer.

Carrots and Radishes

These two veggies grow well together because they both grow underground but radishes are harvested first: They help loosen up the soil, then are harvested and make way for the carrots to grow.

Melons, Squash, and Herbs

If melons and squash are on the list of fruits for your garden, plant them beside dill, parsley, and fennel. These herbs are attractive to pollinators like butterflies and bees, and melons and squash require the help of pollinators to grow.

Onions and Peppers

The biggest part of an onion grows beneath ground level, so they claim very little space in your garden. Plus, they repel garden pests like slugs, cabbage worms, and aphids. These pests love to munch on peppers, making onions a suitable companion plant.

Corn, Pole Beans, and Pumpkin

The tall corn in this planting scenario gives the pole bean vines support as they grow. The pole beans add to the richness of the soil by releasing nitrogen into it. Pumpkins grow low to the ground and help to keep the soil moist for all three plants. In addition, pumpkins have spiny stems, which are a deterrent for rodents that want to chomp on the beans and corn! This companion combination is known as the three sisters.

Veggies and Fruits Not Suitable as Companion Plants

Not every plant is a good neighbor: There are some veggies and fruit plants that would just as soon stay clear of one another.

Tomatoes and Potatoes

Tomatoes and potatoes are not suitable for companion planting. They're both vulnerable to the same type of blight, so if one gets infected, the other will, too.

Green Beans and Onions

These two work well together in a casserole dish but not so much in the garden. Onions of any kind can slow down or even stop the growth of beans.

Cucumbers and Sage

It would seem like there's little harm in planting these two items together. However, a fragrant gathering of sage can attract garden pests such as aphids and whiteflies. These pests would accept the invitation and start to gnaw on your cucumbers.

Taking some time to plan can help you end up with a flourishing garden of vegetables and fruits. Thanks for reading. - Alan

How And Why You Should Mulch Your Yard In Spring

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, May 9, 2019

mulch-yard-in-spring

Take a look at your gardening to-do list for spring. Do you have mulching on your list? If not, it's a good idea to pencil it in. Putting down mulch in the month of May gets your yard and garden ready for the hot temperatures and blazing sunshine of summer. This week, I have some more reasons why you should mulch in the spring as well as how to go about it.

Reasons to Mulch Your Yard in the Springtime

When you put down a layer of mulch, it absorbs moisture. This moist layer protects your plants from the harsh sunlight and high temperatures of summer. Another reason to mulch in the spring is to prevent weed growth. You don't want to spend a lot of time pulling weeds in the spring, right? Mulch prevents sunlight from reaching the weeds, so they don't grow. In addition, a layer of mulch stops soil from washing away during rainstorms. The nutrients in the soil help plants and flowers to flourish.

How to Mulch

If you've never put down mulch before, the first step is to figure out where you want to put it. Your garden is an excellent place for mulch. Many people put it around trees and shrubs. If you have a walkway, think about putting mulch down as a border or even between concrete stepping stones.

The next step in the mulching process is preparing the spot. For instance, if you're putting mulch around a tree, lay down a circular border of stones or bricks. This border allows you to put down mulch in an even way around your tree and keeps it from tumbling into the grass. Make a border for your flower beds, garden, or anywhere else you plan to mulch. I like the idea of using the same type of border material around trees and flower beds. I think it brings even more harmony to the look of a landscape.

After creating your border, it's time to get some mulch. You can go to any garden store or big-box store with a garden department to purchase an appropriate amount of mulch. Organic is the best option because it adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.

Now, it's time to spread the mulch! Put on your gardening gloves and dump a bag or two of mulch into your wheelbarrow. Using a wheelbarrow makes it easy to transport mulch to different areas of your yard. Whether you're putting mulch around trees, shrubs, or flower beds, make sure the ground is completely covered. You can spread it easily and evenly with a garden hoe. Taking the time to spread mulch carefully around the base of each plant makes it look even neater.

What to Avoid

  • Avoid mulching plants not yet rooted in the ground. The mulch can suffocate them instead of helping them grow.
  • Don't put mulch down over leaves, trimmings, and weeds. Clear this debris out before putting down a layer of mulch.
  • Don't dump mulch onto the ground in a large pile. The goal is to put down an even layer that covers the ground.

Along with all of the above benefits of mulching, it can make your yard and garden look even more attractive during the spring and summer months. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Backyard Grilling 101

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, May 9, 2019

backyard-grilling

Have you detected the smell of burning charcoal in the air around your neighborhood? If so, that's proof that grilling season has begun! Burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and corn on the cob seem to take on extra flavor when you grill them yourself, don't you think? Today, I have some quick grilling tips you can put into practice this spring and summer.

Choosing a Grill

Are you in the market for a new grill? Some people are loyal to charcoal grills, while others won't use anything but a gas grill. Of course, both varieties have their benefits and drawbacks.

Grill Size

Both gas and charcoal grills are available in a variety of sizes. You could go with a gas grill with four or five burners or opt for a one-burner model. You could get a 22-inch kettle-style charcoal grill, or you could go all out with a 60-inch stainless steel monster. Your decision will depend on how much space you have for a grill, how many items you want to be able to cook at once, and how often you plan to grill.

Heating Time

It takes just ten minutes for a gas grill to heat up, but it takes a charcoal grill about 15 to 20 minutes to get hot enough to start cooking. So a gas grill could be more appealing if you love spontaneous cookouts!

Price

The price of a grill depends on its size, features, and brand. However, charcoal grills are generally less expensive than gas grills. You could spend less than $100 for a simple charcoal grill, while an average gas grill costs between $130 and $600.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, a charcoal grill requires less attention. You just empty the ashes after every use and brush the grate. Having a gas grill means checking the connections to make sure they're secure, checking your level of propane, and cleaning the grate.

Starting a Fire

One of the easiest ways to light your charcoal grill is with a chimney starter. Chimney starters are inexpensive and allow you to avoid exposure to the chemicals in lighter fluid.

Lighting a gas grill is a lot easier and quicker than lighting a charcoal grill. Remember to follow the proper steps listed in the grill's instructions to light it safely.

Are You in the Zone?

The two-zone cooking method allows you to have more control over the amount of heat you use to cook certain food items. Divide your grill in half, making one side the direct zone and the other the indirect zone. Items in the direct zone get a high amount of heat, while those in the indirect zone receive a low amount. If you have a charcoal grill, position most of the hot coals in the direct zone while leaving just a few in the indirect zone. On a gas grill, light the burners on one side to create your direct zone and use the other side or your warming rack as the indirect zone. If you want to sear meat or cook burgers quickly, then put them in the direct zone. But if you have a large steak or a whole fish, it should be put in the indirect zone so it will cook slowly and evenly.

Tools for Great Grilling

Look for a collection of grilling tools that includes a grilling spatula, tongs, a barbecue fork, and a basting brush. Remember to get a reliable grill brush to clean the grate after every grilling session.

Safety Tips

  • Position your grill at least ten feet away from your home.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near your grilling area in case of emergency.
  • Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your meat so it stays within a safe range. Hamburgers and other ground beef should be at 160 degrees Fahrenheit or above, while fish should be 145 degrees or more.
  • Keep a spray bottle of water close to your grill so you can water down any flames that start to get a little too high.

Get those grills going, and don't forget the ketchup! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: backyard grilling

Everything You Need To Know About Plant Hardiness Zones

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, May 2, 2019

plant-hardiness-zones

Have you ever heard of plant hardiness zones? If you're planning a garden, knowing what zone you live in can have a direct effect on the success of your garden. Learn about plant hardiness zones and how to use this valuable information to create a flourishing garden this year.

What Are Plant Hardiness Zones?

The United States is divided into 13 different plant hardiness zones. The states contained in each zone share certain climate conditions. Experienced gardeners take into account what zone they live in so they can plant flowers and vegetables with the best chance of thriving. For example, if you were to read up on planting roses, you'd see that different varieties of roses fare better in different plant hardiness zones.

How Are These Zones Created?

Each of the 13 zones of the plant hardiness map are separated by a difference of 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowest number connected with each of the 13 zones stands for the average yearly minimum temperature. Furthermore, some of the zones on the map are separated into smaller regions labeled A and B The A and B regions have a temperature difference of five degrees Fahrenheit. If you have regions A and B in the zone where you live, remember that region A is colder than region B.

The USDA Plant Hardiness Map

It's easy to use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your zone. One quick way to find your zone is to enter your ZIP code in the search bar. You'll see your state pop up as well as its zone number. Or you can scroll down the list and click on your state to get a closeup of your zone on the map. Find your county within your state and match its color to the map key provided to find the zone number. I like the color system; it makes it easy to quickly find a particular zone. Once you know what zone you live in, you can check the specifications for any plants you want to add to your garden.

Practice Using the Zone Map

One way to get comfortable with using the plant hardiness zone map is to research where certain types of flowers grow best. Do you like Gerbera daisies? If so, you'll want to know that they grow best in zones 9 to 11 because they're not cold-hardy flowers. On the other hand, peonies can be grown in zone 2 all the way to zone 9. These flowers tolerate the cold very well. Looking at different types of flowers and pinpointing their zones on the map allows you to become familiar with how this map is organized.

Changes Made to the Map Over the Years

The USDA plant hardiness map of today looks different than the one we had in 1990 due to climate change. Using the Arbor Day Foundation's interactive map, you can see the movement of the zones to account for warming temperatures.

Make sure to use the most up-to-date USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to give your garden an extra advantage this spring: Your flowers will thank you! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: plant hardiness zones

April Showers Bring May Flowers... Or Do They?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sun, Apr 28, 2019

april-showers-may-flowers

"April showers bring May flowers": That saying is thrown around a lot at this time of year. But have you ever wondered if it's really true? Today, I'm taking a closer look at this well-worn phrase to see if it's really true. Enjoy!

The Origins of the Saying

You may be surprised to know that this phrase can be traced back to a Thomas Tusser poem from 1557. The poem contains the line, "Sweet April showers do bring May flowers." It also shows up in a proverb recorded in 1886, "March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers." It's largely believed that this phrase originated in the U.K. or Ireland because of the large amount of rain those countries receive in the springtime.

Is the Saying True?

This phrase is not as much a scientific fact as it is a hopeful thing to say when dealing with the many, many drippy days in April. The growth of spring flowers depends on more than rain: In fact, temperature plays a more important role in flower growth. As temperatures rise in the springtime, this signals flowers to bloom, whether it rained a lot or a little in the month of April. A rise in temperature combined with more hours of sunlight and a reasonable amount of rain prepares plants thrive through the spring and beyond!

Where Do Flowers Bloom in May?

Lots of plants respond to the warm temperatures and pop up in the month of May. In northern states like New York, some flowers that bloom in May include dahlias, geraniums, grape hyacinth, and peonies. In southern states such as Florida, some May bloomers include oleander, gardenias, African irises, and southern magnolias. Tulips, blue flag irises, yellow irises, and daisies are just some of the flowers that bloom in May in the Midwest.

Blooming at Different Times in the Northern and Southern States

Many flowers bloom sooner in the southern states than they do in the northern ones. This is simply because of the warmer climate in the south. As an example, the French hydrangea blooms in the late spring in Florida. However, it doesn't bloom until early summer in Maine.

Super Bloom!

Maybe you've seen something on the news about a super bloom in central and southern California. A super bloom is a spreading collection, or carpeting, of wildflowers that is WAY larger than the normal amount seen during the average spring. This abundance of wildflowers is caused by a high amount of rainfall in the winter, cold nights, and cool days. The super bloom is going on right now but began many weeks ago. Orange poppies, desert lilies, sand verbena, desert sunflowers, and monkey flowers are just a few of the flowers that can be seen in the super bloom of 2019. I have a feeling the pictures and video on the news don't begin to capture the beauty of these flowers.

Interesting Facts About This Famous Saying

  • A song written by Louis Silvers entitled "April Showers" was released in 1921.
  • The position of the jet stream in Ireland and the U.K. brings on the heavy rains in April.
  • There are 41 people in the United States with the name April Showers.

I hope you put aside a few minutes each day to admire the flowers appearing all around your home this spring. Every flower deserves to be appreciated, even if it's not part of a super bloom. Thanks for reading. - Alan

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