tomatoes on the table

Organic vs Conventional Tomatoes: What’s the Difference?

So, you’re shopping for tomatoes and are faced with the decision of whether you buy the organic or non-organic. Aside from the price difference, there doesn’t appear to be anything special about the organic variety, so you choose the conventional kind. Sound familiar?

If so, we’re about to shed some light on the differences between the two varieties so that you can make a well-informed choice next time the opportunity arises.

Homegrown tomatoes

Organic tomatoes are grown under supervision

The first difference is that organic tomato farms and greenhouses undergo inspections every year. These inspections help ensure that the organic produce grown there have been produced in accordance with organic growing standards.

The farmers who operate these farms can often be surprised by unannounced inspections, too, in addition to those that are scheduled and expected. In comparison, inspections aren’t mandatory for produce that is non-organic.

Organic tomatoes are grown in smaller quantities

While it doesn’t have a direct impact on you, it’s interesting to note that organic tomatoes are grown in much smaller quantities than conventional tomatoes are. This is mostly because organic tomatoes take a lot more time and effort to produce, while conventional tomatoes are grown on a large scale because they can be easily managed using pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

Organic tomatoes are pesticide and fertilizer free

Non-organic growers can use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers for tomatoes, while organic growers cannot. Organic growers are forced to use other methods of pest control and fertilization.

One popular form or organic fertilizer is a mixture of rye and crimson clover, which is plowed under the soil to add nutrients. Alternatively, organic growers use compost to keep their tomatoes healthy and ensure their high quality.

On the other side of things, non-organic growers purchase and use commercial products that contain chemicals and toxins, which are released into the environment and absorbed into the tomatoes.

pile of tomatoes

Organic tomatoes are produced without irradiation

In layman’s terms, irradiation is a process that uses radiation energy to preserve foods. It’s primarily used to ensure the quality of food while it’s being transferred to grocery stores and is a common practice among the conventional produce industry.

In the case of organic tomatoes, this process is not used, which is why many types of organic produce seem to spoil faster than their non-organic counterparts.

Which Type of Tomato Is Best?

So, which type of tomato should you be spending your money on? Well, it comes down to a matter of personal preference and opinion. Since organic produce is more expensive, your budget can and should play a role in which type of produce you opt to consume. If you can’t afford the splurge for organic without leaving yourself with no money, then it’s not going to hurt to go for the conventional version.

Sure, organic produce is better for the earth and often aids local farmers and small businesses. However, there’s little evidence to prove that organic is actually better for your health, despite popular belief.

tomatoes in greenhouse

Frequently Asked Questions

Do organic tomatoes contain less chemical residue?

Yes and no. They do not contain residue of commercial chemicals but may contain traces of natural products.

Do organic foods taste better?

Some would argue that they do. This is because organic foods are more likely to be grown locally, which reduces transportation time and has produce arriving at the grocery store in a shorter amount of time.

Are non-organic seeds used for organic farming?

Most organic farms use organic seeds to start their crops. To use a non-organic seed, farmers must obtain permission from the governing certification body in their area.

zero turn lawn mower

Zero Turn Lawn Mowers: The Ins and Outs

What Are Zero Turn Lawn Mowers?

Zero turn lawn mowers are specialized lawn mowers that have their mowing deck in the front region of the machine instead of underneath. This type of mower is great for those who enjoy a bit of landscaping but don’t consider themselves to be professionals. They are faster and easier to maneuver, as well as much smaller.

They can be ride-on mowers or walk-behind mowers. Most have four wheels, with two swiveling wheels at the front and two larger wheels at the back. Steering is conducted by operation handles that control each wheel as an individual.

zero turn tractor

Are They Better Than Lawn Tractors?

Depending what it is used for, a zero turn mower can be better than a lawn tractor but isn’t always. As we said, the advantages are speed and movement, with the out-front mowing deck allowing the zero turn mower to get into tight spaces and close to obstacles.

They are ideal for large areas of grass such as sports fields but lose out against lawn tractors when you consider in how they handle hills and uneven terrain. When it comes to the zero turn mower for hills debate, the general consensus is that they aren’t the best choice due to their tendency to flip over on inclines.

zero turn mower before and after the work

A Short History of the Modern Zero Turn Lawn Mower

In terms of the lawn mower scene as a whole, zero turn mowers are relatively new to the game. The out-front deck design goes back as far as the 40s but the term “zero-turn” is dated back to 1966. The first design to include the term was the Hustler, which was produced by Hustler Turf.

Since then, most major lawn mower companies have adapted to a zero-turn machine to their unique style. In the beginning, this style of mower wasn’t quick to catch on. The idea of the zero turn mower was more than the technology available at the time could handle, so purchases were sparse. In addition, these mowers were also pretty expensive; so much so that many households simply couldn’t afford one even if they wanted one.

The invention of hydraulic motors helped the model gain traction, as it made the mower cheaper to produce and, in turn, cheaper to purchase and more readily available. Today, major manufacturers of these mowers include Hustler, Toro, Walker, and John Deere and the speed and efficiency of them makes them a popular piece of garden machinery.

Although they aren’t for everyone, they do suit a large portion of the lawn mower buying market – especially those who live in rural areas and have large yards to tend to.

So, now that you know a bit more about good zero turn lawn mowers, will you be purchasing one? If so, you’re guaranteed to enjoy it as long as you don’t attempt to drive it up steep inclines!

Strawberry after frost

Watering After Frost and Other Helpful Frost-Redeeming Tips To Save Your Garden

One sure way to mark the start of winter is by taking note of the day of the first frost. If you’re luckily, you’ll have prepared for it ahead of time but if you’re not, you’ll likely be left scrambling to save your sensitive plants and make sense of your half-frozen garden.

Today, we have a list of a few garden-saving tips that you can implement after the fall of the first frost and before the fall of the next. With any luck, some of them will prove to be helpful.

watering young potatoes after frost

After First Frost

Water, water, water

After the first frost hits your garden, you might be thinking that your plants are ruined and, while that may be true for annuals, other types of plants might still push through. Since the presence of frost often means that the soil around your plants has frozen, your plants likely aren’t getting enough water to survive.

Help them out by watering the area – even if it’s frozen! Doing so will help thaw the soil and give your plant the moisture is needs.

watering greenhouse after frost

Before Next Frost:

Cover sensitive plants

If you know that a frost is coming, take a few minutes to cover your most vulnerable plants. You should do this before nightfall, as this is when temperature reach their coldest and frost creeps over the ground.

You can cover your plants with anything from garbage bags and tarps to bed sheets. As a rule of thumb, anything that acts as a barrier between your plants’ leaves and the frost will work. Some gardeners even use things like large flowerpots turned upside down!

Warm with water jugs

Like humans, flowers can appreciate a bit of extra warmth during cold nights. So, to keep them warm enough to ward off frost, consider using the water jug trick.

This trick consists of leaving water jugs or milk jugs filled with water out in the sun to warm up. Then, at night before the frost hits, place the warmed water jugs beside your plants and cover both the plant and jug up for the night.

Relocate potted plants

Plants that are in containers can be moved before the frost sets in. Moving them to a location that is covered but not heated, such as onto a covered porch or into a shed is sufficient. There’s no need to bring them inside.

If your potted plants do end up staying uncovered and falling victim to frost, however, don’t rush to bring them inside. Heating them up this quickly can kill the plants; let them warm up slowly as the temperature rises outside.

Even though frost is a silent enemy that creeps in during the night (often without warning!), it doesn’t have to mean the destruction of your plants. By taking some extra care, you can safeguard your outdoor plants and help ensure that they have a long, healthy life.

repairing soaker hose

How to Repair a Soaker Hose

As every gardener knows that soaker hoses are the perfect tool for gardening. They give off just the right amount of water to keep plants of all shapes and sizes happy and healthy.  If you use soaker hoses, chances are that you’ve worked your way through a few of them within your gardening career.

This isn’t your fault, though – we understand how tiresome it can be to drag soaker hoses around all the time, which is why you, like many gardeners, probably leave your soaker hose out where it gets stepped on and damaged by the sun.

But don’t worry! There is a way to repair your soaker hose when it falls victim to minor damage. Here are the steps.

soaker hose

1. Disconnect the hose

Before You do anything, be sure to disconnect your hose from any faucet or water supply that it might be connected to. Pull the hose end of the item across your shoulder and walk the hose to get rid of the excess water stored inside it.

2. Gather supplies

To do your repair, you need a few basic tools. Gather a pair of scissors, a screw driver, and a soaker hose repair kit. Most of the time, soaker repair kits are inexpensive, coming in at around $2 at hardware stores.

Before purchasing your kit, make sure that you know the inside diameter of your hose. If you aren’t sure, any local hardware store should be able to help you figure it out. This measurement is critical.

3. Find the hole

Next, figure out where the hole is in your hose. Instead of patching the hole, you’re going to cut on either side of the hole in order to cut the section wit the damage off completely. Try to cut as straight as possible; this will make it easier to fit the repair section of hose.

4. Attach repair kit

Now you’ll use the repair kit that you bought. First, loosen each of the screws on your repair kit and fit both collar ends onto either side of the hose. Next, insert the middle tube into the hose where you previously made your cut. Side the hose together and pull the collars together, giving it a hard tug to tighten the parts.

5. Test

That’s it! The next step is just testing.

soaker hose on raised bed

Start by connecting your newly repaired hose to the faucet and turn it on. If the water pressure is smooth and there are no leaks coming from the area of the repair, you know that your repair has been successful.

So, next time your hose springs a leak, see if you can fix it first. Even if a repair kit is more than the estimate above, it will still likely be a whole ton cheaper than buying an entire new hose.

If you’re sure to follow our directions and take your time, your repair job will be as good as one a professional would perform.

soil for succulents

How To Make Succulent Soil

Succulents are some of the easiest plants to take care of. They don’t require a lot of maintenance and, often, don’t even need to be watered more than a few times a week. So naturally, succulents are popular among gardening enthusiasts.

When succulents begin to outgrow their pots, however, minor maintenance in the form of repotting is needed and, to do this, succulent soil is necessary.

If you’re looking to save some cash during your potting, you’ve made it to the right place. Here, we have a detailed guide of how to make your own succulent soil.

Repotting succulents

Succulent Soil Ingredients and Mixing

Potting Soil

You’ll need a high-quality all-purpose potting soil. This soil should not contain any kind of moisture control properties, as succulents need a potting soil that drains well instead of clinging to moisture.  Too much moisture is not beneficial for succulents.

Coarse Sand

Mixing your potting soil with a coarse sand is a must. Coarse send works better over fine sand varieties because it allows for more adequate drainage. Avoid sand from the garden or beach, as sand from these places can contain a variety of germs, chemicals, and unfavorable matter.


Perlite is an organic soil material. In commercial potting soils, this is the chunks of Styrofoam-like matter. Like the sand, it’s a good ingredient to aid in the drainage of your succulents thanks to its chunky texture.

Start by gathering a large bucket in which you can mix your soil. Combine 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts sand, and 1 part perlite; mix it together well with your hands or a trowel. Make sure that all ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the mixture.

Planting succulent in flower pot

Storing the Leftovers

One of the best parts of creating your owl succulent soil mix is that you can make as much as you want at any given time. As long as you have all the proper ingredients, you can make a 20-pound batch if you want.

So, how do you store it? Surely you won’t use all 20 pounds in one go.

Storing the excess mixture in a large plastic bucket is the best way to keep it fresh. Ensure that the bucket has a tight-fitting lid and store it somewhere cool, like in the garage or basement.

If the lid doesn’t fit tightly enough, you’ll end up with a whole host of pesky bugs in your succulent mix and then, if you bring the succulents you used the soil on in the house, you’ll get them in your house, too.

Now that you know how to make your own succulent soil and how to store it, you can get started potting all your carefully cared for plants. Just remember to make sure the lid of your extra succulent soil is on tight or all your hard work will be for nothing.

adjusting sprinkler head

How To Move A Sprinkler Head: The 5 Simple Steps

As young landscape projects grow into more complex ideas and things change, you might find that your newly established tree and shrubs end up blocking the spray from your lawn sprinkler. Luckily, rearranging lawn sprinkler heads isn’t a difficult task – in fact, it can be done in only five simple steps.

sprinkler head

1. Anticipate and plan the move

The best way to get started on any project is by planning it out. So, plan the sprinkler system move ahead of time. Decide which sprinkler head needs to be moved and where it should be moved to in order to best serve your land.

All sprinkler heads can be moved up to four feet using a flex pipe. However, if you’re planning to move the sprinkler further away than that, it’s a good idea to sit down and plan your path before you start digging.

2. Dig a trench

Dig a trench from the current location to the new location. Make sure the trench is 8 to 12 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches wide. Then, ensure you have turned the irrigation system off. If your path is blocked by tree rots or shrubbery, don’t cut them; tunnel underneath them instead.

3. Place the flex pipe

Take a measurement of your trench and cut a 3/8-inch flex pipe that is a few inches longer than your measurement. Unscrew the sprinkler head to be moved from its riser and unscrew the riser from the pipe. This will remove the whole framework from the sprinkler head.

Next, insert an elbow of flex pipe into the combination elbow or existing riser tee and tighten it as much as you can with your hand. Attach the length of pipe that you measured by sliding it over the nipple of the flex pipe. Twist it into place.

4. Secure another elbow

From here, you’ll want to fasten another elbow to the pipe. Put your sprinkler head on top of the elbow and turn until it is tight. Hold the sprinkler head secure in the position you want it to be in and make sure that it is at ground level.

5. Flush and fill

Flush the system by turning your irrigation back on for a few seconds. This will remove any dirt or debris that got caught in the system during the installation process. In addition, doing the flushing now will prevent you from having to dig up the system in the future to handle dirt blockages.

Fill the area around the sprinkler head with your free hand while till holding the sprinkler head in place. Pack the dirt tightly to keep the head in place when you let it go. Once it has been secured, let go of the head and continue to fill in the rest of your trench. Activate the system to check that the spray reaches its destination and then you’re good to go! All done.

Babys breath flower

How to Dry Baby’s Breath

Baby’s breath is a cute little white flower that grows in sprays. These flowers are commonly used as fillers in bouquets, as they compliment nearly every type of flower and are delicate enough that they don’t steal the spotlight from the main flowers.

If you’ve ever been given a bouquet of baby’s breath or grown some in your garden, you know how beautiful this flower is. Naturally, it makes sense that someone – you, perhaps – might want to dry and preserve the flowers after receiving them.

Gypsophila paniculataor

To effectively dry baby’s breath, you need to know how to do it in a way that won’t damage the flower or take away any of its beauty. That’s what we’re here to teach you today.

1. Wrap an elastic band around the stems of your baby’s breaths after gathering them into a bundle.

2. Flip the bundle upside down and clip it onto a wire hanger using a clothespin. If you’re hanging multiple bundles alongside each other, make sure that they aren’t touching; you want air to be able to circulate freely around all bundles.

3. Hang your bundles in a dry, dark room with good air circulation. Feel free to add a fan or two to keep air circulating.

4. Dry the flowers for two weeks. Or dry them until the flowers are completely dry and the stems have become brittle.

5. Remove the rubber band and display your flowers as you wish.

Keep in mind that drying flowers takes patience and that your flowers won’t be ready for displaying within a few days. Inf act, the bigger the flower the longer it takes to dry. So, for example, roses will take much longer than baby’s breath.

In addition, remember that drying flowers isn’t going to keep them around forever. They will eventually need to be thrown out. If you want them to last indefinitely, you’ll need to go through the preserving process and not just the drying process.

Babys breath blossoming

Frequently Asked Questions

Does hairspray work to dry baby’s breath?

Yes. Hairspray is another way to dry flowers and it works relatively well, as long as it’s done properly and the sprayed flowers are cared for correctly afterwards.

How long will my dried flowers last?

Flowers that are dried and then kept away from moisture will last 1-3 years. If they are kept in a protective casing, however, they can last as long as 10 years.

How do I dust my dried flowers?

Instead of using your Swiffer or a dust cloth on your delicate flowers, dust them by using the coolest setting of a blow dry dryer. This is much gentler than actually touching the flowers.

When is the best time to dry flowers?

The best time to dry flowers is the driest season you get wherever you live. Flower drying can be done anytime, though.

Can I dry flowers in a microwave?

Yes. However, this method is known for damaging flowers.

two DYI rain barrels

DIY:  Rain Barrel

It’s no secret that having a good rain barrel can drastically cut down on the cost of your outdoor water bill. Instead of using your hose to water the outdoor flower beds or wash he car, you can simply use clean rainwater that you’ve collected in your barrel!

Great. So, how can you get your hands on one without spending an arm and a leg? Make one, of course! Here’s how.

two red barrels

Find a barrel

First, you need to find yourself a suitable barrel. One that is roughly 55 gallons and made of plastic will work well. Some rain barrels are made of rust-resistant metal, but these are a lot harder to modify and use for this DIY project.

Rain barrel with drainage

Create drainage holes

To get your drainage barrel to work, you’ll need to make a few holes. To start, you’ll want to make a hole in the top to allow excess water to overflow and a hole in the bottom that enables you to drain water you want to use out of the barrel.

The size of the holes you make will depend largely on the size of filter basket you plan to use in the next steps. The holes should be large enough that the lip of the basket can sit on top of the barrel without falling in.

Make it watertight

In order to hold water, your barrel needs to be watertight. To achieve this, inset the male parts of a faucet assembly kit with rubber washes to the inside of the barrel and the faucet fixtures from the outside of it. Using the rubber washer on the inside of the barrel will ensure that there are no leaks.

rain barrel filter

Secure the filter

Next, install your chosen filter. The role of the filter within your rain barrel system is to prevent gutter debris from finding its way into your barrel water. The filter screen should be made of plastic or nylon, so that it doesn’t end up rusting.

At this point, you might also want to raise the barrel off the ground. You can do this by creating a stand or by using something you have on hand already to elevate the system.

Add a downspout

To make modifications to your downspout, separate sections or cut it carefully with a hack saw. Install a down spout elbow that sits at 90 degrees and then a plastic extender pipe. Modifying the downspout makes it easy to attach the extender tube and secure it to the filter that rests in the top hole you made.

Rain barrel with downspout

There! Now you know how to make your very own rain barrel. It’s a lot easier than it seems, as it turns out, and a lot more cost effective than purchasing one that has already been made. In addition, it can be a fun little summer project to keep you busy and get you out of the house and into the sunshine.

Oscillating sprinkler in lawn

All About Sprinklers: Types, Pros and Cons, and Recommended Uses

If you have a lawn that you care about, it goes without saying that you need to water it. You could stand outside and water your lawn using a hose a few times a week. However, you could also opt for utilizing a sprinkler system.

This being said, you want to get the best sprinkler system you possibly can, which means deciding between several different types….so, how do you decide? Here’s a quick overview of the various sprinkler systems on the market, what they’re good for, and why they might be the best system for you.

Impact sprinkler

Impact Sprinklers

Impact sprinklers are the ones that make the “chk chk chk” noise we’re all so familiar with. These sprinklers are known for putting out jet streams of water, which are produced by pressure building up inside the sprinkler head and being forced out.

They are good for large areas, as their range is impressive but not the best for areas that have low water pressure or that have been freshly seeded. It is available in both stationary and fixed variations and is perfect for watering areas of grass such as parks, sports fields, and large lawns.

oscillated sprinkler head

Oscillating Sprinklers

When you think of an everyday lawn being watered, you probably think of an oscillating sprinkler. These handy sprinklers have a tube-shaped body with various holes for water to come out of. The sprinkler uses pressure to push the water out the holes and effectively water the grass. At this same time, this pressure makes the tube move back and forth which gives the sprinkler its oscillating quality.

These sprinklers are great for households with kids but aren’t ideal for households with low water pressure or overly powerful water pressure.

inground sprinkler

In-ground Sprinklers

In-ground sprinklers are sprinkler systems that have been installed directly into the ground. They’re ideal for homeowners who don’t plan on moving anytime soon, as well as for large areas of land as the system can be modified to be almost any size.

In the same breath, however, they could also work well for smaller spaces, since only one or two individual heads would be needed. They aren’t the best option for renters, though, because setup requires digging up the grass.

Travelling sprinkler

Traveling Sprinklers

Traveling sprinklers are the newest invention on the sprinkler market. They are mobile sprinklers attached to a hose through which water flowers; the pressure from this water propels the sprinkler forward.

The sprinkler moves in a pattern hat is determined by the way you lay the connecting hose out on the ground and it waters much like a traditional sprinkler system would, except, of course, that it moves. Since it relies on pressure to move, this sprinkler isn’t equipped for use in low pressure areas.

women with colorful wedding flowers

Choosing Flowers for A Wedding

Choosing flowers for your big day is far more complicated than just deciding between peonies and daisies. From booking the best florist to putting together the bouquets, there’s a lot to consider. Luckily, there are easy ways to navigate the realm of wedding flowers.

Here are a few tips you can use to make the process go more smoothly.

Get comfortable with flowers

While there’s no need to go out and get a degree in botany before your wedding, it’s pretty useful if you know a bit about flowers before you make any big decisions. Familiarize yourself with the basics; the most popular types of wedding flowers, blooms, colors, and special terminology to make the visit with your florist just a little less confusing.

Consider your color scheme

Sure, those bright blue flowers are pleasing to the eye – but do they go with your orange and black, Halloween themed wedding? Probably not.

This being said, it’s safe to say that it’s a good idea to keep your wedding’s color scheme in mind when you’re looking to add flowers to the occasion. The colors don’t have to match exactly and can vary in shade, tone, and contrast, but should stay within the general color bracket of the rest of your wedding.

wedding rosebud palette

Be mindful of what’s in season

Much like fruit, flowers change with the season. Some are readily available during the summer while others are available for cheap during the winter. Keep this in mind when you’re trying to decide what type of flowers you want to use in your wedding.

If budget is a big factor for you, opt to go with flowers that are in season.

Take note of flower meanings

Flowers come with a ton of different meanings. So, why not make your flowers a little bit more personal by going with a flower that symbolizes something important to you? For example, lilly of the valleys symbolize purity and happiness, red tulips symbolize love and passion, and daffodils symbolize new beginnings.

Trust your florist

When it comes to choosing flowers, the florist tends to know best. This being said, trust them! They are the professionals and, even though you may know exactly what you want, they will have the total picture in mind and will be able to provide you with an abundance of valuable information regarding your flowers.

If you’re unsure about giving the reigns up to someone else, research the florist you have in mind first. Check out their previous work, policies, and inquire about general prices to get familiar with them.