If you stash tissues like a squirrel stashes nuts, you’re not alone. Allergies affect millions of Americans every year - it’s one of the most common yet most overlooked conditions in the U.S.
Gardening with allergies doesn’t have to end with an itchy nose and itchy eyes. Prepare yourself for sneeze-free planting with our pollen-busting spring guide.
A beautiful bunch of flowers is a great gift for any occasion, unless the recipient is allergic to pollen. Here are some guidelines of which blooms will make people smile and not sneeze.
Indoor plants are pretty and can help to purify the air but, in the colder months, mold can grow in the soil and make your allergies worse. Here’s how to help keep mold growth under control.
A hygrometer is a nifty device that can help you maintain the humidity levels in your home without playing any guessing games.
Moving the air around in your home can lower the humidity levels and reduce mold growth so open windows whenever possible and use a ventilator fan.
2. Don’t over water
Every houseplant has its own watering requirements. Try not to overwater. Damp soil is an open invitation to mold. Adding a drainage layer of rocks will also help to ensure that your plants don’t sit in water.
3. Replace Air Filters
HEPA air filters work hard at keeping dust and other allergens out of your home. They also help to promote airflow, which decreases humidity and as a result mold. To keep them functioning optimally, clean or replace these filters regularly.
4. Control the Humidity
The humidity in your home should be below 45 percent. Any higher and mold will thrive. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep these levels under control throughout the year.
5. Keep Plants Out of the Bedroom
It’s inevitable that indoor plant soil will be host to some mold, so it’s wise to keep plants out of your sleeping quarters.
Putting up the Christmas tree is an annual highlight for kids, and adults. If you prefer a live tree yet suffer from allergies, you don’t have to settle for the artificial. There are a few things that you can do to minimize your allergies this festive season.
Try to limit your gardening to cool or cloudy days, and the later afternoon or evening. Doing so will help you avoid allergens, as pollen concentration in the air is generally lower during these time.
Here’s a tip when it comes to raking leaves: leave some leaf debris in your garden to blanket soil during the colder months. Just be sure to clean up come springtime so that your flowers can grow normally. Additionally, be mindful of the mold that can grow on the underside of leaves. You might want to wear a facemask to prevent allergies from acting up.
Bid Annuals Farewell
Once the cold weather hits, it’s time to remove all your annual plants. They won’t come back and doing this will save you future cleanup in the future.
You’ll want to cut back your perennials (veggies and flower varieties) when the temperature hits 40°F. Doing so will ensure there won’t be another warm spell that will cause a flush of growth.
Keep your Plants Warm
Roses, grape vines and fruit trees all need a little extra love in the cold. Cone covers, plastic covers and tarps are all great ways to keep these plants warm in inclement weather. Adding some holiday lights will also save your favorite perennials from frost damage and keep them festive!
It’s never too early to plan ahead. Late fall is the perfect time to plant bulbs for a colorful spring while December provides a great opportunity to start a compost pile. A little care goes a long way. Your garden will thank you in the springtime!
Build a Terrarium to Bring The Outdoors In, Without the Pollen Allergies
What do you do if you have a green thumb and a red nose from plant allergies? Try making a terrarium. They’re easy to maintain, require little maintenance and, best of all, they provide beautiful greenery indoors through the colder months.
If you suffer from allergies, choose hypoallergenic plants with bright flowers for your terrarium or garden – they’ll have the biggest visual impact and they also have low allergy ratings.
Terrariums fall into two general categories:
1. Open: can tolerate some direct sunlight. However, too much sun may burn leaves that are in direct contact with the sides of the container.
2. Closed: A closed terrarium can also be an open terrarium to which a cover has been added. Closed terrariums should be placed where they will receive bright light, but no direct sunlight. If placed in direct sunlight, the temperature inside the container rises considerably and literally cooks the plants.
Pick Your Plants
Finding the right plants for your terrarium takes a bit of planning. Make sure you pick plants that all thrive in the same environment. Slow growing plants work best. A ground cover will complete the picture.
Select a Container
Choosing the right container for your closed terrarium can be great fun. Use an old glass vase or go thrift shopping for some charming and relatively inexpensive options. There are some basic requirements to keep in mind; a terrarium must be made of glass or some material that lets light. If you have light loving plants, pick an open container. If you have plants that like a more humid environment, choose something with a lid. Makes sure you clean the container thoroughly to prevent contamination and mold from growing.
A terrarium does not have drainage hole so you’ll need to create a drainage layer to prevent damage to the plant roots. Use river gravel, stones or broken pottery to form a layer that is 1 to 4 inches, depending upon the size of your container. Then add a thin coating of charcoal on top to help keep the soil fresh.
Try to use plenty of soil that is rich in nutrients. It should be deep enough to dig a hole that easily fits a plant’s root ball. Plant in order of largest to smallest, with ground cover being last. Add cute figurines or decorations for some personality.
Live Long and Prosper
Terrariums typically require little to no maintenance but there are a few things to be aware of.
Heat – A terrarium traps heat. Make sure you don’t put yours on a radiator or in direct sunlight.
Light – Diffused or filtered light works best. Keep an eye on your plants. If the leaves are developing burn spots, they’re getting too much direct sunlight. If their stems are thin and no longer supporting leaves, you should move your terrarium into a brighter room.
Preserve Your Herbs for Fresh Flavor All Year Long
Think about buying a dehumidifier. Mold and dust mites thrive in humid environments so by reducing the moisture in the air of your home you can effectively reduce contact with your indoor allergy triggers.
Air-drying herbs is an easy way to preserve your seasonal crop. After all, Mother Nature does most of the work. Follow these simple steps and you’ll have herbs at your disposal all year round – definitely worth the effort.
Step 1: Find a Dry Place Away From The Sun
You might think the kitchen is a natural place to air-dry herbs but smoke, and aromas from other foods can contaminate them. It’s better to find an out of the way, dry place. Maybe a dry cellar, or attic or unused bedroom.
Step 2: Wash
Examine your herbs stem-by-stem to make sure they’re clean. If necessary, gently wash and dry them thoroughly.
Step 3: Let them Hang
Tie your herbs securely in to small bunches with twine. This will assure good air circulation. When you’re done, hang them upside down to dry.
Step 4: The Crumble Test
Every couple of days, check to see how your herbs are doing. When the leaves crumble between your fingers, they’re ready. If your herbs aren’t drying properly, use a fan to improve air circulation.
Step 5: Use all Year Long
Keep your dried herbs in a cool, dry place. Glass jars are ideal. If they’re properly stored, your herbs will keep their color and flavor for about a year.
Read more about preserving your garden harvest for even more long lasting and tasty tips.
The serene, burbling waters of your own garden water feature can be one of the most refreshing and beautiful ways to block out neighborhood noise, increase the humidity of your environment and grow plants you might not have been able to grow before. Here are some tips to help you decide whether to install one or not.
You don’t need to go far to feel like you’ve had a summer vacation. Just plan a day’s jaunt to the farmers’ markets in your area. From markets in the most unforgiving climates, to the most urban of areas, you’ll find them, and with them, the best things to plant and eat once you get home. Here’s how to take best advantage of the market.