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Saturday, September 27, 2014

When Can I Expect the First Frost?

Weather conditions play an important role in the success or devastation of a garden. In order to assure that your plants are not damaged by frost, you need to learn about the expected frost dates in your area. There are several ways to acquire this information.

You can utilize the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to find out the expected frost dates for your area. Simply by entering your zip code, you can obtain the information you need.

Some websites have a map that indicates the expected frost dates for various regions. This can be used as a general guide, but you should be aware that an early frost could occur prior to the dates they have listed for your area.

Many gardeners turn to the almanac for planting, growing, harvesting and weather related information. Almanacs are useful as a general guide, but you should also check resources that are more specific to your location.

Your local weather forecaster can be one of your best resources for determining when to expect the first frost. The information they provide is specific to your area, but there can still be a variation in precisely which areas get frost. The elevation of your property is a factor in whether or not you will have frost.

If you are a new gardener, one of your ideal resources is not currently available to you, but it can be in future years. If you keep a garden journal listing important dates such as the date of the first and last frost each year, you will have a more accurate frost date than you can obtain from any other resource.

Because nature is never totally predictable, you should always be prepared for an early frost and take measures to protect your plants.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Make an Outdoor Patio Inviting Through the Cooler Seasons

When living in an area with cold weather, a person will have a hard time enjoying his or her patio. While true, with a little luck and some hard work, one can enjoy their outdoor patio the entire year. With this in mind, here are three tips to make a patio inviting through the cooler seasons.

The right furniture: Without a doubt, when putting chairs or sofas outside, one can enjoy the day or cool evening even more. Think about it, when sitting down, do most people prefer a warm cushion or a plastic chair? When knowing this and putting down the right chair, one can avoid most issues as they won’t sit down on a cold surface. Simply put, with the right furniture, one can keep their body warm on a cold day.You can also add pillows to plastic or metal furniture to make them cozy.

Outdoor heater: With a well-placed outdoor heater, a person can warm up the outdoor air. Not only that, it’s fun to look at a cool heater that is glowing in the cool night. To get started, a homeowner should find a place on his or her outdoor patio where they can place the heater. Then, when doing this, it’s also wise to ensure that it is safe to put the heater in the area. Then, the homeowner can run out to a local hardware store and buy one for the house.

Plants and a wall: Finally, when outside, it’s wise to block the wind and shield the people who are on the patio. With a well-placed plant or two, a homeowner can block the wind and enjoy his or her time outside. Not only that, with a beautiful plant, a person can sit outside and enjoy the greenery and shrubs. For this reason, when working on an outdoor area, one should seriously consider investing in a few plants.

With these three tips, a homeowner can keep his or her patio warm and comfortable. Luckily, when doing so, one will increase the value of their home and have more fun on the patio. Remember, there is no reason a person has to suffer during the cold months.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How to Store Patio Furniture and Yard Decor for the Winter

A homeowner with cherished patio furniture, such as our wrought iron patio furniture, should know what he or she is doing when it comes to taking care of their pieces. Think about it, once a person deals with the cold winter or rainy days, he or she will watch as the furniture ends up destroyed. Furthermore, even if it’s not destroyed, it will not last as long. With this in mind, here is a short guide on how to store patio furniture and yard decor for the winter.

Cover it up: First and foremost, whether putting the items inside or outside, one needs to cover the items. Then, it’s possible to protect them against rain, sun, wind, sleet and snow. Otherwise, without this first and simple step, a homeowner will watch as his or her items end up with serious damage in the short and long-term.

Clean it up: Now, before storing items, one should clean them and remove any excess dirt or other substances. When doing this, a homeowner can protect his or her items and watch as they look great all year. Not only that, once a homeowner covers his or her items, they can come back in the spring and hit the ground running. If not, when the homeowner unpacks the items, he or she will deal with dirt and other disgusting substances, which will take time to clean.

Inside the shed or house: Finally, without a doubt, when owning a house, one will want to have room to put stuff away from the elements. For this reason, when looking to protect home decor or yard items, one should put the items in the basement or attic. If not an option, a homeowner can also put the items in the outdoor shed or garage. Then, and only then, one will protect their items and avoid any costly problems in both the short and long-term.

With these three simple steps, a homeowner can protect his or her items from the harsh elements. Otherwise, when ignoring this advice, one will have a hard time when winter rolls around, especially if a person lives in the colder areas of the United States.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Decorating Your Yard for Fall

It’s that time of year again as summer wanes and the weather cools. Trees start to change to their fall colors, like the red leaf of the maple or the yellow leaf of the birch. Mum buds open in brilliant colors of yellow, rust, orange and red. Pumpkins ripen into brilliant orange and tall corn stalks turn brown. The harvest season begins and considerations for the yard’s transition begin to fill the mind.

Harvest Themes

Decorating your yard for fall enhances the home and celebrates the changing season. Incorporating the images of the harvest is a classic way to decorate. Take an old wheelbarrow and fill it with potted mums and a few pumpkins and set it by the home entrance. Place hay bales and tie up dried corn stalks with brown ribbon on each side of the front door. Place some pumpkins in a harvest basket and sit it on one of the bushels of hay and around the base of the wheelbarrow. This inviting idea will greet guests with a fall-like hello.

Rustic Style

Find an old iron bistro set and place in the seating area of a patio. Stuff an old flannel shirt and pair of old jeans with hay and add a burlap head for a scarecrow and seat him on one of the bistro chairs. Place harvest baskets of rust-colored mums with yellow rudbeckia on the table and pumpkins at the scarecrows feet and one in the other bistro chair. Or make the scarecrow headless and carve a jack-o-lantern and set it on the table. This decorative display makes for a great a rustic backyard. You can also add a Tin Pumpkin Decoration for easy pumpkin decor without the mess or carving.

The Fall Garden

There are many wonderful fall plants that can spruce up the borders and gardens around the yard. Take purple fountain grass and place it in the back of a flower garden for height. In front of it intersperse decorative purple kales with pink mums. Fill a couple planters with a decorative white cabbage and place a combination of yellow and orange pansies around it to set beside the front door. There are many fall plants that will make decorating your yard for fall colorful and fun.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Creating the Perfect Outdoor Reading Area

The perfect outdoor reading area needs to be a comfortable, secluded or semi-secluded place. If the outdoor area is large enough to accommodate a wrought iron gazebo, that would be the ideal starting point to begin creating the ideal personal reading retreat.

Plants can be used to create a living privacy screen around the gazebo. Outdoor sheers are another option for making the interior of the gazebo more private. A chaise chair would be a wonderful piece of furniture to place inside of the gazebo. Hanging a rattan egg chair or a papasan chair inside of the gazebo would provide an ultra-comfortable place to enjoy a nap or a good book on a summer afternoon.

When there's not enough space for a gazebo, wrought iron panels are a nice alternative. These panels can be used to designate a space on the lawn or in the garden that can be claimed as a reading area. They can also be used on a deck or patio as a way to create a reading nook. Once again, plants or some type of outdoor fabric draped over the panel can make the reading area more secluded. A chair, loveseat or bench with comfortable cushions, an ottoman, a small table and a good book are all that's needed to turn the space on one side of the panel into a private reading retreat.

A wrought iron arch that has seating incorporated into its design is an ideal addition to any landscape or garden. It provides the perfect place to get lost in a good book while being serenaded with the sounds of nature and entertained by birds and other wildlife. If this arch can be placed deep inside of a garden, and accessed by a winding pathway, that would be the ultimate outdoor reading area.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Throw a Backyard Garden Party

Birthday celebrations to holidays or private accomplishments are all reasons to invite friends and family to a party. Searching for the right environment and setting is the beginning to the celebration. If you want a casual and stylish approach, then you can consider a backyard garden party. The options with this allow you to keep your party private and with an outdoor atmosphere for friends and family. Knowing how to develop and organize the event is the beginning to a memorable party.

The first step to a backyard garden party is to look at the layout of the area. You will want to define what is needed for the celebration, such as food, entertainment and activities. After getting the basics defined, you will want to decide on a layout. A simple and organizational method for the party will create ease of use by guests while keeping a flow to the party. For instance, you will want the food in an easy to access area that is open for cooking and movement. By creating this framework, your guests will easily be able to enjoy more of the setting.

After the basic layout, you will want to add in a personal touch. Every garden party has decor and themes that create the perfect set. If you are interested in a theme, then you will want to find balloons, flowers, table cloths and other materials that are perfect for the garden setting. You will also want to look at specific items created and defined for the outdoors. By adding these in, you will be able to accent the area while developing a theme and environment that fits with the celebration.

Inviting friends and family to an outdoor celebration allows you to enjoy more of the party. When preparing for any occasion, you will want to layout a framework and set the decor for the perfect fit. By doing this, you will easily be able to open the doors to joy, memories and a casual environment that allows every individual to celebrate the moment.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The History Of Wrought Iron

Wrought iron is a malleable metallic alloy, composed of iron and a fibrous material known as slag, that was heavily used before the modern manufacturing of steel. Throughout the history of wrought iron, the words, "wrought iron" were a term that means worked iron. This type of iron was more workable and versatile than cast iron or pig iron, because of its lower carbon and slag content. Consequently, wrought iron was often referred to as commercially pure iron, but this is a designation that no longer survives in modern industry, a status lost since the manufacturing of iron that is far more pure. Wrought iron remained as one of the most widely used forms of iron until issues with the brittleness of steel were later overcome. Before that time, steel was sometimes used, but primarily in the composition of edged weapons, such as swords, knives, and axes. Today, people often think of guard rails, garden furnature, and even iron gates as being composed of wrought iron, because of the traditional use of wrought iron in the manufacturing of these products. However, when manufacturing modern versions of these items, it has become the case that they are actually composed of mild steel instead.

Early Methods Of Producing Wrought Iron

Leading up to the end of the 18th century, charcoal was employed in the smelting of iron ore to produce wrought iron in the bloomery process. It was also possible to render wrought iron from pig iron by way of a finery forge. Alternatively, one could accomplish a similar outcome using a Lancashire hearth. The first large scale method for the production of wrought iron came as a result of the puddling process in a reverberatory furnace

The Height And Fall Of Wrought Iron's Usefulness

During the 1860's, at a major climax in the history of wrought iron, demand for wrought iron had increased significantly. Nations were using wrought iron heavily in the construction of iron clad vessels that served as war ships for military purposes. Improvements in land based transportation gave way to the extensive use of the rail ways, which produced an even greater need for wrought iron production for industrial use. In the years that eventually followed, mild steel manufacturing improvements helped to cause the decline of wrought iron in commercial manufacturing and industry, making way for more durable steel products to reach the market.

Friday, September 5, 2014

When Are the Harvest Times for Fall Produce?

Many of our customers use our products in vegetable or fruit gardens. As summer draws to a close, so does the harvest season for many favorite warm-season vegetables. However, fall brings in a bounty of its own that includes fruits, vegetables and even nuts. Harvest times for fall produce revolve around seasonal holidays as well as whether the growing region faces an early cold snap. Here are some general guidelines to help plan fall harvest times.

Apple harvest times vary based on the specific variety but generally run from early to late fall. Apples are ready for harvest when they detach from the tree easily with a gentle tug. If apples begin to fall to the ground, it’s a good indication that harvest time has arrived.

Pumpkins, Gourds and Winter Squash
Pumpkins, gourds and winter squash are often harvested before Halloween so that they can be used as decorations. If they are solely for a decorative purpose, these gourds can be harvested any time that they reach the desired size. For eating purposes, they should remain on the vine until a fingernail pressed into them leaves no indention. This means that the rind has hardened and the gourds will last longer in storage.

Cool-Season Leafy Crops
Many cool-season veggies are ready for harvest just in time to grace the Thanksgiving table. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and parsnips are slightly different in their harvest technique. The taste of these vegetables greatly improves after the first light frost. After the first frost, this produce should be harvested quickly before a hard frost kills them.

Fall is also the time of year that popular nuts ripen, such as pecans. This southern delicacy comes in several varieties with some ripening in late October and others in early December. Like apples, once the shells begin to fall to the ground, it is a good sign that the remaining nuts are ready for picking.

Sweet Potato
The sweet potato is another southern favorite widely used for Thanksgiving feasts. Unlike some other fall vegetables, these tubers should be dug up and stored before any threat of frost occurs.