March, 2009

Think Spring!

"Spring Clean-Up Conditioning Guidelines"

Along with the pleasure that every gardener experiences as the tulips pop up in the Spring, come the hours spent preparing the yard and garden after a long winter. This can be strenuous work involving physical exertion and repetitive movements using muscles that may not have been used since last year's clean up.

Perform the following exercises 2 – 3 days per week to strengthen the large, superficial muscles that move the body, and also the smaller, intrinsic muscles that help stabilize the body during movement.

  • Warm up for five to 10 minutes (see Gardening Warm-up)
  • Complete up to 3 sets of 12 repetitions for each exercise
  • Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets
  • Exhale on exertion
  • Perform the exercises slowly and keep control (imagine that you are balancing a book on your head during exercises)
  • Hold proper posture while strengthening (hold your shoulders and chin back, naval in and abdominals contracting)
  • Stretch for 15 minutes after strength training (see Post-Gardening Stretches)

Grow an Edible Garden

Eat Your Landscaping - Now there's another way to enjoy your beautiful landscaping. Help yourself to handfuls of blueberries. Pick some strawberries from your groundcover for breakfast. Go ahead and step on the thyme; you'll have a fragrant walk. You can grow all sorts of delicious fruits, herbs, and vegetables that double as landscaping showpieces. Here are some ideas that might work for your garden.

Want a Tasty Hedge? Plant a Gooseberry Bush - Hedges and tasty fruit: what a combination. Gooseberry bushes can grow up to 3 feet high and six feet wide. True, they're not evergreen like boxwoods, but then, boxwoods don't produce fruit. Use the fruit when you want to make an extra-delicious pie.

Get Groundcover with Flavor: Grow Strawberries or Herbs - You tree needs some groundcover around it. Your tummy craves some delicious fruit. Strawberries are the answer. They choke out weeds, tolerate a wide array of conditions, and taste delicious. If you have a stone walkway, try planting thyme and other low-growing herbs in the cracks. You'll keep out weeds, and have a fragrant walk when you step on some. And as you know, there's nothing like cooking with fresh herbs.

Plant Blueberry Bushes - Tear out that burning bush and put in a blueberry bush instead. Blueberries are delicious and have all sorts of health benefits. Also, the bushes are lovely and can fit into many landscape designs. Just be sure to amend your soil to make it acidic. Just work some coffee grounds or pine needles into your soil, or feed with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Plant Food.

Put Some Red Jewels in Your Landscaping - If you like unusual foliage to contrast your flowers, grow some that you can eat. Varieties of Red Jewel cabbage can be stunners. Some have dark leaves, others have remarkable texture. Just put one wherever you have a little space that calls out for something beautiful and delicious.

Use Your Imagination - There are all sorts of plants that taste delicious and look beautiful. Grow bee balm for beauty and delicious tea. Have you ever tasted day lilies? How about dandelion salad? If you have any unusual ideas for edible landscaping, why not share them with us? Recipes are welcome, too.