How-to Care for Muscovy Ducks

George the Muscovy Duck

George the Muscovy Duck

Self-sufficiency is something we could all try our hand at, it ensures a person’s family will get the very best organic foods, handmade clothing and even the greatest education to be had. Muscovy ducks seem to fit the homesteaders’ bill just right; they provide lean and delicious meat, soft down, perfect insect control along with nearly perfect weed control. A person can have it all, all in the form of a good sized, quiet and easy to care for duck, the wonderful Muscovy.

Getting Started With Muscovy Ducks

Unlike many forms of livestock, Muscovy ducks can just about take care of themselves. They are efficient foragers, excellent broody mothers and have fantastic flying and perching capabilities. They are also not prone to trust potential predators; they will take flight, or stop and defend their offspring viciously. Anyone who has seen the claws on a Muscovy duck can vouch for the possibility of bloody wounds if the animals are not handled correctly or feel very threatened. They also have very powerful wings and a hooked bill to add to their arsenal. This may sound scary but it is a good thing; Muscovy ducks have retained their wild instincts, and this makes them very successful in the natural world. If they lay a fertile egg, you can just about bet that egg will hatch and many of the ducklings will survive. Muscovy ducks are not mean without cause; a “good” Muscovy will not attack unprovoked, as they would rather mind their own business of eating pests as opposed to a bloody battle.

Read More … How to care for Muscovy Ducks


Growing Stevia Rebaudiana

Stevia Bloom

Stevia Bloom

The stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) has a long history of use as a natural, no calorie sweetener. Read More about Stevia Plants …Stevia Care

Just as with many of my Frugal Gardening Momma articles, more in depth work will be found in my upcoming book. Keep a check on my site for updates!

The stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) has a long history of use as a natural, no calorie sweetener. Stevia is native to the lands of North and South America most notably, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. With a genus of roughly 240 species, the more common S. rebaudiana is one species in a large plant family.

Its growing requirements are simple as it is an undemanding plant that is not often attacked by pests or diseases. The leaves, stems, roots and blossoms of the stevia plant can be used as sugar substitutes—though the parts of the leaf between each vein is thought to be superior as a sweetener with little to no aftertaste.

Place stevia in full sun with well-drained soils that contain a lot of organic matter. The key is to keep the soil moist until the plant is well established. Once established, stevia is drought tolerant–though it grows better if given plenty of water.

Fertilize stevia plants with organic foods such as worm castings, tea and coffee grounds, cow and chicken manure, and compost teas. Avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers whenever possible. Pinch the growing tips of each branch to promote a bushier habit and more sweet-tasting leaves. USDA zone 11—or 32 degrees fahrenheit.

Natural Garden Ideas

A natural garden will usually combine plants native to your area. Non-native plants will look like they belong if colors and textures match the surrounding, native flora. A natural garden forgoes the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. These plans offer wildlife sustenance and shelter in such a manner with no obvious formal lines and detail. Once established, natural gardens should remain easy to care for.

Bloody Cranesbill Geranium and Trillium

Hummingbird Garden

Providing perches of varying heights will allow dominate birds to choose their favorite spot for preening, sunning and checking out their territory. Dominant hummingbirds are aggressive, pushing meeker birds away from feeders and watering stations. Provide several feeding stations hidden from one another so subordinate birds can feed unbothered by the more aggressive dominates. Add red accents and plants to attract hummingbirds to the area. Provide a mixture of nectar rich plants to keep them coming back. Plants suitable for hummingbird gardens include trumpet vine, columbine, larkspur, jasmine, soapwort and sweet peas. Humming birds require protein, especially during the breeding season. In the wild, they catch small insects to supply this need. Set out dishes of rotting banana and other fruit to attract fruit flies. Shallow dishes with water provide a place for the birds to bathe and condition their feathers.

Read More …Natural Garden Ideas

How to Grow Peonies

Peonies are one of the most popular plants used in permanent landscapes. These ancient plants offer a wide array of colors and forms in addition to their highly scented blossoms. For every gardener there is a peony to love.

Pink Peonies:

Where and How to Plant Peonies

Peonies do best planted in full sun with rich loamy well draining soil. In early fall plant each division around 18 inches deep in a hole 18 inches wide. Before placing the peonies in their holes, add plenty of organic matter, ½ cup bone meal, and a good slow release fertilizer geared towards blooming plants to the holes. Plant each division with the growing tips 2-3 inches below the surface. If peonies are planted too deeply they will fail to bloom.

The better the planting hole is to begin with the better off these long living perennials will hold up. A good, barky compost mixture that can break down slowly over time would be especially suited for peonies. When planted, mulch each plant and water in well.

Read More … How to Grow Peonies: Growing and Caring for Paeonia

Photos from My Gardens 2010

Here are a few photographs from my gardens this year. Everything is starting to come together!

Ideas for Landscaping Acreage

Having acreage presents nearly as many problems as it does gardening opportunities. Careful planning like walking through your property during every season prevents gardening failure for this large undertaking. This will allow you to see any seasonal problems that could arise. Potential problems include summer dry sites that remain wet during the winter and spring, heavy pest animal activity or even pollution from roads such as salt spray in the winter. After your evaluation is over, you may decide to turn a portion of your land into something for charity. Even a little used corner of land can help a lot of people or animals.

Landscaping Acreage Ideas

Community Garden

Opening your land to other people brings with it the risk of lawsuits. It is a good idea to contact an attorney and discuss potential problems before proceeding further. Providing this service to the community brings people together while feeding the masses food they have all helped to grow. If having strangers on your land is more than you are ready for try donating the food you grow to churches, homeless shelters, and food kitchens. If you plant heirloom vegetables, fruits and flowers, save the seeds for future use. They can also be given or traded to other community gardens.

Animal Rescue

For those who have a big heart and love animals, an animal rescue is another idea for acreage. Such causes may require permits so thorough legal research is suggested. Rescue work is costly when food, medications and other factors as addressed. After deciding on the animals you wish to rescue, it is a good idea to set aside a part of your land for providing food for them. This in itself will cut rescue costs. If birds are being helped you can grow most, if not all of their food yourself through grasses, flowers and fruit and nut trees. For those with strong stomachs and that have chosen to save carnivores, you can raise your own meat in the form of fish, chicken and even goats. If properly planned a small portion of acreage can feed several hungry mouths. Building a pest proof storage barn will help to ensure seed and grain harvests are good throughout the winter. Freeze meat animals slaughtered during the warm parts of the year.

Animal Rescue Food Charity

If rescuing animals is too involved for your tastes, you can still contribute by growing foods for other charities. The cost of keeping one elephant is around one thousand dollars a month. Even small donations of fruit and vegetables are helpful to charity owners. If you have enough land, you can grow enough variety to feed several species a month.

How to Grow Waterlilies

A simple to follow tutorial on the care and culture of waterlilies (Nymphaea).

Water Lily White

Waterlilies are a sun loving aquatic plant; to ensure good bloom set and continuing flushes of flowers make certain each plant receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Water lily roots prefer nutrient rich clay based soils in order for the plants to grow to their maximum beauty.

A good fertilizer for blooming aquatic plants should then be applied as per label instructions. Fertilizer tablets buried beneath the soil in the water lily pot will help prevent algae blooms from the excess nitrogen run off from some liquid fertilizers. As always, make sure the fertilizers chosen are fish safe before using.

Read More …How to Grow Waterlilies: Growing and Care of Nymphaea

How to Clean, Pack and Ship Daylilies

Online plant trading is fast gaining popularity; this article shows one way to properly ready your day lilies for shipping and trade.

Daylily Double Orange

Day lilies are one of the easiest plants to ship; the fact that they are super hardy makes them perfect candidates to sell or trade through the mail. In the following paragraphs you will learn how to properly clean, trim, and package day lilies.

Materials Needed to Package and Ship Day Lilies

* Access to a working water hose; this way you can spray all the dirt off the roots.

* Clean, sharp scissors or shears for trimming roots and leaves

* Peat moss, silica crystals or some other water retentive packing material

* Sturdy packing box

* Brown packing paper (paper grocery bags are fine)

Plastic is acceptable as long as holes are supplied so the plants can breathe and the entire plant is not wrapped.

Read More …How to Clean, Pack and Ship Daylilies: A Proper Method to Prepare and Send Daylilies for Sale or Trade

How to Grow Hardy Hibiscus

Out of the three types of hibiscus that gardeners normally choose for their landscaping, the hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) has gained popularity for its ability to stand colder temperatures while offering a tropical feel to more northern gardening.

Hardy Hibiscus

With blooms measuring up to the size of dinner plates it is little wonder why hibiscus enthralls its followers so deeply. This tropical looking plant is like the pied piper of the flower world and a real show-stopper at that.

The Right Soil for Hardy Hibiscus

Hardy hibiscus requires well-drained soil and plenty of moisture during its active growing season. Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball and backfill with rich organic compost. Hibiscuses are heavy feeders and require plenty of food while growing to ensure they have ample reserves for this and next year’s blooms. A fertilizer of 150-200ppm Nitrogen will help the plants grow vigorously and ensure good bloom set.

Read More …How to Grow Hardy Hibiscus: Growing Hibiscus Acetosella

How to Make a Bog Garden

Creating a gorgeous oasis in a mud puddle is an easy task if planned out accordingly. Bog gardens can be as simple as a small mud filled pit to as extravagant as a creation with waterfalls and koi ponds attached. Bog gardens can be useful in addition to being beautiful; they can turn a smelly wet area into a beautiful blooming garden.

Future Bog Garden?

Finding and Preparing a Site for a Bog Garden

If an area that stays consistently wet can be located, this would be a good place to add a bog garden. The amount of sun the garden needs depends on the types of plants one chooses to incorporate. Generally, blooming plants like more sun than foliage plants; make sure to check the plants’ growing conditions before locating a spot for the bog garden.

Read More …How to Make a Bog Garden: Creating a Flowerbed for Marginal and Aquatic Plants

« Older entries