Category Archives: Garden Tools & Tips

Hobby Greenhouses and Greenhouse Kits

Grow and Store Greenhouse

How to Choose the Best Size and Location For Your Backyard Greenhouse

Backyard gardening is experiencing a renaissance, and many home owners who would not consider such an endeavor in the past are now embracing gardening. The reasons for the increase in gardening interest are varied and include lack of variety and quality at local nurseries and garden centers, a desire to enhance the home’s “curb appeal,” and a need for fresh and pesticide-free vegetables and fruits that haven’t traveled thousands of miles to reach the neighborhood grocery store. Whatever the reason, though, gardeners are limited to the growing season, and in cooler climates, that growing season can be all too short. Increasing the annual growing season can be done easily and inexpensively with a hobby greenhouse.

The purpose of greenhouses is to allow gardeners to grow a wider variety of plants and flowers, no matter the growing zone, and to extend the growing season to three, and sometimes four, seasons. No matter what size the greenhouse, the interior of a greenhouse heats up because the sunlight shining through greenhouse windows warms everything inside faster than heat can escape. The greenhouse walls and roof keep the warm air inside, even when temperatures outside are chilly. Two of the most important considerations that must be made, though, before selecting any hobby greenhouse are size and location.

Hobby greenhouses are available in many shapes and sizes. If space is limited, a practical option would be a lean-to greenhouse or an attached greenhouse. These greenhouses are physically attached to another building, such as a house, garage, or shed. Attached greenhouses and lean-to greenhouses get less sunlight during the day simply because they are attached to another structure, so they should be placed in a location that receives the most amount of sunlight throughout the day. Lean-to greenhouses and attached greenhouses are ideal for gardeners who wish to use the greenhouse only seasonally, and who may wish only to grow a small selection of plants. Larger hobby greenhouses are free-standing and can hold more plants, flowers, and vegetables. Larger greenhouses can also support a longer growing season. Importantly, upgrading to a larger size greenhouse can be more expensive than starting with a larger greenhouse in the first place, so thinking ahead to future gardening needs is a must.

The best location for a hobby greenhouse is a level, well-drained site that gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day. If the local climate includes heavy rains, a well-drained site will help prevent drainage problems in and around the greenhouse. A drainage system may be necessary, though, if a site with good drainage is not available. Sunlight is, of course, a major consideration when locating a hobby greenhouse. To grow plants in late fall and winter, a greenhouse should receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. However, if the greenhouse will be used mainly for starting seeds and transplants in the summer, then an area with partial shade would be ideal. Partial shade will help minimize heat build-up in the afternoon. In general, greenhouses should be positioned so that the ends face east and west; this will allow for the best heat gain during the winter and minimize shadowing.

In order to ensure a successful gardening experience, the size and location of greenhouses are essential considerations for every home owner who wishes to join the growing numbers of new backyard gardeners. Careful planning before installing a hobby greenhouse will pay off when harvest time brings beautiful flowers and plants, and delicious fruits and vegetables.

Compost Bins: Composting Basics

Compost Bin

A Brief Look At How and What To Compost Using Compost Bins

Did you know that upwards of 60 percent of the waste generated by the average U.S. household could be recycled or composted? Unfortunately, only 8 percent of American waste is composted, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Did you also know that yard waste, such as grass trimmings, makes up nearly 20% of all garbage created every year? When put into landfills, organic matter like food and grass trimmings take up a significant amount of space and play a large role in the creation of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that “remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years…and is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Composting food and yard wastes is easy, especially when using compost bins. Building a compost pile on your own is certainly an option, but compost bins on the market come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and often make the process of composting much simpler. No matter how you choose to compost your organic wastes, the advantages of composting are undeniable. Composting helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gases and other air pollutants that would be generated as a result of simply throwing organic wastes into the local landfill or incinerator. Composting also saves money by providing you with free fertilizer for your garden. Finally, compost puts nutrients back into the soil, making your garden soil richer and plants healthier.

The first step in making your own compost is to select a compost bin. Compost bins are available in all shapes and sizes, so the size of your garden or yard is not an issue. Large compost bins allow avid gardeners with plenty of yard space the ability to make enough compost to last throughout the growing season. On the other hand, small compost bins can fit in the kitchen or on the balcony of a city dweller’s apartment and provide enough compost for house plants and a small herb garden. Knowing how much time you wish to spend tending to your compost pile and how much space you have to devote to a compost bin will assist you as you search for just the right compost bin.

Once you have selected your compost bin, it’s time to begin filling it with organic matter. But can you put any kind of organic matter into a compost bin? Unfortunately, no. The general recommendation is to fill your compost bin with a mixture of 50 percent “browns,” and 50 percent “greens.” The “browns” add carbon to the compost bin mix and include some of the following items:

  • Dried leaves
  • Straw
  • Chopped Cornstalks – must be shredded or chopped into very small pieces first
  • Shredded Paper
  • Shredded Cardboard
  • Paper Towels

“Greens” add nitrogen to the compost bin mix and include some of the following items:

  • Grass Clippings
  • Garden Trimmings
  • Most Kitchen Wastes
  • Fresh Hay
  • Manure from non-meat eating animals

It is not advisable to put the following types of organic matter into your compost bin unless properly prepared first:

  • Diseased plants
  • Grass clippings with chemicals
  • Hedge trimmings
  • Nut shells
  • Peat moss
  • Pine Cones
  • Pine needles
  • Sawdust
  • Sod
  • Soil
  • Weeds
  • Wood ashes
  • Wood chips

For information about how to prepare these types of organic matter for composting, visit the website of your local agricultural extension office.

Some organic matter should never find its way into compost bins. Here are the main offenders:

  • Bones
  • Cat litter
  • Charcoal and briquettes
  • Cooked food waste
  • Dairy products — (butter, cheese, mayonnaise, salad dressing, milk, yogurt, sour cream)
  • Dishwater
  • Fatty, oily, greasy foods
  • Fish scraps
  • Meat
  • Glossy, colored paper
  • Peanut butter
  • Pet wastes, human excrement
  • Sludge (biosolids)

Maintaining your compost pile depends on the type of compost bin you have selected. Some compost bins require that the pile be mixed periodically, but some compost bins require no mixing. Refer to the compost bin manufacturer’s instructions for details.

By purchasing or building your own compost bin that meets your specific needs, and by following a few simple guidelines, you can create your own money saving, earth friendly, plant loving compost.

Source: University of Illinois Extension: Composting for the Homeowner

Small Scale Gardening Offers Big Benefits

Corsica Flower Pots

Small Scale Gardening Offers Big Benefits

Container Gardens and Small Spaces Work Together

Backyard gardening is on the rise. Many homeowners who never before considered a garden are now taking up spades, shovels, and watering cans in order to reap the benefits that come with creating and tending a garden. Gardening is not only a way to create something beautiful for people and animals to enjoy, it is a means of providing the family with fresh and nutritionally superior produce. Gardening also offers many health benefits that include improved flexibility, increased strength and stamina, and decreased stress.

Gardening without a Backyard

If you live in an apartment, condo, or other small space, though, you may feel that gardening is not a possibility. How can gardening be accomplished when there is no backyard in which to plant? Apartment dwellers can still reap the benefits of gardening because it can be done on a smaller scale. Container gardening or garden boxes allows you to create beautiful landscapes in miniature that can be easily tended on a balcony, next to a sunny window, or in a window box.

How to Choose Your Garden Planters

Choosing the right garden planters for your container garden depends on the space available. First, consider the size of the area where the garden planters will be located. Then, decide which shape would work best — square, rectangle, or circle. What material is preferred — natural wood, sturdy resin, metal, or clay? Be sure that the garden planters you choose are safe for growing edible plants, if that is your goal.

Planning Your Miniature Garden

Once you have selected your garden planters, decide what you would like to grow in your new garden. Containers can support a wide variety of plants, including herbs, vegetables, flowers, small shrubs, grasses, and vines. Not all plants like to live in containers, though, so be sure to select varieties that are known to be suitable container plants. Combining different plants in a container provides visual interest: choose plants of varying colors, sizes, and textures to give your container the feel of a “bouquet.” Be sure to choose plants with the same or similar lighting and watering requirements to ensure proper care for all of the plants.

Living in a small space does not mean that you can’t enjoy the benefits of growing and tending a garden. In fact, container gardening provides some added benefits that traditional gardening cannot offer. Small scale gardening using garden planters costs less and requires less maintenance than larger outdoor gardens, so not only can you enjoy the health benefits of gardening, you can also enjoy the money and time saved in the process.

Three Solutions to Common Gardening Frustrations

Rectangle Planter Box


Planter Boxes, Garden Tool Storage, and Potting Benches Solve Multiple Problems

Gardening is an enjoyable past time for millions of people, but for many, it can present challenges and hassles not to mention gardening frustrations. People who have issues with mobility, space limitations, or invasions by local wildlife may find gardening a frustrating experience. With the addition of a few garden helpers, though, many of these challenges can be solved.

Raised Planter Boxes

Raised planter boxes, which are available in square or rectangle shapes, are an easy way to keep plants and veggies contained, but they also offer a number of other advantages. Planter boxes raised on sturdy legs are ideal for gardeners who may have difficulty bending down and working in garden beds on the ground. Raised planter boxes are also appealing to gardeners who are tired of losing out to local rabbits and other critters. They keep tender plants and veggies out of reach. And, for homeowners who lack yard space for planting a garden, planter boxes give them the opportunity to keep a garden on the patio or deck.

Garden Tool Storage

Hoes, rakes, shovels, and other garden tools can get out of hand easily causing gardening frustrations. Keeping them neat and tidy in a convenient place can be a challenge, even when a shed is available. A sturdy, wooden garden tool holder makes an ideal garden tool storage solution. With casters underneath and a dedicated slot for each individual tool, a garden tool holder is easy to move where it’s needed, and makes organizing tools a snap.

Potting Bench

Many gardeners find that their potting supplies get shoved into a corner of the garage or shed, making them difficult to retrieve when it’s time to pot or re-pot plants. Then, finding an appropriate place to do this work can be a challenge. Some gardeners choose to do their potting on a deck or patio, others do it in the garage or in the yard. None of these locations is conducive to efficient work, and the mess created is generally more than expected. A potting bench is the best solution for this problem. The potting bench gives gardeners space to organize potting supplies, and it provides a dedicated space for potting. Potting benches come in many shapes and sizes, but most offer storage shelves, garden tool storage hooks, and ample counter space for working with plants and their pots. A potting bench can be placed in the shed, in a greenhouse, or under the overhang on a deck or patio.

Gardening is an appealing activity for so many reasons: it’s good exercise; it allows gardeners to express their creativity; and it gives people an opportunity to grow their own healthy and delicious foods. Gardening can feel like a chore, though, when completing basic tasks is more difficult than necessary. Thanks to garden helpers like raised planter boxes, garden tool storage holders, and potting benches, many of the difficulties associated with gardening can be alleviated, if not eliminated.

Storage Shed Kits Ensure Easy Installation

Storage Shed Kit
Building your own storage shed can be a tedious and tiresome project. You must possess great carpentry skills to get the job done right. On the other hand, buying a fully assembled, pre-fab shed can be very expensive and cost prohibitive for most home owners. Looking for a great compromise? Use one of our cedar storage shed kits. They come precut and with complete instructions. Several options are even available in a panelized version that is partially pre-assembled, making construction even easier. You get everything for the walls, floors, roof, and any accessories, such as windows, planters, doors, etc. You will love the convenience and ease that our kits offer. Get all of your lawn, garden, and pool equipment neat and organized or construct one as a playhouse for your kids!