Month: May 2014

Pumpkin Season Starts Now

Blog Image 3Pumpkin pie, jack-o-lanterns, changing leaves and frost on the ground—these are the sort of things we many typically associate with fall. Right now, with the summer creeping in, it’s probably the last thing on your mind. But if you want jack-o-lanterns for Halloween or pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, now is the time to start planting.

You’ll choose the type of pumpkin you grow depending on what you want your pumpkins for (eating or carving). There are dozens of varieties of pumpkins (here’s a good site for learning more about each), but as a general rule, for carving, you want big pumpkins with thinner shells. Thicker varieties tend to be better for cooking needs.

Because pumpkins are sensitive to colder weather, especially when they’re young, you want to grow them when the average temperature is above 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit with no chance of frost. Pumpkins take anywhere from 3 to 4 months to mature, depending on what species you plant.

Pumpkins can be grown in a garden bed or grow box, but they need good soil, sunlight, and room to spread out. The vines grow out anywhere from 10 to 35 feet but usually can be manipulated to grow in a rectangular fashion.

Plant the seeds no more than four inches deep and apply some fertilizer or compost to the area for nutrition and moisture retention. You’ll probably want to use topsoil, nothing too sandy, so that the water can get deep and have plenty of time to soak before drying out. Pumpkins need that water and should be watered deeply but not too often. Orbit’s drip irrigation is perfect for that.

However, one tip shared many times is to avoid watering the leaves, because they could develop disease. If you do water the leaves, try to do it in the early morning so the sun will dry the water out before it has time to develop mildew.

Pumpkins are a great source of flavor and fun. Follow these tips and you’ll have beautiful pumpkins for the fall.

Shady Business

Do you have shady spots in your backyard that you don’t know what to do with? You may have tried to grow sun-loving flowers here, with no results. But don’t fret; these areas don’t have to be devoid of life. There’s a good selection of plants that can thrive in shade. You just have to choose the right one. Here is a list of five good flowers with which to start your garden.

Shady Business Blog 3In order to properly plant the flowers below, it’s necessary to establish definitions for the various levels of shade. Shade means an area that receives less than two hours of sunlight per day, while partial shade gets two to four hours of sunlight per day. Partial light refers to areas that get a mixture of sunlight and shade, typically as light filters through trees or areas that receive four to six hours of sunlight per day. Full sun means at least six to eight hours of sun per day.

Fuchsias

These flowers are one to two inches long and grow in a combination of colors from the pink, red, and purple range. They flourish in shade or partial shade. Apply water-soluble fertilizer designed for blooming plants every 10 to 14 days. They attract hummingbirds to your garden. Fuchsias may stop blooming at temperatures over 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Impatiens

These plants have green leaves and produce 1-inch blooms that range in color from pure white to deep shades of pink, red and orange. They work well as bedding plants or for hanging baskets or containers. They work best in partial or filter light, preferring morning or afternoon shade.  These tidy, mounding plants make for low-maintenance garden additions.

Lobelias

Lobelias produce tiny flowers that range from white to blue, purple and red. They are ideal for hanging in baskets or trailing over the edge of containers and work best in partial shade to full sun. They also do well in cool areas, spaced four to six inches apart in the garden or other containers.

Wax begonias

Begonias have waxy green, red or bronze leaves and can grow to heights of 12 inches. The flowers grow in a range of colors, from salmon to orange and yellow. They work best in full or partial shade.

Pansies

These bloom in early spring, and their blossoms range in color from white and yellow to deep shades of purple, red and blue. Pansies prefer cooler weather and work best in partial shade to full sun. Space them six to nine inches apart.

The Perennial Flavor of Summer

Perennials are valued among gardeners for their longevity. With perennials, you’re spared the extra effort of planting new ones every year and can enjoy them for years on end. Here are a few of the most popular perennials:

Astilbe is a beautiful perennial that comes in shades of pink, rose, and white. It is ideal for shady, moist spots. Astilbe flower clusters stand atop glossy, fern-like foliage and vary in size from 6 inches to two feet, and they rise to two or three feet tall. They may look delicate, but they’re actually quite tough.

Peonies are extremely long-lived, sweetly fragrant perennials that product flowers in late spring. The blooms can be so large that the stems have to be staked. The peony forms two- to four-foot-tall clumps in shrub-like bunches, and peonies come in a wide range of colors—almost every shade except blue.

Perennials Blog 1Hostas give you a bright splash of color that that lasts all season long. They come in tubular flowers that appear on tall stalks. It’s an easy plant to grow, as long as you have ample shade. The leaves come in a large range of shapes, colors, sizes, and texture and may be solid in color or multicolored. Hostas are low maintenance and available in most nurseries.

Coneflowers are moderately drought-tolerant butterfly magnets, some of which are used in herbal remedies. The seeds in the dried flower head also attract songbirds to your garden. Their large, daisy-like flowers come on two- to three-foot stems and in shades of pink, white, orange, rose, and yellow.

Salvias produce spikes of small, densely packed flowers with sweet-smelling foliage. These flowers are very heat- and drought-tolerant and originated in Mexico. Plants grow 18 inches to five feet. Also known as sage, salvia flowers come in purple, pink, blue, or white.

Yarrow is a drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant, and cold-tolerant perennial with flat-topped bottoms and ferny foliage. Yarrow can be grown with little effort, even by a gardener with little experience. These flowers are hardy and grow in many tiny, tightly packed clusters. Its fern-like leaves are often aromatic.

Black-eyed Susans produce dozens of flowers in midsummer to fall, depending on the variety. They bloom from midsummer until frost, with orange or gold-yellow blossoms. Black-eyed Susans are native to North America and are among the more popular varieties grown in America. They tend to blanket open fields and are members of the sunflower family.

Russian sage are very drought tolerant. They’re suited to larger gardens, creating large crowds of blue flowers in late summer. Russian sage like sun, and they’re very tolerant of drought and heat. Plant them in the back of your garden to give them room to grow. 

First Summer Install

B-hyve smart hose watering timer

IMG_4021_WebThis past week a group of Orbit employees got the chance to experiment with some of our products in the real world.  These were employees who don’t work in the field doing installs of sprinklers, but they volunteered for the opportunity knowing it could generate some out-of-the-box thinking and get people’s minds going in new directions.

Orbit is sponsoring the sprinkler system, landscape lighting and thermostats in a soon-to-be-featured new home in the Utah Parade of Homes.  We wanted to specifically highlight the ease of Orbit’s Eco-Lock and PVC-Lock products, to show off the speed and efficiency, as well as the quality, of these products.  This home features reclaimed water in addition to standard water line, and we’ll be detailing our efforts there as well.

Besides sprinklers, we’re also going to be equipping this home with our landscape lighting and thermostats, all of which will show you in the coming weeks.

We know irrigation and landscaping can be intimidating for a lot of homeowners, but we are constantly developing products and tools to simplify the process and give you confidence.

Salt Lake Bees “Green Team” Night and Orbit

Orbit_Bees_Field_WorkerOrbit is sponsoring “Green Team” night during the Salt Lake Bees game at Smith’s Ballpark on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Orbit encourages you to use water wisely this season. Visit orbitonline.com to find tips and tools for conserving water by optimizing your sprinkler system, installing water efficient drip zones, and using hose faucet timers to monitor and automate hose watering.

Be sure to visit us at our booth in the plaza between 5:00 pm and 6:35  pm before the game for water savings tips and free giveaways. The game starts at 6:35 pm.

Conservation through Innovation®

Garden Watering: So Many Options!

Watering your garden can be fun. It can also be confusing based on the amount of options available. From spray nozzles on risers to impact heads, and from pop-up sprinklers to drip emitters, it’s tough to go wrong as long as you get the necessary amounts of water to your plants.

I have experience watering multiple gardens a lot of different ways. When I was young, I often visited my grandpa and helped him irrigate his plants and vegetables. He lived in a farm area with a canal as the main source of water. On his watering days, when we opened the gates, water would fill the furrows of his two-acre vegetable garden. My dad set up a quarter-acre area on his property to plant pumpkins for me and my siblings to sell each fall. We watered that area with impact sprinklers on two- to three-foot risers. As an adult with a family of my own, I still have gardening in my blood. While I don’t have the time or land for a garden the size of my dad’s or grandpa’s, I have created a 20-foot-by-12-foot vegetable garden in my yard that I water with drip and spray heads on risers. At times, I have supplemented my watering with a garden hose.

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The way you choose to water depends on things such as the size of your garden, the plants you want to grow, the amount of time you have to tend to the garden, and the source or availability of water in your area.

Of all the watering options available, my favorite by far is drip. Drip watering (often referred to as drip irrigation) is great for almost any garden application, independent of size, water source, or plants. A drip system can be hooked to a hose faucet or underground valve—you simply need to verify that you have some kind of pressure regulator. You can also retrofit a riser with a variety of manifold options to suit your need. Drip is perfect, because with easy-to-use tubing and emitters or micro sprinklers, you can get precisely the correct amount of water right to the roots, avoiding leaf rot and eliminating the watering and proliferation of weeds. For more information on drip watering, check out our other blog posts and videos.

Letting Your Plants Go to Pot: Planting Potted Plants

Having potted plants is a nice way to enjoy nature on your own terms. It lets you tend a wide variety of flowers and vegetation to be grown where space is limited and allows people in cool-weather climates to grow plants all year round. I love the way they add color and interest to my otherwise boring porch. Here is the basic process you should undergo to nurture your potted plants:

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Choose the right pots. Make sure each pot has one or more holes in the bottom to allow water to flow freely. If there’s not enough drainage, the roots can drown and kill the plant. Don’t think you need a special type of pot. Just about anything can be used as a container. Mix it up- use different size, styles, and kinds of containers. If you’re on a budget, don’t spring for a heavy, expensive pot—you can find plastic, resin, or fiberglass around the house.

Next, choose the mix. Don’t use soil from the yard or garden; these might have weed seeds, bugs, or fungus. Buy some soil from your local garden center, where you’ll find a loose, light mixture of materials like peat moss and decomposing organic matter. Potting mix with time-release fertilizer and moisture-retaining polymer crystals can reduce plant maintenance.

Choose the plants. What are the conditions of your space? Determine which plants can live in your available space. Take into account temperature and availability of sunlight. Pay attention to plant tags, which will give you helpful information. One kind of plant per pot should be sufficient. To create a really great look, consider using a mix of tall upright plants with mounding broad plants and trailing plants. Use plants that create high contrast and be bold with color!

Get the pots ready. If your containers are heavy, place them at their destination before filling them with soil. Put a basket-type coffee filter or a shard or broken pot over the hole to keep potting mix from spilling out. Then fill the container with soil. Put it enough potting mix so the place on the plant where the stem sprouts from the soil’s surface is about an inch from the top of the pot. Before planting, pat the soil down with your fingers to eliminate air pockets.

Planting Potted Plants 1

Lastly, place the plants. Take them out of its nursery container. Support the top of each root ball by putting a finger on each side of the stem. Carefully pour the soil around it. If you’re planting multiple plants in one container, leave at least an inch of soil between root balls. Don’t pile soil on top of the plant—spread it around the roots. There should be about an inch from the top of the soil to the rim of the container. Then water the plant.

Good work! You now have a potted plant. Stay tuned for future posts to learn how to care for your plants.

Getting the Garden Ready for Vegetables

Once you’ve decided to grow vegetables in your home garden, now comes the actual implementation.  To get a garden ready really doesn’t take all that much, but a few practices greatly improve the chances of quality production from your plants.

After a long winter the soil will likely be compacted and quite tough.  Get the soil ready for planting by breaking it up using a tiller or pitchfork, perhaps working in some nutrient giving mulch or compost at the same time.  Besides adding minerals plants thrive in, it loosens the soil, making it easier for your seedlings’ roots to take hold.

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Once that’s done, you’ll get down to actually planting the seeds or seedlings.  Many people like to create rows in the gardens, giving you a clear guide as to where the seeds are and aren’t so you don’t step on any.   But if you decide not to do this, make sure the ground is level and that the seeds aren’t at a low point where water will flood them.  Often the plants will give instructions for spacing, sunlight and watering requirements, but if not, check online and you’ll surely be able to find the answers you’re looking for.

Once the seeds are in you need to plan how to water them.  We prefer drip, and there are many options within the drip irrigation category to find just what you need, but either way, make sure you get those plants what they need, not going over the recommended amount.

Some other options are adding a bit of vegetable fertilizer, marking the plants so you know what’s coming up where and working the soil on a regular basis.  Beyond that, keep the weeds out and enjoy your time in the garden as the vegetables grow
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Planning for a Vegetable Garden

Getting your vegetables from the supermarket is all well and good, but grocery store veggies never seem to taste as good as the ones grown in your own backyard. Even a small garden space in your yard can yield big results.

The first question you have to ask yourself when planning a vegetable garden is what to grow. If you’re just starting out, you may want to start small so you can stay on top of things with minimal investment and effort. Take a look at your family and think about what they like to eat. Maybe you’ll want to can or give away some of the vegetables.

Some vegetables produce regularly throughout the season, like tomatoes, peppers and squash. You may not need very many of these. Other vegetables—like carrots, radishes, and corn—produce only once, so you may need more of these.

As we mentioned, a large space isn’t needed to get started. You can even grow in containers or pots on an apartment balcony. Local farmer’s markets can tell you what plants grow best in your area, but consider some combination of the following plants as you seek to fill your garden: tomatoes, zucchini squash, peppers, carrots, strawberries, or even herbs.

Now comes the part where you pick the right spot for your vegetable garden. There are a few things every garden needs:

Blog Photo3• Full sun. Your vegetables will need between 6 and 8 hours of sunlight. If they don’t get that much, they won’t bear as much and will be susceptible to insects or diseases. If you don’t have a spot with full access to sun, you can still plant leafy veggies like lettuce and spinach.

• Water. The closer your garden is to a source of water, the better. Vegetables need at least an inch of water per week, and this is best accomplished with drip watering which conserves water and prevents funguses from developing on the leaves.

• Good soil. Veggies need good, loamy, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter, like compost or peat moss.

Try to avoid planting close to a tree, which will steal nutrients and cast the garden into shade. You also have the option of choosing a raised bed, which is beneficial if you have poor soil or a bad back.

You now know the basics of planning a garden. If you’re willing to put in the work necessary to maintain your garden, you’ll have plenty of fresh vegetables to eat.

Fixes the Easy Way With Orbit PVC-Lock

Sometimes your PVC pipe is in need fixing. Sometimes that’s because of freeze damage or damage from lawn equipment. It could come from ground shifting or old age. Maybe you’re changing the landscape around or adding a new line into your pipes. Whatever the cause, there’s a hard way and an easy way.

34783_Together_1.2.14You’re probably familiar with the hard way of doing it. You have to dig several feet back from the broken PVC pipe so you can get enough flex to lift up the pipe and stick on a coupling. You have to mess with glue and then hurry to get your pipe into position before the glue sets. If you put a T-fitting at the wrong angle and the glue sets, you’re in trouble. And because you shouldn’t apply water pressure to a glued fitting, you have to wait up to a day before testing.

However, fixing a broken pipe comes naturally with PVC-Lock, which brings several solutions, all quick, efficient and hassle free. First, with a PVC-Lock slide repair coupling, you don’t have to worry about pulling the pipe far enough up to gain the flex required to insert the coupling. Simply cut out the damaged section and insert your slide repair coupling into the gap and extend it. Press, twist, done!

Another option is flex repair. What happens when your PVC line runs afoul of a tree root? Cutting roots can seriously damage your tree, so it looks like the pipe is going to have to yield. But don’t fear! With the flex repair PVC-Lock, you can go around the root. Just cut a section from the pipe and insert the flex repair coupling.34784_Misaligned 2_1.2.14

Doesn’t that sound easier? No more buying and spilling cans of primer & glue, toxic fumes, and multiple trips to the hardware store. Plus, the install time is so much faster with PVC-Lock with not wait time for drying. And, PVC-Lock is removable, so if you do make a mistake you just take it apart and start over. It’s just a durable as glued PVC, but not a permanent.

When you use the PVC-Lock system, replacing a damaged pipe or tying a line in becomes so much easier. Whatever your reason for replacing a PVC pipe, PVC-Lock is the system for the job.