The DiRoberto Team
RE/MAX Advantage I | 508-459-5522 | [email protected]


Posted by The DiRoberto Team on 8/5/2018

Whether it's for your children or grandchildren starting a kid-friendly garden is a rewarding activity for everyone. It’s a great hobby to enjoy together and a wonderful learning experience for you both.

Start by sectioning off a piece of your yard or garden just for them. If you already have a garden or plan on starting one of your own this will allow your child to have a space of their own and protect your more advanced plants from their inexperience. They will love to have a corner for themselves! Allow them to do as they please here and decorate it as they wish.

When putting their garden together don’t make all the decisions for them. Allow them to pick out which plants to grow and/or where they will be planted. Help them choose from plants they are already familiar with or to create a themed garden such as a pizza, rainbow or alphabetical garden. Herbs and edible flowers make for an exciting sensory experience and make great additions to a child-friendly garden.

After choosing what to plant start with your seedlings indoors. Now is a great time to start educating them about the growing process, what to expect and what their role in helping their new plants grow will be. Visit the library together to check out some books all about gardening. Children’s educational books with lots of bright, colorful pictures and easy to read words will help them feel like this really is their project and responsibility to learn about.

If choosing potted plants take them with you and teach them the signs of a healthy plant. Allowing them to choose which plant to take home will create excitement and ownership over the gardening process.

Assign your child age-appropriate tasks for caring for their garden and assist them where needed. As much as it is their garden they will need your help to keep it alive and thriving. This could be planting the initial seedlings, weekly watering, or regular weeding. And be sure to include them when it comes time to harvest all of your hard work together!

Keep the learning process and excitement alive with activities to track the progress of their garden. Consider helping them start a plant journal where they can track color, growth or draw depictions of their plants. You could also keep a photo record of your child standing next to the plant each week to track its growth in a fun, visual way.

Gardening is an enriching, relaxing and educational pastime for adults and children alike. Spend quality time with your child by helping them start a garden of their very own, even if it's just a small corner of your own prized garden. Reap the rewards!





Posted by The DiRoberto Team on 5/7/2017

If you keep a garden but find yourself throwing away leftover food, you're probably missing out on the opportunity to reclaim the nutrients of that food through composting. When you compost, you're essentially speeding up nature's process of breaking down organic matter into fertile soil. The compost can then be used to nourish the soil of your garden or lawn. Today you'll learn how to make a compost bin, mix the compost, and then spread it into your lawn and garden so you can make the most of the extra waste you have at home.

Making a compost bin

There are endless ways to make a compost bin. In fact, a bin isn't even necessary to make good compost, and some people choose to just keep a pile that they turn throughout the year. Making a bin has many advantages, however: it keeps the compost pile warm and moist (two essential elements that speed up decomposition), it keeps pests out of your compost, and it keeps your neighbors happy who might not want to smell decomposing food when they go outside. Compost bins are commonly made from wood, chicken wire or plastic. Some towns even subsidize compost bins to encourage people to compost rather than throwing their compostable waste in the trash. Old wooden pallets are a great product to build compost bins from.

Adding compost to your bin

People who are new to composting often worry about what can be composted. Once you get started, though, you'll soon realize that almost any organic matter will break down in a compost bin. Beginners often stick to vegetables, coffee grounds, grains, and materials from your yard. Greens and Browns Compostable materials are often broken down into greens (nitrogen-based materials) and browns (carbon-based materials). Your compost bin doesn't need a perfect balance to be effective, but using some of each type of organic matter will produce the best results. Too much brown matter in your bin will be hard to decompose. Too much green matter will make the compost slimy. Here are some examples of great carbon and nitrogenous materials to put in your bin: Brown:
  • dry leaves
  • straw
  • newspaper
  • sawdust
  • wood chips
Green:
  • fruits and vegetables
  • weeds from the yard
  • fresh grass clippings
  • flowers
  • coffee grounds

Maintaining the compost pile

To create a good environment for decomposition you'll need three things: heat, moisture, and air. This makes compost bins relatively low-maintenance, but here are some tips to speed up the decomposition process: Heat In the spring and summer, nature will provide this for you, but having an enclosed bin that receives plenty of sunlight will help you out. Moisture The bacteria that are doing the composting in your bin require water to live. But too much water will make your bin a slimy mess. Shoot for moist, not wet. Air A compost bin needs to be aerated to blend the ingredients together. You don't need to turn it often; once every two to three weeks is fine.   Now that you know all you need to about making great compost for the lawn and garden, it's just a matter of mixing it in and reaping the rewards. Mix compost into garden soil and lawns early in the spring and in the fall after harvest to keep the soil healthy year-round.





Posted by The DiRoberto Team on 4/2/2017

If you've ever walked down the garden section of The Home Depot and were amazed at the amount of garden tools you're not alone. For such a simple pastime, gardening has become increasingly complex in recent decades. From small, gas-powered cultivators to electric grass shears, the tranquil art of gardening has been commercialized with all of the latest technology. If you're just keeping a small flower or vegetable garden, there's no need for all the gadgetry. Our ancestors made due for thousands of years with simple tools. Here are the five utilitarian tools that will prove useful in your garden today.

1. The Spade

Let's start with the basics. Every gardener needs a spade. You'll use them when the ice melts to till the soil, you'll use it in early spring to dig holes for your plants, and you'll reach for it in the fall when you're cleaning up after the harvest. A good long-handled spade will last years, require zero maintenance if you keep it out of the rain, and help you multitask in the garden.

2. The Trowel

Like its big brother, the spade, the trowel is also going to help with tasks like digging and mixing soil. But a trowel's small size allows you to work up-close with the delicate plants in your garden. The trowel helps you shape the rows and sculpt the finer details of your garden.

3. The Rake

There are rakes for every purpose.  But for our purposes you can get away with having two for your garden: one leaf rake and either a hand or bow rake. If you're the type to kneel down in the dirt and work closely with your plants and soil, go with the hand rake. If you don't want to do a lot of bending and kneeling a long-handled bow rake is your best bet. Once you've tilled the soil in your garden with a spade, you'll want to rake it even and break up large clumps of dirt with the bow rake. Then throughout the season you can use the leaf rake to clean up debris from plants, nearby trees, and so on.

4. The Shears

Gardening isn't just a matter of putting plants in the ground and watching them grow. For a garden to flourish you'll need to take care of your plants, pruning dead leafs. Some gardeners even prune the first buds of certain vegetable plants to allow the plants more time to grow before they start devoting resources to producing fruit. Good garden shears must be taken care of. Clean them after use, oil the pivot area, and sharpen them once per year to keep them in good working condition.

5. The Watering Can

All would be for naught if it weren't for the watering can. It may seem like an item you don't need to put much thought into. But there are certain things you should look for in a watering can. Firstly, the can should strain water into small streams when you pour it out. This allows you to cover the soil evenly and to avoid dumping a heavy stream of water onto delicate plants. You should also be sure to pick a can that's both big and sturdy. Know your limits; if you don't think you're up to carrying 3-5 gallons of water for prolonged periods go with something smaller and elect to take more trips to the tap.   These five time-tested tools are all you need to keep a healthy garden.  





Posted by The DiRoberto Team on 9/11/2016

Cooking vegetables from your own garden is a great experience. In the same way that you appreciate a meal made from scratch more than a frozen dinner or takeout, cooking food that you grew yourself is an extremely rewarding feeling. Aside from being delicious, growing your own food can help you save money, waste less food, consume less plastic packaging (helping the environment), and try out new recipes you normally wouldn't. When it comes to planting vegetables for cooking, however, there's more to it than simply tossing some seeds in your garden. Here's how to get the most out of growing your own vegetables for use on the dinner table.

Plant smart

One of the first mistakes beginner gardeners make is planting the wrong vegetables or the wrong proportions of vegetables. One or two squash plants, for example, will provide ample amounts of squash for most small families. So, think about the meals you love to cook and what vegetables they require. Then find out how much those plants yield. Some vegetables can be planted and harvested at many times throughout the growing season. If you eat lots of leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), don't plant a huge row all at once. Instead, plant in intervals of two or three weeks so you can reap the rewards throughout the season. Similarly, many lettuces (such a romaine) are able to be continually harvested--that means there's no need for pulling the whole planet out of the ground and replanting.

Plan your meals

To get the most out of your garden plan a weekly menu that incorporates items from your garden. If your tomatoes look like they're ripening, plan for making tomato sauce, pizza, or caprese sandwiches the following week. Get creative with recipes. If you have a surplus of peppers, try different stuffed pepper recipes. The internet is your best friend when it comes to discovering new uses for surplus vegetables.

Preserving

A garden should be useful to you year-round, not just during the autumn harvest season. There are several methods of preserving your vegetables. The way you choose depends on your own need. Common means of preservation include:
  • Freezing meals. Remember those stuffed peppers? You don't have to eat them every day of the week once your peppers are ripe. Cook up some rice, beans, and sauce, stuff your peppers and bake. Eat however much you want and place the rest in airtight bags in the freezer. They'll make great lunches for when you're in a rush.
  • Blanching and steaming.  If you're not quite sure how you'll want to use your vegetables but you know you'll use them later blanching and steaming are great options. Boil or steam them for five minutes then toss them into a bucket of ice-water to cool. Once cool, drain them and freeze them in bags.
  • Canning.  This method takes some preparation and research but canning is a great way to save fruits and vegetables for use throughout the year and are great if you don't have extra space in your freezer for frozen vegetables.





Posted by The DiRoberto Team on 4/5/2015

Flowers, if properly planted add color, style and allure to the look of the home. They are a cost effective way of giving your home and yard that desired face lift. However, to optimize the benefits that flowers provide, there are a few basics that should be understood in order to give the flowers what they need. Sun is fundamental Planting and growing flowers requires some hard work and consistent maintenance. However, it is important to recognize that the energy from the sun is the key element in keeping flowering plants in full bloom.  The recommended sunlight exposure to plants requiring full sun is between 6 to 8 hours daily.  Shade tolerant plants do not have the same sun requirement, therefore it is important to know the needs of your flowers prior to planting. Good Soil Is Critical The quality of the soil is very important as this is where the success of your plant lies.  It should be rich in organic matter to increase the mineral availability and the diversity of other microbes.  The texture of the soil will vary depending on where you live. Your goal is to provide a rich, PH balanced soil for your plants that will allow for easy expansion of their root systems.  Healthy soil is equally as important to vegetable and flower gardens. Feeding your garden soil is an ongoing process. Annuals and Perennials As far as planting is concerned, this needs to be taken into consideration as these are the two major types of plants. For annuals, their entire life cycle is in a single growing season. The plant sprouts, grows leaves and roots,  produces flowers, and dies at the end of the season.  Some gardeners prefer them because if properly taken care of, they will bloom all season. Perennials are flowers that stay alive all season and come up every year.   Even when the part above the soil dies back, the root systems stay alive and sprout again the next growing season.  Most perennials spread and multiply making them a gardener's delight.  However, spring and fall transplanting is often required to maintain a well manicured perennial garden. Which is preferable? The choice of which type of plant to use in the garden is relative as they all serve a different purpose. If you desire lots of flowers, annuals are great, however, they will require lots of care and watering to keep them alive. Be ready to replace them after one year. For perennials, they provide a steady structure for the look of the garden. Depending on your preference, you can go for either. For perennials, whether they are bought as plants or seeds, they may require up to a year or more to get established and bloom. If you desire flowers right away, annuals are recommended, however, some gardeners combine perennials and annuals to ensure full color throughout the season. Seed or Plant Annuals and perennials can be sown directly from seed. It will take time for them to sprout and develop. The duration for this depends largely on the plant variety and environmental factors.  You need to provide the optimal growing conditions in order to produce healthy plants.  The other option is to purchase plants from a greenhouse that were grown by a professional.  Choose plants that are strong and healthy looking and hardy to your area. Selecting a plant that is in the budding stage will typically provide a longer flowering season than one that is already in full bloom. Cost of Labor Taking care of flowers requires a commitment to regular watering and fertilizing. Plants that produce flowers throughout the season require a lot of nutrients, water, as well as sun light. Perennials are not totally carefree either, depending on the season, they may require some measure of attention. However, perennials tend to need the least amount of basic maintenance. Here is a list of 5 annuals that can be grown from the seed.

  • Carpet of Snow Alyssum
  • Jaguar Marigold
  • Sonata Mix Cosmos
  • Cleome Queen Series
  • Heavenly Blue Morning Glory




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