Category: Gardens

Discover an Unexpected Treasure: TLC Country Floral

No Comments

Nestled on the Nebraska Prairie between Fremont and Hooper is an unexpected treasure.

With a plan in mind, Ken and Sue Fase purchased their acreage in 2004 and set to work on their dream. As owners of TLC Country Floral the Fase’s grow, harvest and dry flowers from gardens located throughout their property. Sue, a second generation florist and horticulturist uses the preserved blooms to create unusual and unique floral designs which are sold in their shop located on the property.

A gardener at heart, Sue knew she wanted to capitalize on the beautiful mature trees on their acreage. Rather than creating one large garden space she designed numerous gardens throughout the 5½ acre property.

A potting shed, rose garden, gazebo, cutting garden and granite patio are among the features of the landscape. The Fase’s have planted over 65 additional trees and specimen shrubs. Each year over 120 container gardens are planted to add seasonal color.

Sue shares a love of unusual plants with her sister, Sally Bronson, and each year they search for unique plants to share with people visiting the shop and gardens.

The addition of a greenhouse in the fall of 2008 has allowed the Fase’s to expand their offering of unusual plants to their customers. Sue’s parents, Jim and Sue Spitalnick, are recently retired from the greenhouse business and assist in the shop and greenhouse.

Sue uses many processes to dry flowers including air drying and freeze drying.

The air drying method of preservation has been popular since the Victorian Era. Flowers such as Statice Sinuata and Gomphrena are harvested while fresh and hung in a temperature controlled environment to dry naturally. Air dried flowers adorn the ceiling at TLC Country Floral.

The freeze dry method of preservation requires specialized equipment. Flowers are harvested at their peak, pre-treated and frozen. The freeze drying chamber is set to 30 degrees below zero; the flowers are quickly inserted and placed under a vacuum. As the temperature is raised, the flowers slowly thaw and the vacuum removes the moisture from the chamber. Freeze drying perfectly preserves a bloom retaining the shape, color and sometimes even the fragrance of the flower. When freeze dried, vegetables such as Chile Peppers and Miniature Pumpkins look as though they have been freshly picked from the garden.

Some flowers are preserved in a SandVac machine. The SandVac preserves flowers with a material similar to Silica Gel. The flowers are pre-treated, buried in the material and placed into the machine under a vacuum. The Sandvac method of preservation works well for flowers such as Sunflowers, Gerbera Daisies and Daylilies.

Designs at TLC Country Floral reflect today’s modern styles and colors. They are artfully displayed among vintage treasures, furniture and garden art. The natural designs are unified with today’s green consciousness.

TLC Country Floral is open during their Spring and Fall Open Houses or by appointment. The Spring Open House will be held May 1, 2 and 3. Shop and garden tours are available by appointment during the growing season. For more information contact Sue Fase at (402) 654-2058 or by email at tlccountryfloral@yahoo.com.

Categories: Gardens

Buying the Right Tools for your Garden

No Comments

If you are a professional gardener, you’d be looking for the best quality tools?

You know you would. Budget wouldn’t be the main factor as your tools would help you to make a living. So why compromise just because you are a keen amateur?

On the other hand, if you are a gardener; a once a year type, you may want to go ahead with less expensive tools. These days there are a proliferation of tools available to make your gardening life easier. Don’t restrict yourself just the traditional items. Look at what’s available. Amazon is a great source to actually buy these tools, but it can be a little overwhelming. To help narrow down to the better options, it is often best to use one of the many review sites, such as Garden Eaze, which provides quality reviews of gardening tools available on Amazon.

Presently, there are a lot of companies which manufacture garden tools. As a result, tools are less robust as the companies needs to satisfy stockholders. Most companies use plastic handles, cheaper grade of wood, thinner steel and so on. All these result in poor quality garden tools, but more dividends for stockholders. Hence, it is important to ask yourself, what do you know about buying these tools? It is also important to ask yourself about how to make sure that you buy the best in each category.

Design of the Tools

The first thing you need to notice is the design. The best kind of tools has refined designs which are more users friendly. A little bend or a less angle can make a big difference while using garden tools. It is also important to check the thickness of steel. It should be just heavy enough to serve its purpose. However, it should not be very heavy and tire the user. There are many different types of tools in the market according to size and weight. It is important to define your needs and requirements so that you can buy one accordingly.

Type of Metal Used

Attachment of Handle

It is also important to consider the kind of metal which has been used to manufacture the tool. Thin steel will usually mean poor quality. Usually, thin steel comes from a large roll which is cut to manufacture more number of tools from the same roll. This is done to lower production costs. On the other hand, there are many manufacturers which experiment with different formulas to ensure more durable and strong steel. Durability and strength are one of the most important to factors to consider.

Interestingly, attachment of handle also plays a very crucial role to make sure that it is high quality. This is even more important for spades and forks. Most of the poor quality tools have thin steel, which is only riveted and wrapped around the handle. Such handles may allow you to work fast, but they are not at all strong. Such handles get broken very easily.

Let’s take a look at a good example from our friends over at Garden Eaze. The tree lopper is a specialist tool for pruning upper branches of overgrown trees. When you use them you will obviously be reaching up high and the quality of the handle will be critical.

Socket or Strapped Connection

The best kind of garden tools has a strapped connection or socket. Strapped connection is believed to be the strongest. Straps and head are only one piece of steel. Moreover, straps usually extend up to the riveted handle. Socket attachment is also as strong as a strapped connection. In this connection too, head and socket are one piece of steel. Moreover, the handle is fastened into the socket.

Warranty Period

Last but not the least, it is very important to ask yourself, ‘what is the warranty on this thing?’ There are many good companies which offer a lifetime warranty. It is always better to go with a company which provides a good warranty period.

These were only some of the factors which will determine your choice while choosing garden tools. There are also other factors and you should do a thorough research before you think about buying your tools.

Categories: Gardens

How To Build Your Own Raised Bed Planter

No Comments

When I look through the home and garden magazines, or really any home improvement magazine, the homes seem to all have large expansive yards with plenty of room for everything that you could dream of doing to make it more comfortable for entertaining and living.

When I look at my backyard, it is not so expansive and I am sure that many people fall into that category.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy getting out there and getting our hands dirty, it just means that we have to be more conscious of what kind of space we have to work with.  A great way to use some of this space more efficiently is to have a raised garden bed.  It is also a good way to plant without having to do as much work with tilling each year.

You can control the growth of the plants as well, without worrying about them overtaking your yard.  But for those of us that are handier in the garden and around plants than with power tools, building the raised garden bed may be a bit intimidating.  It shouldn’t be, it really is a DIY project that most anybody could attempt and complete.

You will need some tools. Get the best you can afford. If you don’t know what tools are the best then use a review site (hometoolhelper.com for example).

And building it on your own is so much more satisfying than buying a ready made one at the store.  And it is usually a little less expensive.  Here are some simple steps to follow.

Location

Like any other endeavor, location is a very important aspect of starting your raised garden bed.  Look for the flattest spot possible.  This way you do not have to dig as much to level out the ground.  You are going to want to consider how tall to build the planter as well, knowing that the taller it is, the more dirt you will need to fill it in.  1 to 2 feet is usually sufficient.  Also, if you are building more than one planter or placing the planter near another object, give yourself enough room to maneuver through the walkway and perhaps to use a wheelbarrow or even a lawnmower.

Level the Ground

Next you will want to level the ground that you picked out.  You will want to remove the grass and any weeds, and you want the ground to be as level as possible so that the planter is level.  If you anticipate poor drainage, dig a little deeper and put in a layer or coarse stone or gravel.  If you really have a drainage problem, you can always install perforated drainage pipes under the gravel.  You will then want to place a layer of landscape fabric before filling with fresh soil.  Another good idea is to put some sort of metal meshing down to keep out the gophers and moles.  Think about all of that fresh soil with tempting vegetable roots just calling to the animals.

Build the Sides

The third major step is to build the sides of the planter.  Using treated outdoor lumber, you will want to build all four sides separately and then connect them in place.  This is the part that might scare some people off, but you can buy pre-cut lengths of 2x material at the home improvement store. 

This is where the right tools will be essential. Even if it just a ratcheting screwdriver, get the right one.

It is 1 ¾ inches thick and depending on how tall you want your planter; you can use material that is 6, 8, 10 or 12 inches wide.  You just stack two lengthwise edge to edge and take some other short pieces of lumber and fasten to both pieces in order to hold it together.

Do this with all four sides and then you just connect the corners with screws using a cordless drill.  Then you take some stakes and drive them down at the corners, you can either do this on the inside or the outside of the corners to hold them in place and attach to the planter using screws again.

Last, just attach a piece of lumber around the top edge lying flat so that you will have a place to set tools and sit down while working. Depending on how large the planter is, you may want to put support stakes in the middle of each side as well.

Once the bed is built, you can stain or paint is before filling it in to help make it even more weather proof and beautiful.   After filling it in with soil, all you have to do is decide what you want to plant.

Are you going to plant flowers or vegetables so that you have fresh produce whenever you want?  Sure, it’s a little bit of work, but this is the type of project that gives returns long after the work is done and while you are enjoying fresh vegetables that you grew with your own two hands, you can be proud of what you built to get you there.

Categories: Gardens Green Buildings

DIY Landscaping – Safety First!

No Comments

Spring and summer are popular and busy seasons for landscaping.  After being forced indoors for the winter, many gardening enthusiasts jump at the chance to do yard work, gardening and landscaping.  Professional landscaping, although attractive to look at, can be costly.  DIY landscaping has become more popular as many people escape their busy “9-5 work week” by planting flowers, mowing the lawn, trimming shrubs, and building stone walls, paths and ponds.

Building your own backyard sanctuary can have many mental benefits and can provide a good physical workout, but it is always important to be safe while landscaping. The same type of injuries and accidents can take place in the home as on a work site.  In fact, hobbyists or beginners may be more at risk for accidents as they may have less experience with equipment and/or safety regulations.

Common Injuries And Accidents In Landscaping

industrial concept with tools and equipment, selective focus on nearest

Landscaping can be a fulfilling job with pleasing results, but it can also be a dangerous occupation or hobby if proper safety precautions are not taken.  Professional landscapers are at risk for various work-related injuries and accidents every day.  A person, fixing up their yard in the spring, is at risk of similar injuries.  Home accidents and construction accidents can be very similar in nature.  The most common accidents that occur in a landscaping setting include, but are not limited to:

  • Cuts and amputations due to tools, saws, wood chippers, lawn mowers
  • Electric shock due to contact with high wires, buried cables, etc.
  • Heat and cold stress (i.e. Heat stroke)
  • Sprains and strains in back, wrist, ankles from improper lifting, pushing physical limitation
  • Hearing or vision damage due to improper eye or ear wear
  • Chemical burns/inhalation from pesticides and other chemicals
  • Slips, trips and falls

Safety Tips

The potential dangers of a landscaping job should not deter someone from enjoying it, but being aware of the dangers and following a few safety tips will greatly improve the chances of an error free landscaping job.  Safety Tips vary from what clothing to wear to proper equipment usage and even to what to do if you find an animal.  Here are some safety tips that would be most helpful to DIY landscapers:

Wear the right clothing for the job:

Depending on the task, it’s best to wear light, well-fitted clothing to protect you from debris, sun, and other irritants

Wear Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and Stay Hydrated

Even on a “perfect” day, it’s easy to become overcome by the sun and get dehydrated

Use the right tool for the job

Don’t skimp on this area. There are plenty of places to get good advice on tools. Before using, make sure it works and is sharpened, etc.

Stand and work in ergonomic positions.

Avoid awkward postures and  poor lifting stances

Working with others

When working with others, make sure you know where they are at ALL times to avoid a multi-person accident

Use common sense when using tools, ladders, and other implements: For example, if you have not used a piece of machinery (like a rented tiller) make sure you know how it works.  When using a ladder, use the proper size and do not over reach.

DIY Landscaping: Don’t Become another Accident Statistic

Given the right tools, time, energy and precautions, a DIY landscaper can turn their yard into a one-of-a-kind place of beauty.  You don’t need to visit a park or arboretum to appreciate and admire well-crafted landscaping.   Do It Yourself!

Categories: Gardens