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Divine Providence, RI: Turn Over a New Leaf by Tending Your Own Community Garden Plot

Divine Providence, RI: Turn Over a New Leaf by Tending Your Own Community Garden Plot

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 15 per cent of the world’s food is grown in urban areas comprised of backyards, self-contained pots on roof-tops and balconies, and community garden plots spread over slopes, river banks, or vacant land which otherwise would be unproductive. Rhode Island’s own capital city of Providence has a plethora of divine, fruit-of-the-vine, communal gardens:

Amherst Street – 125 Amherst St.

Burnett Street – Burnett and Bucklin

Chapin Street – Chapin and Sycamore St.

City Farm – West Clifford St.

Communal Garden – 219 Pearl St.

Dexter Street – 564 Dexter St.

Early Street – Early and Niagara St.

Feinstein High School – 544 Elmwood Ave.

Fertile Undergound Glenham Street- 31 Glenham St.

Fox Point – Gano and Power St.

Grove Street – 111 Grove St.

Manton Avenue – Manton Ave. and Pope St.

Mt. Hope – 65 Knowles St.

Mystic Miner – 112 Miner St.

Peace and Plenty – 89 Peace St.

Potters Avenue Park and Garden – 179 Potters Ave.

Prairie North – 468 Prairie Ave. St.

Riverside Park – Aleppo and Pelham St.

Sessions Street – 160 Sessions St.

Somerset – 85 Somerset St.

West End – Bridgham and Westminster St.

Wilson East and Wilson West – Wilson and Gilmore St.

Urban Environmental Lab – 135 Angell St.

Statistics cite the capital city’s South and West side neighborhoods as having high unemployment rates with low median household incomes. Also noted is the loss of full service grocery stores in these areas, leaving corner stores with limited fruit and vegetable selections for healthy eating. The Community Gardens Network Initiative made up of volunteers offers training programs in growing sustenance, facilitates city-wide coordination of tool banks, bulk purchases, composting, and fund raising activities. During these tough economic times, the community gardens provide a significant amount of food with less of a strain on household food budgets.

Community gardens are not solely for low income residents in the Providence metropolis. Apartment dwellers without a plot of land to plant may take advantage by renting a slice-of-heaven haven. For instance, Fox Point Garden was founded in 2006 on Providence city property as part of a bond initiative. There are 100 plots with yearly dues of $25 for one. There are common work days to help maintain the garden, several potluck dinners throughout the growing season, and an annual fundraiser. The organization conducts several gardening workshops on subjects such as: seed starting, vegetable garden planning, collecting rainwater, alternatives to Miracle Gro, how to tap maple trees, composting, cooking demonstrations, and seed swaps. Planting in Rhode Island begins as early as the first of April for the likes of: broccoli, kale, lettuce, parsley, onion, and potatoes. Generally, other vegetables are planted late April to mid-June. Hoe, hoe, hoe-it’s time to sow!

Wherever you choose to sow a row in divine Providence, ye shall reap much with a harvest of plenty by forging a connection with the earth. The quality of life improves for every participant working communal farmland through the benefits of physical exercise, eating nutritious and tasty produce without chemicals, and fostering a cooperative spirit among gardeners for a common cause. Saving money at the supermarket is yet another dividend from working fertile ground.

Just as the individual gardener reaps what he sows, the planet also benefits from community gardens. High density development of the land improves air quality, while reducing noise and air pollution. Gardening beautifies and utilizes vacant land that would otherwise have gone to waste. Soil erosion is prevented through a network of roots which take hold.

Come spring, don’t be a couch potato. Gather a few gardening tools and tend your own community garden plot. Mind your peas and watch your urban garden grow. Cultivate a sense of pride, stemming from working the land in divine Providence.…

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Gazebo Canopy or Real Gazebo: What’s the Difference?

Gazebo Canopy or Real Gazebo: What’s the Difference?

Gazebo and gazebo canopy are often referred to as the same thing but in reality, are very different structures. They both provide shade and protection from the elements but their size, strength and construction are very different. Let’s compare these two to see some of the differences.

A gazebo canopy is very similar to a shade canopy or garden canopy. These are all simple structures with four metal posts for legs and fabric canopy tops. They are very versatile and portable due to their lightweight design and simple construction. Some of the fancier ones have more complex legs and valances which give them a gazebo type look which may account for some of the confusion.

These canopies are perfect for backyards, parks or other outdoor functions that require lots of time in the sun. Their portable shade is a welcome relief. They come in many different styles and colors to match any backyard or patio decor. They are usually quick to setup and take down which makes them perfect for parties, bar-b-ques, picnics or wherever you need portable shade.

Some varieties are referred to as pop up gazebos as the fabric top is already attached to the poles allowing for quick and easy setup. Other designs can be semi-permanently mounted and left up for the whole summer. You’ll need to be careful here as high winds and other violent weather can easily rip or tear the canopy top. Replacing a canopy top is fairly common and many stores carry the gazebo replacement covers.

Real gazebos are usually larger and more sturdy. They are most often permanent structures and can be found in parks and other public gathering areas as well as backyards. They are usually made of wood or vinyl and built to withstand the weather. They are often mounted on cement pads to insure a solid and level anchor to the ground.

Gazebos come in many different shapes although the octagon and oval are the most common. They can also be built small for residential backyards or very large for outdoor public parks or as a centerpiece in a town square.

They are enclosed by waist high railings but always open for plenty of fresh air. They can be screened if for bug protection if that’s a problem in your area. Real gazebos will often have a cupola on the top which adds to their attractive design and gives them that distinctive gazebo look.

You can see that a gazebo is quite different from a gazebo canopy. Both structures provide shade and can enhance your backyard although a real gazebo will cost more and require a more permanent place to be erected. A gazebo canopy, on the other hand, is very versatile and great for trips the park, beach or perhaps a booth at the local art fair. Either way, the word gazebo brings to mind a stylish and attractive structure that is sure to enhance any backyard or landscaping project.…

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Starting a Flagstone Walkway Project

Starting a Flagstone Walkway Project

If you’re looking to lay down a flagstone pathway for your next home improvement project there are many different options as to what you can get. The basic composition of flagstone is that first it has a larger surface area in relation to thickness. Their makeup is that of stratified rock of sedimentary and metamorphic origin. This is important to note as they are easily split or cleavable along their planes of lineation.

Sandstone is the most commonly used flagstone. This rock is formed primarily of silica. There are those which are split along their planes of lineation, and those that are not. The ones that are split are usually in thickness from 0.5″ to a few feet thick, and are split with hand chisels. The ones which are not are quarried in giant blocks which are cut into slabs with machines in the same way marble is. Machine cut slabs will show machine marks, hand cut slabs will look more natural.

Slate stones are layers of metamorphic rock with clay like minerals which are flat and flaky in nature. It is quite softer than sandstone and easily split by chisel and hammer. This makes them very easy to work with when trying to get them into tight spaces. You rarely need a machine to split and shape slate stone. Their limitation is in the availability of large rocks.

Limestone is calcareous sedimentary rocks that occur in nature in layers or beds. Some are split and some are not split. The ones which are split are worked on by hand to produce natural slabs. The non split is again cut with machines, which shows unnatural saw marks. Their surface can be polished, which is a real eye catcher.

A classic building material is clay bricks. These essential building blocks of human achievement come in all manner of styles and designs. From the classic wall cladding, the equally classic brick with a DP mark, to the diamond cladding solids, the paver, and all manner of clay bricks with carving designs. The most common size available is 220x100x70 millimeters. Surface finishes available are handmade, wire cut, and double fresh. They can be used for footpaths, garden beds, sidewalks, and pretty much any other exterior pathway. Not to mention building walls or even your own wishing well.

For a truly unique look, consider blending a wide assortment of flagstones together. This can give your home a look unlike any other around, and you can use your sense of design to express yourself in a way no one else can. A great accent to consider is carefully and tastefully placed marble slabs. These can be used as a centerpiece, an edging, or as a randomly placed eye catcher.

When you begin looking at your next home renovation project, and want to add a natural and earthy look to your home, flagstones are a great consideration. There are many options to choose from to best meet your needs, and to best suit your home. Start your research early and you’ll find great flagstone for your home in no time.…

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Plant Sedum for Reliable Fall Color

Plant Sedum for Reliable Fall Color

Blooming in late summer when the rest of the flower garden is beginning to look rough and ragged, autumn sedum is just beginning to open its flowers for its blooming season.

Most garden sedums are Sedum purpureum “Autumn Joy,” from the botanical family commonly called “Stonecrop.” Stonecrop meant “sprouting from the stone” in Middle English and most likely refers to way the plant often grows among stones, which provide the drainage sedum needs. Sedum comes from the Latin sedere meaning “sit” as in “sitting atop the stones.” They do appear to be sitting atop the stones when growing in a naturalized garden setting.

They are perfect for such naturalized or low-maintenance gardens, because they seem to thrive on neglect. They can grow fairly well in shade, although they do much better in full sun. They don’t seem to mind not being fertilized or watered either.

Moderately tolerant of road or sidewalk salt, they do not like wet feet, a condition almost always fatal. Classified as a herbaceous perennial, sedum grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9. Attractive to bees and butterflies, they’re also deer and rabbit resistant.

Sedum grows 18 to 24 inches high and spreads 12 to 18 inches wide. Propagate by stem and leaf cuttings or root division. Divide plants in spring or fall; spring-propagated plants often bloom the same year. Sedum “Autumn Joy” was introduced in 1955. It mixes well in the perennial garden with ornamental grasses, cone flowers, artemisia, and lavender.

Cut the plants back once a year when they first reach eight inches high. This will produce more side growth, which in turn will produce more blooms in fall. The flower buds look like broccoli. The unopened flowers make interesting additions to late summer bouquets.

The flowers turn pink first, then color to deep burgundy as fall progresses. Sedum “Autumn Joy” is the classic burgundy color; other varieties are available in yellow, orange, red or pink.

Whatever color or variety of sedum is growing in your garden, cut the mature flowers to dry for winter bouquets. Their flower clusters are in high demand by crafters and florists for autumn decorating.

You could also leave the dried flowers on the plants to provide winter interest in the garden. The flower often heads peek over the top of the snow, reminding us that things actually grow outside, even if all we see right now is winter’s frozen landscape.…

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Gardening Tips – Successfully Battling the Dry Weather Spells

Gardening Tips – Successfully Battling the Dry Weather Spells

Growing a garden is so much hard (gratifying, but hard) work, and you do not want to see most of your effort go to waste. Threats abound just waiting – almost like a person – to pounce on your garden. Among those threats are dry spells and droughts.

If you live in a relatively plush, rain-heavy area, your local government may not restrict the amount of water you can use for your garden and lawn. However, many people more arid geographies where water isn’t as plentiful. Consequently, it is quite common for areas with lower amounts of rainfall to limit the amount of water you can use. (This was, in fact, the case where I live for over 5 years. Then starting last year, the heavens opened.)

There are steps you can take to keep your garden looking great even when there is limited rainfall.

Ways to Conserve Water

You will have to get a little creative if you are going to keep your garden healthy during a drought. Plan for how you will make your garden as efficient as possible so it does not use as much water.

One of the first ways to improve efficiency when watering your garden is to use a drip irrigation system for the plants. A drip irrigation “system” can be as simple as some holes in a pipe to help slow the flow of water to the soil and plants.

The drip system moves water more slowly, which means the soil and roots actually have time to absorb more of it than when watering your plants the traditional way.

You can also insulate your plants and soil with mulch to help prevent water loss through evaporation. Doing so will also slow the runoff of water when either you water the garden or it rains.

Prepare Ahead of Time

If you know you live in a climate that tends to experience dry weather, you should do whatever you can to prevent your garden from not having enough water ahead of time. One way to do this is to collect water in a rain barrel.

A rain barrel seems much more complicated than it really is, and setting one up is actually pretty easy.

You need to find a large container – such as a large garbage can – to put the barrels in. Then, to maximize the amount of water you collect, place those barrels under your rain downspouts so the barrels collect all the water from the gutters.

Saving the water ahead of time will give you a lot of water to use for your garden. This water will be enough to help get you through the dry spells, and prevent your garden from dying. Just be sure to keep the barrels covered so you don’t attract swarms of mosquitoes!…

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Getting Started With a Starter Greenhouse

Getting Started With a Starter Greenhouse

With portable greenhouses becoming cheaper and more easily available, there are many people who have become interested in owning one. Whether you are planning to build or buy a starter greenhouse, you should first consider your space requirements and your budget. These two important factors can help you make the right decision regarding the type of structure to be constructed or purchased. You will also need to think about heating and ventilation requirements, and make sure there’s a handy supply of water. From there you can decide what your structure should be made of and what kinds of plants are to be grown inside it.

The next decision is whether to make the structure attached or free-standing. An attached building can be directly accessed from inside the house while a free standing one will require you to get out of the house before having access to it. Or you may opt for an indoor greenhouse if you have space constraints, or if it gets too cold in the wintertime in your region.

There are also different styles of greenhouses, with the classic barn-type being the most common. Portable, pre-fabricated starter greenhouses are very popular because they require very little in the way of setup and are easy to maintain. However, if you’re serious about gardening, you should consider building a permanent structure as it will be more durable over the long term. The typical building made of glass as seen in movies and magazines is an expensive choice, but there are other cheaper alternatives. Many pre-fabricated models make use of aluminum framing enclosed with polycarbonate panels.

Most people who enjoy this form of indoor gardening would say that it is best to build the biggest structure your budget and available space can accommodate. Although some people are hesitant to do so, many of them end up expanding their starter greenhouse, which ends up being more costly. Often, people do not like the idea of having a large enclosure because they are not confident that they are going to be able to completely fill it. The truth is that once they get started, the more likely problem will be which plants they will have to give up when there is no more space for them.

An important consideration when it comes to these structures is that you make sure to choose the kinds of plants that match your level of experience in gardening. You have to make a commitment to caring for them, otherwise it will have been a wasted effort. You also have to remember to ask about permits, requirements and licensing in your neighborhood so that you do not have to worry about anything else other than tending to your growing plants in your starter greenhouse.…

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Garden Pond Pumps For Animated Garden Ponds

Garden Pond Pumps For Animated Garden Ponds

Have you ever seen garden ponds equipped with devices that shoot water out from all directions at different heights, lengths, and angles; ponds that have intricate fountain systems; ponds with layers of waterfalls, or ponds that incorporate all that have been mentioned? If these types of ponds tickle your fancy, then you animated ponds are for you.

Animated ponds involve the use of garden pond pumps, which pressurize, precisely manipulate, and manage the flow of water within the pond. The pumps utilize an assortment of constantly moving parts to create the various effects desired by its owners.

Due to the nature of these devices and mechanisms, a degree of maintenance and part replacement should be expect; as expected in all devices with moving parts and complicated functions. Knowledge of these functions is also required.

If this type of garden pond is desired, a large amount of design and planning also has to be invested before the actual construction takes place. Considerations to power consumption, voltage, size, water capacity, coincide with the amount of features that are to be applied to the design. Practicality must also be taken into consideration for the cost effectiveness of maintenance and power consumption.

In other words, be prepared for the cost of repairs and upkeep involved in the future. Furthermore, make sure the parts and materials utilized are of the best quality at reasonable prices. Do not go on with the construction if the cost of maintaining the garden pond will burn holes in your pockets, or if you can’t afford it. Building the pond is merely one factor, maintaining the pond is another.

Regardless of the degree of intricacy put into the design of the garden pond, or the amount of functions used by the garden pond pumps, the important thing is the amount of joy it brings you. The smile it puts on your face is all that matters.…