New looks for the home are on the minds of LTD Commodities’ Pinterest followers. This month’s most popular pins are of unique accents that personalize a room in minutes. Create a spot for your beloved pet with a decorative gate, and get a start on this year’s outdoor renovation with a charming solar planter. Here are the Pinteresting Picks for February.
There are a lot of steps to putting together a catalog. From finding the right product to taking the photo, there are many people hard at work to make it all happen. One person who has a strong hand in putting our catalog is our set stylist, Raymond. Here’s a look behind the scenes with Raymond.
At LTD Commodities, we do almost all of our own catalog photography at our studio here in Bannockburn, IL outside of Chicago – that’s where Raymond works. He works mostly with garden products – string lights for a patio, a garden gnome or a stepping stone — but he works in a pet product every once in a while. Today, they’re taking photos of cat products.
Basically, when you see a product in the catalog, it’s Raymond’s job to dress up the scene so a photographer can take a picture. His scenes are based on the ideas of the buyer – the person who found the product to sell through the catalog – and he makes the ideas a reality. Raymond has a background in painting so he’s very visual and can see how things work for a photograph other people can’t see.
The photographer sets up a product at the right angle; Raymond then puts together a scene around the product to “create a narrative.” He says one of the keys to making his job fun is having the right chemistry with his photographer. “Sometimes we don’t even need to talk,” Raymond explains.
“Every page has to tell a story,” he says as he puts a cat tower in the middle of a square of carpet next to a beige couch and a window. He creates the illusion that the cats are playing in a living room even though we’re in the middle of a big, airy studio.
“I have to set up a balance,” he illustrates, adding teal pillows to the couch and a plant in the corner to add contrast and make the picture “pop off the page”.
Then, they bring in the cats; kittens, to be more precise. It’s beyond the call of duty, but Raymond helps the cats look like they’re playing. They’re semi-professionals, so they’re used to being cute, but sometimes they need coaxing out of their corners with a few feathers. As an animal lover, when the cats come in, it’s one of Raymond’s more enjoyable days.
On other days, Raymond might be found putting together a scene in a tiny garden – which is one of his favorites. “I get to make a little fantasy world,” he confesses. He’s responsible for the scene of the sweet frog couple garden statue in our catalog right now.
From fairy gardens to cat towers, there’s certainly a lot of diversity in Raymond’s work. “I can’t say it’s ever boring.”
We can’t help but think about planning our gardens and getting outside now that it’s finally spring. And the weather we want was exactly what was on our minds while flipping through the catalog pointing out our top product picks for the week:
It?s time to think about spring home improvement projects to beautify your home for summer.
If you?re thinking about adding to your garden or improving it, a great way to dress up or create new focal points by adding a garden shed. Other than the small structure holding all your gardening tools, it can become a showpiece. It doesn?t take much time or money to create anything from a cute dollhouse or an eye-catching central point.?
By the addition of windows, window flower boxes and shrubbery, a garden shed can begin to look more elaborate. Go rustic by planting a climbing vine to cover part of your shed; it?ll add some country charm. To give your shed more class, use tastefully colored paints to create a very enchanting cottage.
If you don?t want to put too much work into a shed you already have, a splash of paint can dress it up. With an earthy red and blue or green highlighted trim and a greenish yellow door, you can make it energetic or toned down. A new coat of paint can always create a new look without breaking the bank.? If you are the artistic type, start with a beige building and paint on vines or floral decorations. But if you don?t have the knack for free-hand painting, you can always use stencils and get the same result.
Adding a lean-to with inside access for a small greenhouse will make a garden shed both elegant and functional for your delicate plants. Or, if you organize the contents of the shed, your garden shed can also double as a playhouse for your kids.
Not only can a garden shed be a versatile and practical building but also can create an ambiance encompassing your gardens. Best of all, it does not have to cost a bundle!
Where to Start
If you want instant gratification, you can go to a plant nursery where they?ve nurtured and cared for seeds as they?ve grown into a blooming flower for you to purchase. You can also buy seedlings that you can watch grow and bloom at a later date.
In either case, you will have to transplant the flower or seedling. Winter 2014 has been brutal, so you should know to only transplant when the ground is warm enough ? ideally after the last frost date . If you haven?t had your last frost, you can keep your flower indoors until it?s warm enough to transplant outside.
Do It Yourself
If you want to start from scratch, here?s what you?ll need to get your seeds sprouting:
- ventilated containers
- plastic wrap or covering
You can buy seed starting soil or you can mix it yourself. The soil should be lightly moistened when it?s put in the ventilated container. Too much moisture can cause the seeds to rot. ?Using a garden trowel, dig small holes for each seed with distances between each seed according to your seed packet.? Drop the seeds in each hole and gently cover each seed with soil. Lightly water the soil and cover with plastic wrap to keep moisture in the soil. Place the containers in a warm spot and water only as needed.?When the seeds have sprouted, you can put their containers on a tray that will hold water so the flower will be fed from the bottom up.
Before you transplant your flowers, you can help them get used to living outdoors by letting them sit outside for a few days so that it won?t be such a shock to them when they?re put in the ground.
When you?re ready to give your flower a spot in the yard, water the planting bed, to help your flower take root. You should also water the flower before taking it out of the ventilated container so you can gently ease it out. The root will probably be knotted up in a ball. Try to separate the branches so that they can spread once they?re in the ground.
Dig a hole in the plant bed that?s roughly the same size at the roots. Set the flower in the hole, sprinkle enough soil around the base to keep the flower upright. Moisten the soil again and let your flower grow.
If you want ?perennial flowers to bloom in the spring like irises or tulips, you?ll need to plant the bulbs in the fall.
If you want to have a flower ready to plant on Plant a Flower Day 2015, start your indoor seeding at the end of February ? it takes about a month for the seeds to sprout.
With all the interest in healthier eating, many people want to grow?fruits and vegetables in their own backyards. Having your own supply at your fingertips can help you save money and increase your cooking options; you can also make tending your garden into a family activity. Although it may sound daunting, starting your own garden isn’t that difficult.
Here are some good vegetable and fruit selections for the first-time backyard gardener.
Growing your own salad greens like lettuce, spinach, arugula, mustard green, or kale doesn’t require a garden plot; you can grow a nice selection of greens in containers, pots, or window boxes, too. Using a quality potting mix is important. Greens grow well from seeds, and many garden shops offer seeds with a mix of greens for variety. Most will require some fertilizer when the plants are 4-6 inches tall. Since these are rapid-growing plants, you can often start harvesting leaves a few weeks after planting. Salad green plants can produce from spring until fall, giving your tasty salads for most of the year.
New gardeners love tomatoes, but they’re popular with gardeners in many places where the citizens are health-conscious like Rancho Mission Viejo. There are many versions of slicing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes to choose from. Tomato plants can grow in containers like salad greens or in your yard but do need full sunlight and plenty of water. Seeds or transplants both can be used to start your tomatoes; as they grow, fertilizer, mulching, and staking can help your tomatoes reach their potential.
To control the plant growth and lower the risk of fungus, you’ll need to prune lower leaves and branches. The ripe tomatoes should be harvested twice a week during warm weather.
A less common choice for your first garden would be the radish. These root vegetables are easy to grow and grow very fast in a few weeks. These can grow in containers or in a garden plot; however, they do thrive in cool seasons so you should plant them in the spring and fall. A lot of sunlight is key for these plants. Without it, they’ll grow bigger leaves and fewer vegetables. Radishes will deteriorate if they’re harvested in a timely fashion; you can also take the radish greens for salads, as well.
Green beans are also popular for the first-time gardener. Some beans grow as vines and will need a support system while others may grow as a bush. Green beans also grow during the warm months and need full sunlight and significant amounts of water. When the plants bloom, there will be bees and other insects to help with the pollination. During this time, you should avoid using too much pesticide that might interfere with this process. Green beans can be harvested between 50 and 80 days after planting.
Another fruit that can work for the home gardener is the?strawberry. ?These are spreading plants that send out runners that can take up a lot of space. However, you can grow them in confined spaces like hanging containers, boxes, or pots. No matter where you plant them, you have to make sure they can get full sunlight. If you use a portable container, you can move the plant around to maximize sun exposure or protect from harsh weather. Strawberry plants can produce fruit for several years.
Safe choices for your first garden are herbs like basil, rosemary, coriander, or dill. Many herbs are easy to grow and can be used in a number of dishes and even with your new vegetables. Herbs can be grown in pots, containers, or in your garden plot. Most herbs need to be in areas with good drainage because they don’t grow well in wet soil. You can plant several types of herbs in the same garden; however, some like mint will overgrow your garden.
Of course, your location will influence what items you can grow. But if you take care of your growing garden ? no matter your location ? you can be eating as well as any community. To improve your health and give your kitchen a kick, start your own garden.
We see clearer skies and warmer days ahead, so today?s picks are all about your garden! It?s time to start thinking about the best ways to get things blossoming this year, and LTD Commodities can help! Here are our weekly picks for items to spruce up your garden this spring!
Silhouette With Wagon Planter
Set the right tone in your garden with this perfectly adorable silhouette with wagon planter! You can choose from either a boy riding a tractor or a girl with a bonnet pulling the wagon. You simply attach the silhouette to the planter and it looks like he or she is pulling your planter! We love the cute nostalgic charm this planter brings to the garden, and think everyone should have one on his or her spring decorating list!
Solar Metal Garden Birds
Want to get a little tropical in the yard without resorting to plastic flamingos? How about these cute solar metal garden birds instead? You have the choice of a cool blue peacock or a warm coral flamingo, both with glowing orbs that run on solar power! The panels save up the sunlight during the day, and then the solar power is used to light the orbs at night. This is the perfect addition to gardens that do a lot of evening entertaining!
Boy & Girl on Bench Garden Statue
We just had Valentine?s Day, but how cute is this bench garden statue? Reminiscent of the old Precious Moments knick-knacks, this statue is a cute addition to any garden d?cor. This detailed statue is durable cold cast ceramic, so it will surely outlast every plant in your garden! Set it up near your flowerbeds for the perfect effect.
Hanging Animal Bird Feeders
Do you like the sound of birds chirping in your garden? Are you always trying to feed your feathered friends? Whether you?re a bonafide bird-watcher or not, these great hanging bird feeders are perfect for every bird lover. Coming in a number of different animal shapes, including a frog, fish, and ladybug, these great feeders add the perfect touch of fun to any garden design.
Pocket Hose Ultra
Now that we?ve got the garden d?cor items covered, it?s time to talk about function! We love this pocket hose, which is available in both 50-foot and 75-foot versions. This clever hose features and expanding accordion design, so it fits perfectly in small spaces, but expands when in use. Made from rubber, nylon, and plastic, it is stronger than traditional hoses, and never kinks or knots while you?re trying to use it! When the dry summer weather arrives, you?ll be so glad you ordered one of these!
For many of us, blizzards and snow days abound, with what seems like no end in site. It may feel like the longest winter of all time, but spring is just around the corner! Look at this as a few extra weeks to add a few garden accessories, and make sure your garden is in order for spring. Here are seven tips to prepare your garden for the season of growth!
1) Start a Compost Bin
If you don?t already have one, now is the perfect time to get a compost bin started. You want a balanced mix between yard waste and food scraps. If your yard is barren right now, just get a bin going with food scraps and twigs, and ask for a little hay from a farmer nearby. Be sure to follow the best practices for composting to ensure you have the proper balance.
2) Check Soil Quality
Compost is always a beneficial addition to your garden, but it?s also important to test the quality of your soil to make sure you can grow a garden. Give it a little tilling to add some oxygen to the soil, and check for rocks and hard clay. You can even toss some small vegetables scraps in the actual garden.. Make sure you till it regularly to ensure the decomposition of the pieces, and consider adding a few worms to speed up the process.
3) List and Research Preferred Plants
Whether you?re a pro or a beginner, you probably know that not all plants grow in all climates, so before starting the garden each year or incorporating any new plants, it?s always a good idea to do a little research. Make a list of all the plants you want to grow, and turn it into a chart with sizes, plant spacing, potential pests, amount of sunlight, and times to plant and harvest. It?s never a good idea to just throw a few seeds around an already established garden without at least doing a little research.
4) Make A Blueprint
Now that you know what you want to grow, it?s time to really organize how your garden will look. Sure, last year?s haphazard garden was probably beautiful and great, but that doesn?t mean it was perfectly organized or reasonably spaced. Since you still have a few weeks to go, you?ve got plenty of time to make sure your garden is organized efficiently. Find out which vegetables will fight, and which will grow harmoniously; then space them accordingly. There are lots of amazing tricks for pairing flowers with vegetables to control pests. Got aphids eating your broccoli? Maybe you should plant some dill, marigolds, or calendula. These plants attract aphids to their natural predators, keeping them away from your dinner!
5) Modify and Renovate
If you found that last year?s garden had a few mistakes, adjust them now before the season starts! Build a raised bed for better drainage, add a fence to keep animals out, or buy a beautiful trellis for tomatoes and other vine-like plants. Add a few aesthetic or practical touches that will make this year?s garden the most beautiful yet.
6) Plant a Few Seeds
Yep, you might actually be able to plant a few seeds right now, depending on your climate. It?s February, which means many types of wintry leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, and lettuces will do very well in moderate climates. Pay attention to your average temperature, then to a little research on your area and zones to figure out what you can plant now.
7) Start Plants Indoors
If you?re living in a frozen tundra and still scraping ice off your car every morning, planting a few seeds outside right now might be jumping the gun a bit. Instead, start a few favorite plants indoors. It?s always a good idea to have a portable herb garden to ensure you have fresh herbs year-round. Start with something small that fits 3-5 herbs, and just move the entire box outside when it?s warm, or transport the roots when it?s planting time. You can normally start several plants indoors as well, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant. You?ll be ready for salad season in no time!
Image Source: Care2
It?s time to start thinking about your 2014 spring gardening plans, and what better way to jumpstart your motivation than with a post about garden statues? More specifically, we?re talking about cute little garden gnomes that take care of business and guard the garden and stuff. Everyone needs a gnome, and here?s why!
Well this is just a fact. Garden gnomes, happy, sad, and mischievous, are cute and funny little creatures, and everyone should have one! They watch over your plants, monitor your vegetables, and do absolutely nothing about the weeds. What more could you ask for in a gardener? Seriously, put one of these in the lap of your cranky kid and see what happens.
The Super Bowl is Coming
Wouldn?t you like to display four happy little gnomes spelling out your favorite team?s name? Whether your team remains in the Super Bowl running or not, football season isn?t over until the big game, so keep on showing that team spirit! But seriously, what better way to display your pendant than between two gnomes? Even if you don?t put fan gnomes in the garden, they need to be seen by as many people as possible, so please be sure to use them as the centerpiece on your game day snack table. Thanks.
They Are Instant Friends
How could you ever be lonely with these little guys running around your garden? Well, maybe not running, or interacting, or actually doing, but they?re there, and you can have as many one-sided conversations with them as you want. We do suggest heightening the hedge you share with your neighbors if you decide to have regular chats with the gnomes.
They Help You Avoid People?
Okay, so you don?t always want friends around. Let?s face it; there are times when you really don?t want anything to do with anyone at all. This friendly little grumpy gnome can help. With a solar-powered ?Go Away? sign, your neighbors will leave you alone both day and night!
They Make Life More Fun
And really, that?s what it?s all about, right? A garden gnome is a great addition to your outdoor d?cor. Need a conversation at a BBQ? Garden gnome. Need a babysitter for your dandelions? Garden gnome. Want a distraction for an awkward silence? Garden gnome. So find a gnome you love and welcome it into your garden!
It may be January but that doesn’t stop you from dreaming up new ideas for your garden come spring.
Creating a butterfly garden can be an aesthetically pleasing and impressive addition to your home. Butterflies are beautiful and interesting to watch. By starting your own butterfly garden you are helping these creatures that have had their natural environment deposed by human civilization. Creating an butterfly garden can also be easy to accomplish with some basic planning and follow through. Go through the following steps to help you build a butterfly garden.
Understand What You Are Looking to Accomplish
The point of any butterfly garden is to attract butterflies. To do so it is important to start by planting a garden that will attract butterflies to it. It is often easiest to start by understanding the butterflies that are common in your surrounding area and considering any specific needs or plants that they may be attracted to. Then you can make a list of the different plants that are worth planning in your garden in order to attract them.
Choosing a Location for Your Garden
Next, dedicate an area for your butterfly garden. Butterfly gardens can be as small as a cardboard box to extensive and spread out over several acres. Understand the land size that you have available to dedicate to a butterfly garden and what you are hoping to occur with your butterfly garden. Choose a location for your garden that has close access to water and significant amounts of wildlife nearby.
Plant Your Garden
Once you are knowledgeable about the different types of butterflies in the area and what plants they like, and have a space devoted to your butterfly garden, you can start producing plants for your garden. Try to concentrate on native plants as they will typically grow better than foreign plants and the butterflies you attract will be familiar with the plants. Next learn how to best take care of these plants you are adding to your garden so that your butterflies can drive as well. The goal is to develop an efficient way of caring for your plants so you ultimately care for your butterflies as well by providing them with a quality food source.
Add on the Accessories
Now that you have your butterfly garden planted and ready to go it is time to add on the accessories. There are many items you can add to your butterfly garden including fences to protect your garden from trampling, butterfly houses that provide for an area where butterflies can escape from the extreme wind or cold that may suddenly occur, and an source of nectar that can help to replace the food that butterflies derive from flowers. These accessories can help to provide a better environment for the butterflies and aid in the sustainability of the local butterflies.
Creating a butterfly garden can be quite pleasing and can provide butterflies with a form of heaven on earth. Butterfly gardens are also pleasant for humans and provide places where people can sit back and read, chat, or simply have a cup of tea. Plant a butterfly garden today and develop a fun and interesting way of getting closer to nature by providing an idyllic spot to watch these magnificent creatures.
Today’s guest post was contributed by Zoe White from Cloverlawn Butterflies. Zoe is a southern California native who loves the beach, sports, and trying new foods.
Image Credit: Creative Commons image source