Tag Archives: Jul

Lyme Disease

For those of us who work and play outdoors in deer tick-infested areas, Lyme disease is a reality. If caught early, the disease is usually cured with antibiotics. If not detected and treated early, Lyme disease can be a debilitating condition that may linger for months or years.

Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of a deer tick. The tick becomes infected with the disease by biting an animal that is carrying the bacteria. The main culprits in our area are the white-tailed deer and white-footed mouse. Not every deer tick is a carrier of Lyme disease but it is wise to always take precautions to prevent potential infections.

Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Wearing light-colored clothes to help spot and identify deer ticks before they attach to spread the infection.
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants to minimize exposed skin that can attract deer ticks. Tuck your pants into your boots or socks. Include a hat for added protection.
  • Spraying exposed skin with a product that contains at least 20 percent DEET and spraying clothing, and all other cloth gear, with a product containing Permethrin. Always follow the product label when applying repellents.
  • Removing clothing and immediately laundering it when coming back indoors. Dry clothing at a high temperature for at least 30 minutes, since ticks are sensitive to dryness and will die quickly without appropriate moisture.
  • Showering immediately and thoroughly after being in a tick-prone area. Inspect all skin surfaces, especially hard-to-see areas like behind the knees, the back of the neck and in arm pits. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small and therefore hard to see. Ticks must be attached for at least 18 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease.
  • Protecting pets from ticks with appropriate collars, drops, powders or dips, and inspecting pets’ fur regularly for ticks or other pests.

Protect your yard by:

  • Mowing the grass regularly. Ticks thrive in longer grasses with moist soils, but are not as abundant in groomed areas.
  • Keeping leaves raked and keeping the yard free of refuse that can create moist patches in the soil where ticks will thrive.
  • Creating a protective barrier, at least 3-4 feet wide of mulch or stone, between yard and wooded area. Ticks are not easily able to cross these open areas.
  • Stacking wood neatly in a dry area where it is less likely to harbor a tick infestation.
  • Spraying your yard with a tick control product like bifenthin. Always follow the product label when applying pesticides.
  • Taking steps to discourage deer and mice in your yard, such as choosing deer-resistant plants and using traps responsibly to eliminate rodents.

By taking appropriate precautions to protect you, your family and your yard, you can minimize any risk of contracting Lyme disease.

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Eliminate Water Garden Algae

During the summer months you can eliminate algae easily, effectively, naturally and attractively with the simple addition of appropriate pond plants to your water garden. Three factors contribute to excess algae growth: sunlight, nutrients and low oxygen. While it may be impossible to eliminate every speck of algae – it is still part of your aquatic ecosystem, after all – when you work to control those factors, you also control and minimize algae without adversely affecting your water garden.

Limit Sunlight

Algae needs abundant sunlight to reproduce, and sunlight also raises the water temperature which helps algae grow even more quickly. In shady, cooler ponds and water gardens, however, much less algae is able to grow. You can easily reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the water surface in your garden by 40-60 percent by adding floaters that will cover the surface and provide shade. Top water garden floaters include water hyacinths and water lettuce, both of which successfully reduce excessive algae growth. For the best results, cover 50 percent or more of the water’s surface area with floating plants.

Reduce Nutrients

Because algae can grow so rapidly, it requires abundant nutrients to reproduce. If you remove those nutrients, there will be less nourishment available to sustain algae growth. Submerged plants, such as water lilies and lotus, compete with algae for limited available nutrients, essentially starving the algae to death, while at the same time adding their own beauty to your backyard pond or water garden. If fish are part of your container garden or pond, be sure you are not overfeeding them, since excess, uneaten food quickly decays into vital nutrients algae can use as well. Similarly, prune and clean out any decaying plant foliage so it does not become the nutrients algae needs.

Increase Oxygen

Algae thrives in stagnant water, and abundant oxygen is toxic to these simple growths. Oxygenating plants like milfoil and hornwort should be included in your plant choices to increase the oxygen in your water garden and make it less suitable for algae. More oxygen will also be healthier for any fish, frogs or toads that might call your water garden home, and many other water garden plants will also thrive with better oxygen in the water.

Stop in and see our extensive collection of water garden plants and supplies. Our well-informed staff will assist you in making the best choices for your water garden to help reduce algae growth and keep your water garden or pond clear and sparkling.

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Less Pain, More Gain: Ergonomics in the Garden

Merriam-Webster defines ergonomics as: An applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely. Experts in ergonomics strive to design and produce items that better match the capabilities, limitations and needs of the people who use them. The result is a safer product that causes less fatigue and stress on the body, while still allowing you to perform the same functions as with regular tools or items.

How Gardening Can Hurt Your Body

Repetitive gardening activities can put you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, and can exacerbate other conditions such as arthritis, sciatica and other aches and pains. Poor movement or sudden strains can pull muscles or pinch nerves, which can lead to days or weeks of recovery, doctor appointments, tests, medications and other treatments. Even worse movements could lead to more severe injuries, falls or sprains which could cause you to miss out on a gardening season altogether. Listen to your body – if a movement hurts, change what you are doing and the tools you are using.

Ergonomic Garden Tools

Before purchasing the tools required to perform your garden chores it is best to choose those that fit the job – weeding, pruning, digging, trimming, harvesting, raking, etc. It is equally important, however, that the tools fit you as well – your size, your grip, your posture and your preferences.

Ergonomic tools will help you accomplish different garden tasks with greater efficiency and reduced effort, force, bending, leaning or twisting. With the correct tools you will be able to dig, trim and cut more, in less time, with less effort and more gardening enjoyment. Some ergonomic tools may look no different than the familiar tools you’ve been using for years, but they may be made of different materials to be lighter or stronger. There may be angle or length changes in handles to allow for easier use, or handles may be cushioned to provide firmer grips without causing pain or fatigue. Some tools, such as portable stools or combined tools that include buckets as well as a seat or kneeling pad, help make gardening chores more accessible and comfortable as well.

Ask one of our employees for their assistance in making your garden equipment choices. We carry a wide selection of ergonomic garden tools and are happy to help you choose the right device, size and style for you to accomplish your gardening chores safely and pain free.

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Summer Watering Tips

As the days heat up, watering can become a dreaded garden chore and too many gardeners use wasteful techniques that use plenty of water but don’t give their plants the moisture they really need. Make watering plants easier and more efficient with the proper practices and tools…

  • Mulches not only make plantings look more attractive, but their most important functions are to help retain soil moisture and minimize weeds, which would also usurp moisture from your plants. Mulch around plants to a depth of 2-4 inches, refreshing mulch as needed to maintain that depth and attractiveness.
  • Watering cans and small containers work great for spot watering plants with different watering needs by hand. You don’t always need to get out a hose or sprinkler to get the watering done.
  • Check to make sure that you have the proper length hose(s) to reach every corner of your garden. Take into account any obstacles in the way, and be sure you aren’t dragging the hose over any delicate plantings to reach more distant dry spots.
  • Add a water wand to the hose to get the water where it’s most needed – the base of the plants – without needing to bend over repeatedly, which can cause back strain.
  • The best time to water is during the early morning hours of a sunny day. This will allow plants to absorb more water before it evaporates when temperatures rise, but won’t leave water to sit on plants overnight when mold can develop.
  • Always water plants and container gardens thoroughly and deeply to encourage deeper, more drought-tolerant root systems. It is better to water less frequently but more deeply rather than more often but with less water.
  • In the landscape, a good rule of thumb is to provide an inch of water per week minimum. Keep track of precipitation with a rain gauge to avoid wasting water by overwatering when Mother Nature does the job.
  • New individual plants that are set out, direct sown seed beds, sodding, etc. often require daily care, including watering, until established. Check moisture levels carefully during this period so the plants are well cared for.
  • Use soaker hoses to provide slow drip watering. This allows plants to absorb water easily without wasting water by evaporating from foliage or spraying into the air. Soaker hoses can even be layered beneath mulch to preserve as much moisture as possible.
  • Pay extra attention to plants in containers and hanging baskets as they tend to dry out faster and with greater frequency. These plantings will likely need to be watered daily or even multiple times a day during heat waves.
  • Place Tree Gators, a drip irrigation bag, on newly planted trees for slow, steady watering that will soak down to the root system without draining away along the surface of the soil.

If you’ll be away on an extended vacation, or even just for a few days, make arrangements with a trusted friend or neighbor to “plant sit” while you are gone. There’s nothing worse than worrying about your garden while you’re away – except coming home to crisp plants that haven’t been watered properly!

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