A Video Review of The Perfect Garden Hose

Summer is here, and we all know with summer comes the heat, and a need for a garden hose.  Whether you're watering your lawn, containers & beds, or simply washing that dry summer dust from your vehicle, we all know fighting with the garden hose in that summer heat is just the worst!  That said it might be time for you to get The Perfect Garden Hose

The Perfect Garden Hose is made with a unique polypropylene double helix that makes it the most flexible and only “unkinkable” garden hose.  The outer helix construction allows the hose to come in 30%-50% lighter than the average hose, and also allows for all weather flexibility in temperatures from -20DF to 158DF.  The brass fittings are internally expanded, and are "ribbed", which allows for full flow and high leak resistance.

If you're not convinced yet, check out the video review below…like they say seeing is believing…

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Facts & Tips on Growing Lupins

A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to try growing lupins, also known as Lupines.  I figured they must be hard to grow here in Syracuse, New York because we don’t see them in many gardens at all.  I actually had a hard time finding a “ready-to-plant” lupin, but was able to grab one at our local market. I bought one plant to see how it would turn out, and in its first year it wasn’t really what I expected.  The plant only displayed a few blooms that seemed to die out very quickly.  So I decided to hit the internet to find out what I could do to get more out of the plant, and in its second year pictured above and below it’s one of the most attractive spring bloomers I have.  Not only is it beautiful, but I also learned lupins have a few other advantages as well.  So I’ve put together a list of some fun facts about lupins and also some growing tips below.

Facts

  • There are over 200 species of lupins, and they are most diverse in North & South America.
  • Lupins are tap-rooted members of the pea family.
  • The legume seeds of lupins, or lupin beans, were extensively cultivated throughout the Roman Empire, and have been used for food for over 3000 years.
  • Some strains of lupin, such as the yellow bush lupin are considered invasive weeds.
  • There are only a few varieties that are grown in home gardens, most notably the Russell Hybrid Lupine that were developed by a gardener named George Russell.
  • Lupins attract pollinators such as butterflies, and their larva, bees of all types, and hummingbirds.

Tips

  • Lupins can be grown from seed sown straight from the plant, or from old seeds.  Old seeds should be pre-soaked.
  • If you grow “ready-to-plant” lupins the plants should be very young so they can develop a deep tap-root.
  • Lupins don’t like to be moved so be sure to plant them in a permanent spot.
  • If you must divide your lupins do it in the spring.
  • You can take basal cuttings April-May for propagation as an alternative to dividing.
  • Lupins grown in full sun offer the best blooms.
  • They should be grown in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
  • Fertilize your lupins with a simple all-purpose fertilizer once every two weeks until they flower.
  • You should deadhead spent flowers for longer life, but I am going to let the last spikes go to seed to see if they will spread on their own.
  • You can cut them back after flowering to see if you can get more blooms, but it take a long time, better to cut them back in the fall.
  • Aphids may attack your lupin, so do your best to attract or acquire some ladybugs.
  • Slugs and snails love lupins so be sure to pay close attention and take action if they attack!

So that’s my list of facts and tips, I hope you found the facts interesting and the tips helpful.  Lupins are really easy to grow and offer amazing, colorful spring blooms.  I love attracting pollinators so there’s that benefit as well.  Do you have any additional tips for me?  If so I’d love to hear…

As always don’t forget to sign up over there to the right for regular TUFF GUARD updates, and all things garden hose related!

***Follow us on Twitter at @tuffguardhose, and LIKE our Facebook page for regular updates & share.

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Container Gardening: Choosing Your Container

Container gardening is a great way to enjoy non-stop color all season long inside or outside.  Container gardens are great for those with little to no garden pace, or for those who want to create a colorful focal point in their landscape.  It's a bit early in my area to start planting containers as it's best to wait for the threat of frost to pass, and in central New York that's usually end of May to beginning of June.  However, that doesn't mean we can't start selecting our containers, after all the more we do now the more we can enjoy later.  I've put together a short list of the most popular materials/pots used for container gardening.

Clay or Terracotta

Terracotta pots are probably the most popular containers to use.  These containers are very versatile, and they can be decorated in many different ways which can bring even more creativity to container gardening.  These pots come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, and are readily available at any garden center.  There are a couple of disadvantage to clay, first it's very porous and will dry out rather quickly so terracotta pots are best used in shady areas. Another disadvantage to terracotta is that it will break if left out in freezing temperatures, this makes it difficult to plant spring blooming bulbs in them.

Stone or Concrete

Stone pots are very nice if you're looking for a bit more decoration on your container right from the get go.  These containers take on a natural antique look, but you can also coat them with live yogurt for a mossy look.  Natural stone can be a bit hard to find, and very expensive, but concrete casted reproductions can be easily found at your local garden centers or big box stores.  These containers are much more resistant to freezing temperatures making them great for spring blooms, and it's nice to be able to leave them out in the winter.  They are quite heavy so be sure to place them in places where they won’t need to be moved often.

Wood

Wood planters offer a very nice natural look.  These containers are long lasting, and are a very nice choice for perennials as a permanent planting.  Wood containers can actually be made, which offers an unlimited selection of sizes and shapes however they are also available at most garden centers.  Natural rot resistant woods such as cedar are best, other woods should be treated with a plant friendly wood preservative

Miscellaneous

There are many, many other choices for container gardening.  The "upcycle" movement has opened the door to using pretty much whatever you can find laying around as a planter.  The chandelier planter above was found on Etsy, and I've seen things like old rubber boots, red wagons, pallets, and even wine corks used as planters.  Whatever you choose just be sure it's plant friendly, and represents your personal style.

Container gardening can be fun and easy if careful consideration is used in choosing the right containers.  The containers you choose should be an extension of your personal style, and that style will be shared by all who visit your landscape.  Hopefully this post is helpful in your quest to find the perfect containers for your container gardens.  If you have any suggestions for us we'd love to hear them.

As always don’t forget to sign up over there to the right for regular TUFF GUARD updates, and all things garden hose related!

***Follow us on Twitter at @tuffguardhose, and LIKE our Facebook page for regular updates & share.

 

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My May Gardening Tips and Chores

It's become kind of a "thing" for me to write a post outlining my monthly chores and a couple of tips for the garden, especially during these very important spring months.  The month of May is here, and although spring has been a bit coy with us so far my beds are full of hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, and many other spring blooms.  I know, I know, everyone writes these posts, but I not only write them for my readers I also write them to keep myself organized and up to speed on what I need to accomplish each month.  Like I said, these spring months are very important when it comes to our gardens, the more we do now the more we'll be able to enjoy in the summer months.  All of that said, read on if you'd like to hear about some of what I'm doing in the garden this month.

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Overwintered Geraniums Updated

It’s been about one month since I “woke” my favorite geraniums from their long winters nap, and I’m happy to say they are doing great.  In fact, they are doing so well I thought I would share my success with all of you.  I potted five overwintered geraniums, but unfortunately I lost one.  The one I lost was the weakest going into storage so I half expected to lose it.  That said, the remaining four look great, In fact one of them even has buds already! I wanted to post a few “progress” pictures below just to show how successful overwintering geraniums can be.

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April Gardening “To-Do’s” & Other Chores

It’s become kind of a “thing” for me to post a list of gardening “to-do’s” & other chores at the beginning of each month.  April is especially important since spring seems to have finally arrive, and as the ground thaws we can really get after our outdoor chores. That said I’ve put together a list of I’m trying to do this month, which is pretty much last April's list with a few things taken out and a few things added.

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Bringing Your Overwintered Geraniums Out of Storage

I'm not sure if I'm just a frugal gardener or whether I just can't stand seeing my hard summer work go to waste, but I always feel that overwintering my geraniums is the right thing to do. It might just be that it gives me a nice little project to do as my spring fever starts to set in really good towards the end of March. Geraniums are extremely resilient, in fact if you look close enough at the image above you'll this geranium has flowered WHILE IN STORAGE!  I had 5 geraniums in storage and they all tried to flower, but I just picked them off hoping to save a little energy for the plants. That said I brought my geraniums out of storage this past weekend and potted them up to get them started for summer.  I wrote and re-share a post on "Overwintering Your Favorite Geraniums" that always gets a great response, so I figured I'd write a quick "how-to" on bringing your geraniums out of storage.  I hope you'll excuse my novice photography, but I took some pics and they'll walk you through some easy steps to bringing those hearty flowers back to life.

What You'll Need

  1. Your Geraniums of course
  2. Your pots: I use my terracotta pots because sometimes I re-pot & sometimes I don't and I love terracotta.
  3. Pruners: You can also use a pair of nice clean scissors.
  4. Potting Soil: I know, I know, I used Miracle Grow here but of course if you can use your own own mix it's better.

Soaking The Roots

This is an important step in bringing your geraniums "back to life".  I like to soak them overnight, and the best soak is in Anne Haven's "Authentic Haven Brand Manure Tea".  Soaking your roots in the vitamin rich tea gives your geraniums a much needed boost coming out of storage.

Cut Your Geraniums Back By About Half

Before:

After:

Not to big of a difference, like I said roughly half.  I also like to get rid of the dead wilted leaves, but if you're lucky enough to have some green leaves cut back to them and call it good.

Potting Them Up

This is the easy part, fill your pots with your potting mix and pot them up.  I throw usually split up all the cuttings and throw them in the bottom of the pots with some stones for better drainage.  I've found that geraniums don't like to be overwatered and they need good drainage to do really well.

You've Woke Your Geraniums

Place your newly potted geraniums in a window that get nice light, but doesn't get to hot.  I like to give them one good initial watering, but don't water them too much, like I said they like to dry out a bit.  Keep the soil nice and loose at the top so the roots can get some air, and just wait for the magic.

As always don’t forget to sign up over there to the right for regular TUFF GUARD updates, and all things garden hose related!

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Getting Ready for Spring: March Gardening Tips & “To-Do’s”

We have had one heck of a winter but March has finally arrived.  I know it may not look like March in many parts of the country, but it’s here, and I can’t be more excited.  Best of all, this is the month that our gardens start to wake from their long winter slumber.  So, as I like to do every month, I’ve put together some March gardening tips & “to-do’s”.  I like these posts as they tend to keep me on my toes while hopefully helping you do the same or even learn something new.

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Winter Dog Grooming Tips

Wintertime is a super fun time of year for dogs and dog owners.  Watching a dog run, and play in fresh snow will make anyone laugh out loud. However, dog owners also need to remember it’s very important to keep your dogs clean during this time of year. I’ve outlined a few tips for keeping your best friend healthy and clean through the rest of this winter season.

Protect His Paws

Anyone who lives in cold winter climates must use at least some kind of deicing product like sand or salt, and even if we don’t our friends and neighbors most likely do. Deicers can cause dogs paws to dry out and crack which can be very painful. After winter walks you should make sure to wash your dog’s paws off with warm water to limit exposure to deicers.  You can also have your dog wear “booties” which can be found at most pet stores, and if he/she will not wear them then just put some Vaseline or Aquaphore on the paws to limit exposure.  Also, be sure to trim the hair from around and between his toes to protect against matted snow and ice.  If you’re interested in a great pet safe deicer click here.

Dry Skin

Just like with people, the cold winter air can cause your dog’s skin to dry out and itch. You can prevent this by bathing, using a moisturizing shampoo like this one for dogs.  Be sure to never use your own products as they can do more harm than good. Also, you should be brushing your dog’s coat every day as it will stimulate his/her skin to produce oils that will keep him more comfortable.

Clip his nails more frequently

Your dog is getting a bit less exercise these winter days, so their nails aren’t being worn down as quickly. Be sure to clip the nails more frequently as a result. If you are uncertain on how to trim your dog's nails, ask your veterinarian or have a professional clip them for you.  A dogs nails that are not clipped correctly can be very dangerous.  Use these special nail clippers made just for dogs.

Keep to a regular trimming schedule, even in the winter

If your dog needs regular trimming during the year, be sure to stick to that schedule.  You might think it’s OK to let your dog’s fur to get a bit longer for the winter, but it can actually be worse.  A dog with long hair may experience matting in his coat, which can lead to a plethora of problems.  If you’re afraid that your dog will be cold, a sweater or fleece is a better option than a long matted coat.

Bundle up

Dressing your BFF in a sweater or fleece will protect him from the elements in the cold winter months. This can be even truer for small dogs or dogs with shorter coats. As mentioned above, boots are also a great way to protect his paws from frostbite, and deicers such as salt.

Following these tips as well as the tips in “10 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe This Winter Season” will keep your dog clean and safe all winter long.  Do you have any other tips for us?  We’d love to hear them if you do!

As always don’t forget to sign up over there to the right for regular TUFF GUARD updates, and all things garden hose related!

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February Gardening Tips: “Getting a Jump on Spring”

February is here, and for me that means I need to start getting myself ready for spring gardening.  I know, I know it seems early but getting a jump on the little things gives me more time to the big things I want to do when the weather breaks.  I don’t have a lot of time do to what I like to call all of my inside “honey-do’s”, so I’m simply going to list some activities that I think might give you a jump on spring as well.

February List to Get a Jump on Spring

  1. Take an inventory of your seeds, & take advantage of seed sales to fill any holes.
  2. Sow early season seeds inside, and maybe try some winter sowing.
  3. If you haven’t cleaned, sharpened, & oiled your garden tools, it’s a perfect time to get it done know.
  4. Prune fruit trees, and landscape plants, but don’t prune spring bloomers or you’ll cut off all of the buds.
  5. Keep feeding your birds, they’re almost there don’t quit on them now!
  6. If you have areas heavily hit with slugs do what you can combat them now.
  7. Keep up on your houseplants, treat them for mites, aphids, and other pests, but wait for warmer weather to transplant.
  8. Check in on your geraniums, tubers, and other overwintered plants.
  9. Toward the middle to end of the month get your overwintered geraniums out, cut back, watered and in pots.
  10. Start a new one to two month indoor project to get you through the rest of winter!

That’s my list and I’m sticking to it! Do you have a list of February gardening tips?  If you do please share, I’d love to see what I’m missing.

As always don’t forget to sign up over there to the right for regular TUFF GUARD updates, and all things garden hose related!

***Follow us on Twitter at @tuffguardhose, and LIKE our Facebook page for regular updates & shares

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