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Got questions about labeling or organizing your plants? We’re here to help. Enjoy our blog “Metal to the Petal” to find ideas, images and answers as you keep your garden organized. We invite you to comment and share!   

Identifying Native Plants for Your Garden

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Share a Part of Your Region by Identifying Native Plants to Grow at Home

identifying native plantsWhen planning the layout of your yard, it’s understandable that you’d take a conventional approach and choose a combination of attractive plants that are normally found in a landscaping plot. If you want a conversation piece, you may want to take a different direction. Identifying native plants for a garden with a little history can create an interesting retreat that invites a discussion of your region.

You may need to do a little digging at your local library or consult with a gardener at a botanical garden in your region to find out more about identifying native plants that will thrive in your yard. It’s worth the effort, and here’s why:

It gives a boost to the local ecosystem. When you include native plants in your landscaping, you’re helping the soil get the nutrients it needs and you help animals find the shelter and food that they’re accustomed to eating. Wildlife depends on native plants that have been in the area long before the first settlers landed in the New World.

It adds beauty to your landscaping. There’s a wide variety of native plants that you can choose from, and they come in many different colors and textures. You’ll enjoy the vibrant combinations of leaf shapes, various growth heights and range of colors that come with your native plants.

You’ll help bees and other local pollinators. You’ve read the headlines about the decline of bees, and identifying native plants to add to your garden is a great way to help promote the survival of your local bee populations. Pollinators not only help your garden thrive, but are also important for the growth of food crops for stocking grocery stores and for feeding animals.

You get a chance to dig into your heritage. Poring over information about native plants, you’ll end up learning about a variety of topics for your region, such as farming practices and the history of how cultivating plants has changed. Get ready to find some interesting history about plants in your region, but also about the people that cared for them.

Create a conversation piece in your backyard. Planting a garden with native species will help your landscaping stand out from your neighbors’, and you may soon find that it’s a place that draws attention from those in your community.

As you create a landscape with your native plants, don’t forget to identify them in your garden with Kincaid Plant Markers. Our markers are made for a lifetime of gardening, because they won’t rust or wear down, no matter what climate or region you live in. Take a look at the six styles available, and choose the right one for your garden and your budget.

Gardening Tips For Enjoying an Heirloom Garden

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Starting Heirlooms Can be Challenging, so Use These Gardening Tips For Great Results

gardening tipsAs a home gardener, maybe you are motivated to get started because you love the taste of homegrown produce or appreciate knowing where your food comes from. Or you might have begun your first garden to help your children understand the growing process and learn to enjoy fresh foods. As you have learned more about gardening, you might have developed an interest in heirloom gardening, but these varieties can be tricky to grow. A few gardening tips can help you get started if you are a novice heirloom gardener.

Heirlooms tend to have richer flavors than some of the other varieties you could grow, but they come with some special care needs. Here are a few of the common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid:

Starting out too big: It’s hard not to get excited about growing heirlooms, but because they can require some individualized care, you may want to start out small your first year planting them. You’ll be tempted to try them all, but choose a few varieties and enjoy success rather than starting out with grandiose visions of a big heirloom harvest, only to end with a failed garden.

Heirlooms require some particular conditions to thrive, and managing those requirements for three to five plant varieties may be a good challenge the first year. Heirlooms need certain soil temperatures, spacing, sun exposure and watering, so take your time and start small. Seek out gardening tips from the pros at your local nursery for heirloom success.

Choosing the wrong heirlooms for a starter garden: Some heirlooms are easier to grow than others. You may be setting yourself up for failure if you choose more difficult varieties like carrots, artichokes, sweet potatoes or onions. While no heirloom is guaranteed for success, you may have better luck getting a good harvest if you choose kale, beans, beets, radishes or squashes. You may also fare better by talking with an experienced heirloom gardener to see what tends to grow well in your climate. They may also have other gardening tips that will help if you run into trouble along the way.

Not saving your seeds: One of the core principles of heirloom gardening is that you save the seeds to keep the species growing year after year with identical qualities. Heirlooms are open pollinated, so you can save the seeds from your best plants and use them again next year. Choose your seeds, dry them and then save them in an airtight glass container until spring. This will give you a great start on next year’s garden.

Starting an heirloom garden is exciting, and you’ll love having the taste of heirloom vegetables to add to your table and share with friends. Be sure to label your heirlooms with Kincaid Plant Markers so you can give them all the special care they need to thrive. Take a look at the options we offer for rust-free markers that can be used year after year for a lifetime of heirloom gardening.

Identifying Plants That Thrive in a Winter Vegetable Garden

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Need Help Identifying Plants With Cold Weather Resilience? Here’s Your Guide

identifying plantsIf you’re limiting yourself to only one growing season, it may be time to try something new. There are a few vegetables that do well in a winter garden, and some produce a sweeter, milder taste that may make you a big fan of planting in the fall. Identifying plants that you can grow throughout the winter is easy with this list.

Radishes: This is a particularly good choice for those that find summer radishes a bit too spicy, because winter radishes are much sweeter. The grow cycle for radishes is only about a month, so you can chase the blues of many a cloudy winter day with the refreshing crunch of radishes. They can be planted outside in late August or early September with a thick mulch covering, but you can also add a floating row cover or a cloche.

Carrots: If you want full-size carrots, you’ll need to plant before the end of July, but carrot seeds can be sewn a little later to enjoy baby carrots all winter long. Carrot seeds are tiny and can be nearly impossible to space evenly or even in rows with a steady hand. Harvesting baby carrots allows you to thin your plants for better growth and these sweet little vegetables are a welcome taste that reminds you that spring will come again.

Beets: When identifying plants for your winter garden, don’t forget the candy of the harvest. Beets use sugar to ward off freezing temperatures, so they produce a delicious harvest during the winter months. As with carrots, you can plant beets a little more closely spaced than recommended, and then harvest baby beets throughout the cold months, thinning as you go.

Mixed greens: It’s hard to beat a fresh salad clipped from your own garden in January. Sewing loose leaf mixed greens can be fun, because you can choose the mix of your varieties and clip it all winter long for delicious, fresh taste on your table. When the plants are between three and six inches tall, you can clip them about halfway down, and then the plants will grow again for a spring harvest. Choose any combination of mustard greens, Swiss chard, spinach, kale and leaf lettuces.

Kale: If you plant kale in late summer, you’ll enjoy this hardy winter vegetable throughout the cold months. Even if you plant it later, it makes a nice addition to your mixed baby greens. Best of all, the sweet winter leaf needs little protection against the winter cold, and whatever you don’t harvest will burst into flowering plants when spring arrives.

When in doubt, be sure to cover each of these plants with a fluffy layer of mulch, or try a floating row cover or cloche to protect them from extreme winter temperatures. Even in colder climates, these winter vegetables make good choices for a taste of spring all winter long.

Identifying plants in a winter garden with Kincaid Plant Markers will help you provide the individual care your vegetables require. Take a look at our full selection to see how our plant markers will help your garden stay organized year after year. The only plant markers made completely with stainless steel, they are designed for a lifetime of gardening.

What You Can do to Prepare Your Garden For Spring This Fall

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Get Excited For the Next Planting Season and Prepare Your Garden For Spring Now

20919059 - hand pulling potato plant from soilNow that you’ve harvested your vegetable garden and canned a winter’s worth of food, you may be ready to sit back and put up your feet. With a little effort and time, you can prepare your garden for spring and make sure your dirt is prepared for the next planting season.

Clear out remaining vegetation. Once you have all your tomatoes, zucchini and peppers in from your garden, take time to clear out the remaining plants. Watch for signs of blight, mold or pests because your compost pile won’t get warm enough to kill them. You’ll need to either burn these plants or send them out with your household trash.

Take notes about what worked this year. As you clear out your garden, keep a notebook in your pocket. As thoughts occur to you about what worked well this year and what didn’t, jot them down in the journal. When it’s time to plant in the spring, you’ll have handy information about items such as how many of each variety you should plant, which plants fared best in which locations and whether any vegetables turned out to be a disappointment.

Prepare your garden with compost and mulch. Peel back your layer of mulch and then add a generous layer of compost. Recover it with mulch to help seal the soil against wind or water damage. Be careful not to layer too much compost and mulch because you’ll want the ground to freeze completely.

Conduct a soil test. This is a good time to check your garden’s pH level, lead content and soil nutrient composition. If you need to add any nutrients or lime to balance the pH level, it will have all winter to seep into your soil.

Expand your garden. It’s a rare gardener who starts small and stays small, so there’s a pretty good chance you’re thinking of even more delicious vegetables you could plant. Expand your garden by adding a raised bed, right on top of your grass. Fill it with soil and top it with mulch and you’ll be ready to plant in the spring.

Gather leaves for natural (and free!) mulch. Shredded leaves make the perfect mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture over the winter months. You can also use it as the ideal brown element in your compost pile.

One of the best ways to prepare your garden for spring is by ordering Kincaid Plant Markers. Designed for a lifetime of gardening, they’ll add beauty to your vegetable garden year after year. Explore our entire inventory and choose the markers that fit your needs for your garden.

Need Help Identifying Trees That Add Beauty to Your Yard?

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Identifying Trees For the Best Color Throughout the Year

identifying treesWhen identifying trees to add to your landscape, there are a lot of factors to consider. You may not want to sweep up a lot of pods or find smashed fruit on your driveway. You may prioritize your choices based on the density of shade you’d like to have. Perhaps you choose mostly ornamental trees because you have a tiny yard.

Color is one of the main considerations for many people when identifying trees to create a beautiful yard. While you may immediately associate color choices with fall, there are varieties you can combine for vibrant color all year long. Take a look at the best trees for achieving gorgeous effects in each season:

Spring: In spring, the main consideration is flowers. There are flowering trees that also have nice bark or are easy maintenance, but the driving factor for choosing these trees is their bloom. Magnolia trees produce large white flowers, and their large, glossy, waxy leaves are an attraction in their own right. You can also consider dogwoods, which not only flower beautifull but also produce a show in the fall with colorful foliage. Apple trees are also great for flowers, and if you don’t care about growing apples to eat, crabapple trees are also a nice choice.

Summer: Add some excitement to your summer lawn with a couple of trees that bring interesting texture and color. Japanese maples break up the greens of summer with their burgundy leaves, and even the shape of the leaves adds variety to your yard. Another good choice for summer beauty is the maidenhair tree, which has green leaves in the summer, but the leaves are formed in a delicate shape.

Autumn: While many trees are beautiful in the fall, one of the best choices is a sugar maple. These showy trees provide splendid color in autumn, and because they grow quickly, you’ll enjoy a vibrant show soon after planting. There are several varieties of maple, so check tags carefully to get the look want. For instance, a red maple isn’t always red in the fall.

Winter: It’s no secret that once the leaves have fallen, it’s time for evergreen trees to take center stage. Be sure to include some evergreens in your landscaping to provide you with winter beauty (not to mention some relief from all that raking). Spruce varieties are particularly lovely for winter, such as blue spruce planted in the yard and dwarf spruce flanking either side of your doorway.

There are many great choices for planting combinations of trees to have color all year round. When you’re planning your collection, don’t forget to include a plan for identifying trees in your yard. Kincaid Plant Markers offer a sturdy, rust-resistant design that adds beauty to your yard year after year. Take a look at our full selection of plant markers, each created for a lifetime of gardening.

Looking for Gardening Tips to Help You Understand Common Planting Terms?

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These Gardening Tips Will Help You Distinguish Annuals From Biennials and Perennials

gardening tipsYou’ve decided to try a spring garden. You arm yourself with books from the library full of gardening tips for the novice, but some of the terms hardly seem fit for someone who’s never wielded a spade. From “hardening off” to understanding the difference between biennials and perennials, you could easily be scared off from your first garden before you’ve even tilled the soil.

While an array of new terms in a set of gardening tips can be a bit intimidating, they often describe simple processes or differences. While all those Latin terms won’t be tackled here, you can at least find out a little more about a few common gardening practices with complicated-sounding names.

Do annuals come back annually? Sadly, no. If you want a plant that will return each year, you’ll be shopping for a perennial species. Annuals need to be replanted each year, and biennials like hollyhock and even some vegetables live for just two years. There are many good choices for perennials and some require little care.

Aren’t all plants open-pollinated? While the term “open-pollinated” may make you wonder how other plants are reproduced year after year, this refers to plants that are pollinated by birds, butterflies and other insects, the wind and humans. As long as you save the seeds of your plants, the next year’s harvest will be just like that of the year before. Many open-pollinated plants are heirlooms, which have produced over a period of at least 50 years.

Hybrids, by contrast, are plants that have been bred from two different varieties to achieve a certain set of characteristics, such disease-resistance or better yield numbers. These will not return true to type the following year, so seeds must be purchased for each planting.

Is side-dressing something that’s used near lettuce plants? Side dressing is, in fact, a technique for adding fertilizer around the perimeter of a plant. It’s used to distinguish from broadcasting, in which fertilizer or seeds are cast by hand or by a spreading machine to cover a broad area.

What does “hardening off” mean? This is in reference to plants that have been started from seed inside but may struggle to survive when transferred to an outdoor garden. Hardening off refers to the process of taking seedlings outside for a few hours each day to help them become acclimated to the conditions of your yard.

Is it necessary to use plant markers? When you plant your first garden, it’s hard to imagine how much bigger your plants will grow and that you may forget in a few weeks when you were supposed to thin them out or add fertilizer to each type of plant. Using plant markers can help you give the right individualized care to each of your plants, and if you choose the right markers, you can enjoy them year after year.

When you’re ready to design your first garden, choose Kincaid Plant Markers. They’ll not only add a touch of sophistication and organization to your garden plot, but their rust-resistant design will provide you with year after year of their use.

Landscaping Ideas For a Brilliant Winter Garden

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Winter Doesn’t Have to be Boring With Creative Landscaping Ideas

landscaping ideasIt’s hard not to feel a tinge of sadness amid the excitement as a lush green summer gives way to fall’s explosion of color. The changing leaves are beautiful, but there’s the knowledge that bare trees and dull lawns will shortly follow. With a few new landscaping ideas, your winter garden doesn’t have to be spent simply waiting for spring to arrive.

Many of your plants, trees and grasses will grow dormant, but there are some species that are ideal choices for keeping your winter garden vibrant and other ideas for helping you enjoy the view out your window this winter:

Try new, winter-friendly landscaping ideas. You’re often limited to evergreens for enjoying color during the winter, but there are a few plants that you can choose for your garden that will bring color to your landscape in the winter. There are several varieties of the Lenten Rose, which is a flowering perennial that blooms from January until March. Its stem makes a nice winter bouquet if you cauterize the stem to prevent sap from flowing.

You can also plant an unusual conifer tree called Techny Gold that has gold foliage and only becomes more intense with color during the winter months. If conifers don’t appeal to you, try a Colored-twig Dogwood, which can produce bright yellow, orange or red stems that are visually appealing against a largely colorless backdrop.

Add a colorful container. Brighten up your landscaping with some brightly colored containers and add your favorite winter plants. Many ornamental grasses, like Carex Toffee Twist or fountain grass are beautiful even in dormancy. You can also add small conifers to containers, choosing small varieties like False Cypress and Juniper that can be tucked in anywhere you need a spot of color.

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to add in some flowering plants that thrive in the winter, such as the Pansy or Primrose. Some edible plants make nice winter additions too, like Kale or Swiss Chard.

Entice animals to come and play. Birds are particularly good at livening up your winter garden. Provide a water source with a heated dog bowl to attract birds. Get creative with sticks or rocks to prevent the birds from bathing in the water, which can be dangerous for them in cold weather. You can also freeze cranberries into a mold to provide a treat for your feathered visitors. If you live in a rural area, put a salt lick out for deer or make a corncob available for chipmunks.

A winter garden doesn’t have to be bleak and boring. The right plants and a few colored pots, plus a way to attract animals can make your winter garden fun. You may find that with some clever landscaping ideas, you feel a little excited about the coming winter.

Take the opportunity to label your winter garden with Kincaid Plant Markers. Designed for use year after year, Kincaid Plant Markers are made for a lifetime of gardening.

Gardening at Home: It’s Pumpkin Season!

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Tips for Choosing the Best Pumpkin Varieties for Gardening at Home

gardening at homeThe first cool mornings, school buses rumbling through the neighborhoods and yellow leaves appearing on a few trees all signal one thing: fall is here and it’s time to eat and celebrate all things pumpkin. If you’re gardening at home and wanting to grow the perfect pumpkin for carving or for pie, there is a wide variety to choose from.

While the world around you is obsessed with sprinkling pumpkin spice on every food product in sight, you’re looking for the real thing. Whether you’re gardening at home or just trying to choose the right variety at the pumpkin patch, there are a few tips to know about choosing the best pumpkin variety:

A few basics: First, did you know that pumpkins are a fruit, not a vegetable? They come from a family of fruits known as Cucurbitaceae, which includes other familiar favorites like cucumbers and watermelons. When you choose a pumpkin, look for consistent color and a nice solid bottom. A green stem indicates recent picking.

The best carving pumpkins: When you’re ready to decorate your front porch with a toothy, glowing smile, opt for a variety like “Rock Star,” “Aladdin” or “Charisma.” It’s likely that you can find these varieties when choosing seeds, but the finished product at your local supermarket will likely just be labeled as a carving pumpkin.

It’s pie time: Your best choice for baking a pumpkin pie is not a pumpkin at all. The best results are achieved with a butternut squash or an acorn squash. If you’re a bit tied to the idea of your pumpkin pie containing the real thing, though, you can try a “Baby Pam,” also known as a sugar pumpkin, or the “Cinderella” variety.

You’ve already had dessert, but…: After you’ve polished off your pre-dinner pie, enjoy a pot of pumpkin soup. The best results come with a buttercup pumpkin. If you’re using a sweeter pumpkin, some cooks like to temper the pumpkin with a bit of sweet potato, which can also improve the texture of your soup.

Like other fruit in this family, pumpkin can be a little more challenging to transform it into something edible. Try roasting your pumpkin brushed with olive oil or sauté it with some butter. Both will soften up your pumpkin for easier handling and impart some extra flavor to your recipe, too.

Whether you’re headed to the store to grab ingredients for your famous pumpkin pie, or you’re simply in the planning stages for gardening at home next spring, fall isn’t complete without pumpkins.

When you plant your pumpkins, don’t forget to label them properly with Kincaid Plant Markers. They’ll help you distinguish your carving pumpkins from your pie pumpkins so that you can give them individualized care all season.

Gardening Tips for Choosing Heirloom Vegetables

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Plant Some History in Your Garden With These Gardening Tips

gardening tipsOnce you’ve begun growing vegetables in your own garden, you’ll find commercial produce just doesn’t compare when it comes to taste. Varieties found in the grocery store might be big and flashy, but they lack taste and depth of color. One of the gardening tips that can further shape the taste advantage of a home garden is the use of heirloom vegetables.

You may immediately think of tomatoes when heirloom gardening is mentioned, but there are heirloom seeds for a variety of vegetables, like cabbage, squash and a host of other options. You could enjoy the same taste in your squash that Native Americans have harvested for hundreds of years, or a pepper that thrives in the French countryside. If you’re looking for gardening tips to put a little history in your garden, then heirloom varieties are for you.

Heirloom vegetables taste better. Commercial seeds are bred for a couple of priorities, including their ability to ship without damage and their yield. What is often sacrificed is taste. Heirloom vegetables are preserved generation after generation and the result is superior taste and color that makes commercial varieties seem flat by comparison.

You’ll enjoy yield all season. Commercial vegetables are also modified to produce one big harvest so that they can be gathered up and shipped out all at once. If you’d rather choose tomatoes every week for your salads and BLTs, then opting for an heirloom will give you enjoyment of your vegetables all summer.

Gardening with heirlooms saves you money. Not only are the seeds less costly than commercial breeds, but if you save the seeds for next year, your cost of planting goes down to zero. Heirloom seeds are open pollinated, which means that you can replant them the next year.

Your seeds will be adapted to local threats. When you choose a local heirloom, your seeds will be naturally resistant to local pest and weather conditions. You can further bolster your vegetables against threats by choosing the seeds from your best and most robust plants each year for planting the next year. You’ll have cultivated a sturdy set of plants that are likely to withstand bugs and storms more than a commercial breed that was cultivated for another climate.

Heirloom plants provide more nutrition. It turns out that when size, yield timing and durability are the priorities for breeding, some nutritional benefits are squeezed out of the picture. Some nutritional testing shows a distinct advantage for heirlooms.

Heirlooms are a wonderful way to add a little history to your garden. In order to preserve the individualized care these varieties need, consider adding one more to your list of gardening tips: choose Kincaid Plant Markers. They’re sturdy, attractive and will never rust, helping you enjoy your heirloom vegetables year after year.

Identifying Trees and Shrubs That Can Make an Impact on Your Curb Appeal

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Tips for Identifying Trees That Can Bring Beauty to Your Landscape

identifying trees and shrubsYou may keep your house trim painted, your walks clean and your front door sparkling, but it’s easy to forget that landscaping plays a big role in keeping your home beautiful. Identifying trees and shrubs that will make an instant impact on the appearance of your home comes down to choosing a few vibrant selections.

There are longer-term solutions for a home’s curb appeal, of course, like planting slow-growing trees or some tulips or daffodil bulbs. But if you’d like help identifying trees and bushes with immediate visual payoff, here’s your list:

Ginkgo Tree: You may associate this name with the health supplement called Ginkgo Biloba, valued for its use in improving brain function. It’s derived from the Ginkgo tree, and this tree is a smart choice for beautifying your landscaping. It can grow to up to 25 to 50 feet and provide your yard with lots of shade. The foliage changes from bright green to vibrant yellow in the fall.

Your Ginkgo tree will need full sun or partial shade, receiving around four hours of sunlight each day. Mulch your tree to preserve moisture at the roots.

Burning Bush: You can get immediate satisfaction from planting a burning bush. They change from pink to red and add a bit of fire to your landscaping color scheme. These are a good choice for your flower bed or to liven up a row of boxwood shrubs. Burning bushes thrive in both sunny and shady areas, so there’s a lot of flexibility in choosing a location for these plants.

Japanese Maple Tree: You won’t be the first on your block to have one, because these have become a landscaping staple. It’s no wonder, because they offer a lot of benefits: interesting texture for your planting layout, cooling shade and a variety of deep orange and red colors in their fall foliage.

If you want to enjoy an orange color in your Japanese maple leaves, it’s best to plant the tree in spring or early summer. This tree is ideally planted in full sunlight, but also needs adequate drainage to establish its roots. A Japanese maple has a wide spread, so be careful not to plant it close to the house or walkways.

Beautyberry Shrub: This selection will offer your yard an umbrella-shaped bush with green foliage, dotted with light purple berries during the spring and summer. In fall, white and purple berries appear which gives your landscaping a seasonal change. A beautyberry will do well in full sun or partial shade.

Identifying trees and shrubs for beautiful landscaping is only half the fun. Use Kincaid Plant Markers for added beauty and function to your yard, and to be sure that each plant is getting individualized care. Take a look at our full selection of attractive plant markers.

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