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Category Archives: Garden

Guide on Organic Gardening

The primary equipment for health food growing is to not use the chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides. Natural and organically grown foods command higher prices because they cannot easily be mass-produced and generally require more TLC.

Not only are natural foods more expensive, they are mandatory for people who cannot tolerate many of the chemicals commonly used by the majority of growers today. There are also many people today who feel very strongly about chemicals and are willing to pay extra for all natural products.

The organic grower screens pests from the garden, uses insect repelling plants (like marigolds) and natural enemy insects (praying mantis, ladybugs) and natural, nontoxic pesticides to reduce crop damage.

Some organic growers confine their operation to green houses or shade houses, where control is easier.

Natural foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, dried, frozen or canned foods, as well as seeds, powders and juices.

They can be sold through health stores, directly from your garden roadside stands, or to markets in the area. It is also important to note that processed natural foods are equally as much in demand.

When advertising your organically grown produce, be sure to emphasize the “all natural” aspects, which is one of your best selling points.

Setting up to grow health foods is very much like readying a normal garden, except that you take special care to avoid the use of “forbidden” chemicals.

Fertilizers are restricted to barnyard products and natural plant leftovers which can be combined into an excellent (and low cost) garden fertilizer.

In the natural food garden business, you will soon develop a routine to make your own compost almost exclusively from waste products, plant trimmings, and fruit hulls. All plant parts that are not otherwise used (or diseased) are recycled into compost, along with other materials that you have on hand or can buy inexpensively.

The degree of isolation needed for an organic garden depends on its location. If you live in a hot area, consider a shade cloth enclosure to screen insects as well as the direct rays of a hot sun.

Greenhouse enclosures are often used in the more temperate areas where frost is a consideration.

If your garden is in a relatively insect free and not down wind from fields that are sprayed with commercial chemicals, you may need no special considerations other than some of the accepted insect deterring techniques.

Perhaps the most needed assistance for your organic garden will be compost, which is sometimes called (ironically) artificial fertilizer.

The purpose is to fertilize and simultaneously, add humus (decayed animal and plant matter) to your growing medium.

Depending on the needs of your soil, it may be necessary to add specifics to attain the desired composition.

If you cannot test it yourself, take several small samples from different locations in your garden and have them analyzed.

State universities and some large (especially, chain) nurseries will often provide this service at little or no charge. Call your county agriculture agent to find other sources of soil analysis (and remedial actions that may be unique to your area).

In a commercial operation, you will undoubtedly want to generate at least some of your own compost. You should have at least two compost piles so you can be using one while the other is “working.”

One way to build an inexpensive compost box is to make an enclosure of wood and chicken wire, some 3 feet wide, 15 feet long and perhaps 4 feet high.

Use metal or treated for the four corners and re-enforcing posts every 3-4 feet on the sides. There should be no bottom (just bare soil).

Add the compost materials: dry leaves, grass clippings, cotton hulls, straw, fruit peelings, sawdust, vegetables, and manure (clean sacked is fine) in one foot layers.

Kitchen scraps are usually avoided because they give off odors and attract flies, as are any diseased plant parts. Mix in a shovel full of regular garden soil here and there, along with some hybrid earthworms if available.

Between layers, sprinkle well with some 8-8-8 or 5-10-5 commercial fertilizer (about a pound per square foot of compost surface).

This small amount of commercial chemical doesn’t count as a directly applied chemical. It acts as a catalyst to speed the decomposing action.

Keep the compost pile moist and use a fork to turn and stir the material every few days to help foster decomposition. Add more clippings as the pile shrinks (decomposes).

When restarting a compost pile always leave a couple inches of the old compost on the ground to act as “starter”. Depending on the weather and how well you take care of your compost pile, it should be “ready” in 6 to 8 weeks. Of course, if you use heavier products, such as wood that has gone through a compost machine, it will take a little longer.

Tip: If you can’t afford a compost machine, put leaves and other small clippings into a clean metal garbage can and insert your weed-eater. This won’t work with larger pieces, but does fine with the light material.

Another idea is to mount a barrel so it can be turned daily. Have one made with a door and good latch so it can be turned without its contents falling out. The barrel can either be mounted on rollers or have axles welded on each end and fit into receptacles on a sturdy stand.

Organic gardeners learn which insects and garden denizens are helpers and which are “bad news”. Some may look bad but do a lot of good.

Examples are garden snakes that eat mice and insects, spiders and eat insects, wasps that each roach eggs and lay their eggs in insects, dragon flies, and ground beetles and caterpillars. Other beneficial creatures may be more easily recognized: praying mantis (insects and aphids), ladybugs (aphids, scales, spider mites), bees (pollination), lizards (large quantities of insects), frogs, toads (ditto), pirate bugs (mites, eggs and larvae of other insects), birds (worms, bugs), dragonflies (flies, mosquitoes, etc.).

There are also “organic” pesticides that are used, but one must be very careful not to step over the line to toxic chemicals and lose their “organically grown” label!

As you learn more and more about organic gardening, you will discover many other tricks that work in your area. Some are ironclad rules; others may be debatable, but in the final analysis, what works for you is best for you! Some organic gardeners NEVER plant anything in the same row twice, to reduce the possibility of pests and disease.

For example: Tomatoes are especially sensitive to nematodes (root insects) as well as tomato worms. A crop of tomatoes may be followed by onions of cereal (not regular winter) rye for a winter green fertilizer (turned) under in the spring).

The latter is reputed to kill nematodes which become tangled in the thick rye roots. Many organic gardeners routinely place marigolds and other insect repelling plants between rows and/or 5 castor beans to help repel flies and moles.


Natural vs Artificial Grass

The dry climate makes natural grass very difficult to maintain. Property management companies spend large amounts on water, fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, and mowing to keep the natural grass in good condition. Synthetic grass does not require any of these items. Synthetic turf has special UV coating which protect the lawn against ultraviolet rays.

It is not easy to maintain natural grass. It is a very tedious work. Natural grass requires regular use of fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides. They can cause damage to children, and pets. These have a long term effect on the plants, animals, and air. Artificial turf does not require fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides for maintenance. It does not cause any damage to children, and pets. They provide a safe, healthy environment for families and the public.

Natural grass sports field are not perfectly flat. These can develop dips, mounds, bumps, holes as these are used regularly, which can cause twisted ankles or other injuries. Synthetic lawn is built on top of flat, level ground. Synthetic lawn or sports field is much safer when compared to natural grass, that’s why sports organizations and schools are using synthetic surfaces.

Synthetic turf comes in different lengths, colors and is manufactured to exactly give the same look and feel of Bermuda, bluegrass, centipede or any type of natural grass available. Synthetic turf is soft to touch and does not cause any injuries to children.

Natural grass is much cheaper than synthetic grass. But in long term, the synthetic grass has lower cost when compared to natural grass. Natural grass is a long process, it requires grass seed, watering the grass, fertilizers, lawn feed, pesticides and the labor and time for mow, trim, fill. It requires lot of maintenance. Synthetic turf does not have such a long process. Synthetic lawn can pay for itself within a few years. It does not require that much maintenance.

In lot of countries there is water scarcity. Since there are not adequate rainfalls the homeowners may find it difficult to maintain them. For commercial purposes, like golf courses, retirement communities, and property developments the cost and effort to transport water through pipeline system may be prohibited. Synthetic lawn does not require watering. These remain green regardless of climatic conditions, temperature or other environmental conditions.


Fence Panel

Primarily your choice of fence panel can be split into two distinct areas. The fence panel selected can be used as a security and perimeter measure, or it can be used as a decorative feature. There are a range of fencing panels to suit any of these requirements and below are details on some of these options.

Lap Panels :

These fence panels offer a simple way to identify your gardens perimeter and are available to suit different budgets, but are usually considered the less expensive alternative. These fence panels are normally provided fully framed with batten, except for the cheapest version which can be supplied with no bottom frame.

These garden fence panels offer great choice and as such are used all over the UK and can be supplied in various colours, including light beige, an orangey brown and a dark brown finish. Care must be taken when selecting your fence panel to ensure it is in keeping with current local trends, as well as a similar colour to the associated posts and gravel boards that you may require in order to erect your garden fencing.

Obviously this fence panel range offers great choice and value for money, but like all things in life, you get what you pay for. It should be remembered that as a less expensive fence panel this products life expectancy is short to medium term and is not as strong as some alternatives, so should not be erected in overly exposed areas to wind.

Lap panels are normally 6ft wide and are available in a range of heights including 3ft, 4ft, 5ft and 6ft.

Closeboard Panels :

This variety of fence panel offers a more solid solution to that of the lap panel and its construction offer a more sturdy solution for your garden fencing. This panel has a medium to long term life expectancy and is able to cope with a higher wind loading volume than the lap panel.

Like the lap panel these fence panels can be supplied in a range of colours and sizes.

Grange Elite Panels :

This range of fence panel offers a much more decorative finish to your garden than either the lap or closeboard fence panel.

As opposed to the standard looks of either the lap or closeboard panels, the grange elite panels come in a variety of styles, including a lattice finish or curved top. These panels offer great choice and can be used on a mix and match basis to compliment your gardens overall look and feel.

These fence panels are easy to erect and either side can be used as the face side. The only small drawback to these fence panels are a limited height range.


Tips to Pick Plants For Your Koi Garden

Lotus Plants

Undoubtedly, since your pond contains Koi, a tropical fish, you may want to keep with the theme and place Lotus plants in your pond. Pretty much everyone with a tropical water garden will want a Lotus plant because the beauty is simply unmatched by other flowers.

Lotus plants provide beautiful blooms, and a smell that is unmatched. However, unless you live in an area that sustains temperatures higher then 65 degree Fahrenheit, you will need to have to have a place to house your Lotus plants during the colder months. A greenhouse setup specifically for water plants will work the best.

Lotus plants require soil, and a large amount of sunlight. They should be planted in water about 2 to 3 feet deep during the warmer months, and indoors during the colder months.

Water Hyacinths

If you simply do not have the time to plant and maintain your water garden’s foliage, or you are somewhat lazy when it comes to gardening, you may want to consider adding Water Hyacinths. Water hyacinths have become very popular recently because of their simplicity. They do not require any type of soil or planting, you must simply throw them into the water. Only minimal time is needed to anchor them down so that they do not float all over the pond freely.

Water Hyacinths are not only pretty, but are also very functional as well. These plants aid in the fight against both algae and blanket weeds.

One downside when having Water Hyacinths is the fact that they will take over your pond and yard if you allow them. Water hyacinths are very invasive, and will spread if allowed. In extreme cases, it may even jump the fence and take over the neighbors yard as well. Once they have caused this kind of infestation, it is notoriously difficult to get rid of them.

Hidden But Functional Plants

Alternatively, you may want to consider investing in plants that are not necessary seen. These plants live below the water line, and provide many needed functions to your pond. Some help you battle algae, put oxygen back into the water, or feed your fish for you.

You can find these plants in bundles at your local pet store or Koi dealer. The majority of underwater plants will not need additional support during the winter, so once you place them in the water, you may not think twice about them again. However, the benefits that you gain from having these types of plants make up for the fact that you are not able to actually see them.


Landscaping Ideas

1. Trees.
Apart from the fact that most trees are “set and forget”, i.e. plant them, water them, but largely leave them to their own devices; trees, whether a single specimen tree, or a stand or copse of them, add a focal-point to a garden. Depends on what it is you are after – somewhere to sit in the shade; something to contemplate – a particular tree of beauty; somewhere for the kids to play; maybe as the back-drop to the rest of the garden.

2. Ground-covers.
Plants with a growing habit that covers the ground, such as thyme, chammomile, or pennyroyal – make good lawn alternatives. Those plant names are often preceded with the word “lawn”. There are many forms of daisy’s that can cover a considerable amount of ground, in a short space of time – Osteospermum, or African Daisy comes easily to mind. Although in need of a bi-annual prune, the flower show far outweighs this small task. VERY hardy. Many colours.

Violets – Violets are VERY hardy little things, able to tolerate quite a range of growing conditions. If you plant half a dozen of these, by next year they will have re-seeded all over the place. Normally planted in the shade, they fair well in half sun situations. TIP: Once they finish flowering, either mow or whipper-snip them, down to the base – VERY short. This is because, in order to flower well the following season, after each flowering they need sun-light on the base stems.

Mesembryanthem, or Pig Face – Strikingly vibrant, almost florescent, orange/red/yellow flowers, succulent stems, leaves are greyish green, flowers are daisy like, and open in the full sun. Can be established in near desert situations, even in rock-walls.

Bacopa, or Snowflake – Perennial ground cover, flowers being white or blue and tubular with expanding lobes. Scented leaves, good plant for the shade.
Nasturtium – Round waxy leaves that hold the morning dew, profuse flowering from red through to yellow, and everything in between. A fast growing annual – leaves, flowers, even seed-pods can be eaten and or pickled – a nice pepper alternative.

3. Water Features.
Water features such as fountains, fish-ponds, or still-water-ponds, are a marvelous addition to your landscape. Not only pleasing to the eye but also helps aid relaxation, through the soothing sounds created.

4. No-Cost Plants.
Well, this is an easy one. Friends, family, or neighbors, are your best source of no-cost plants for your landscape. By this, I mean cuttings and or seeds. Most, but certainly not all, plants can be reproduced by taking cuttings. If you think this is too difficult regarding your experience – try something like geraniums. Now, I use this example as, if you have never taken and planted cuttings before – it is hard to fail with geraniums. Not the big, flashy, floppy flowering Pelargonium – these are generally a little more difficult to get going.
O.K. let us do this. Cuttings should be about 6 inches long and about three eighths of an inch thick. There should be at least one leaf on this cutting – not for any magical-gardening-type-reasons, more because if this IS your first time, the leaf tells you which way is up when you plant it. With this particular plant, the cutting can be left for up to 3 days, before it needs to be planted (yet another fine reason to choose this particular plant). If you do not already have an established piece of garden to plant into, get a pot and some potting-mix. In either case, make a hole one third as deep as the cutting is long – with your finger, or a pencil, put the cutting in that hole and firm the soil around the cutting. Water it. Sit down, relax. Congratulate yourself – you are now a gardener.


Tips to Caring for Trees

The first step is watering the trees. You don’t want to over-water, nor do you want to under-water. You have to find the perfect balance between drought and soaking. If you have young trees, that balance will involve more frequent watering than if you have older trees. Older trees only require watering during extremely hot periods. During those times, they will require a deep, thorough watering at least once a week, but when it is cooler if not damp, they need nothing but nature.

You also want to fertilize your trees, particularly if you have experienced drought, infestation or disease. Doing this once a year will ensure that your trees continue to grow and encourage flowering. The best times for fertilization are in the early spring or late fall. To know what kind of fertilizer to use and how to apply it, contact a local tree specialist with experience in your climate and tree-type.

Finally, you want to prune your trees. Pruning will allow your trees to take on a manageable shape and grow to their full potential. You’ll want to start by removing any small dead or dying branches. Then, get rid of branches that appear to be too heavy to remain in the air. This will not only help the tree but you as you continue pruning, as it will limit the possibility that a branch could fall and strike you during work.

When you make the first cut, cut a foot or so from the trunk of the tree. Make a second cut a few inches out from the first. If it’s a large limb, it should fall on its own and you can remove the remaining stub at the edge of the branch collar, or bulging area where the branch meets the trunk. From there, the wound you have created by removing the branch should callus over without decay. You should not need a wound dressing, unless something has gone wrong in the pruning process.

Whatever you do, you do not want to top a tree, meaning you don’t want to take shears to the top of the tree cutting off everything sticking up beyond a certain point, unless you absolutely have to. This act usually stunts the shape of a tree and takes away from aesthetics.

Your trees should be assets to your yard – they should be something you are proud of. Take care of them with proper watering, fertilizing and pruning, and they will be.


Artificial Grass History

In the 1950’s the Ford Foundation realized that the urban people were not as physically fit as their rural counterparts and wanted to improve their fitness levels. A subsidiary of the Monsanto Industries, the Chemstrand Company made a synthetic fiber that was used in carpets. These carpets were used in schools. This was a joint venture of Monsanto industries and the Ford Foundation’s Educational Facilities Laboratory, whose head was Dr. Harold Gores. Dr. Gores suggested that the company Chemstrand make artificial playing fields.

In the 1960’s Monsanto Industries made a nylon fiber that was filled in carpets. This came to be known as ‘Astroturf’ and has since been used in playing fields. The research wing of Chemstrand did a lot of research on the artificial turf’ to test its cushioning effect, effect of weather, drainage, wear and tear and flammability. The first installation of artificial grass was at Moses Brown School at Providence, Rhode Island in the year 1964. It was called ‘Chemgrass’.

In 1965 Astrodome is built at Houston, Texas by Judge Roy Hofheins. He consults with Monsanto Industries about replacing natural grass with artificial grass. In 1966 the Astro’s baseball season starts on ‘Chemgrass’ the artificial grass which was now named ‘Astroturf’ at Astrodome. The same year The Houston Oilers’ play football on ‘Astroturf’ at Astrodome. In 1967, Indiana State University at Terre Haute, Indiana becomes the first outdoor stadium to have ‘Astroturf’.

James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright of Monsanto Industries co invented ‘Asroturf’. They applied for the patent on 25th December 1965 and got in on 25th July 1967.

In the 1970’s the artificial turf was mainly made of polypropylene. They were sand filled carpets. These had lower pile density than the original ones made by ‘Astroturf’.

In the 1986 the Astroturf Industry Inc. was formed. Nylon carpets were used for field hockey and American football. Sand filled turf was used for recreational and other sports activities. Shockpads wee introduced to reduce injuries. Even then, the turf was too fast and too harsh for any type of sports involving contact.

The 1990’s saw the new type of artificial grass. This had long nylon fibers for grass and was filled wither with sand or rubber granules. This allowed for more air circulation, more cooling and less impact on falling. This is called the 3rd generation of Artificial Turf.

Soccer, rugby and hockey have always been played on natural grass. Other alternatives have been thought of such as clay and sand. Artificial turf has developed greatly over the years. In the last few years there have been many improvements and it has been used in many playing fields. The best part of it is that it can be used 24/7 without there being any change in the players performance.

The earlier versions were not too good to look at and were not that safe. Today with a lot of research done on it, it is liked for a variety of reasons. It is good to look at throughout the year. It is easy to maintain. It is environment friendly and does not need watering. It is safe as a playing area. The whole family including the children, the elders and the pets love it.

It can be used in the front of the house as a lawn, or in the backyard. It can be used in the kennel or pet area. It is great to use it in schools and playing fields. With it having many advantages over natural grass, it is definitely good to use it.


Indoor Gardening Choices

While specific aeroponics or hydroponics supplies are needed to get started, it is important to understand how each form of gardening works before shopping for equipment.

Aeroponics is the only form of plant cultivation that does not involve a growing medium. Roots are left exposed to misted air that is rich in nutrients. Plants are grown in a totally or partially closed environment, such as an aeroponics cloner (used to propagate from cuttings) to contain this mist. Some believe that delivering nutrients to this manner brings greater amounts of oxygen to the roots which in turn better stimulates growth. Additionally, it is believed that plants are less susceptible to disease when cultivated in such a closed environment.

Gardening with hydroponics systems, on the other hand, involves using a mineral rich solution for growing medium. Some hydroponic grow systems feature the growing solution alone, while others may include an inert medium such as gravel or perlite as well. In either case, nutrients are absorbed by the roots from the growing solution. Neither soil nor a medium is required by hydroponics systems as the roots can conduct everything needed by the plant directly from the growing solution.

Getting started

To begin gardening with either technique, it is important to have all the necessary aeroponics or hydroponics supplies on hand. To ensure nothing is missing, purchasing a complete assembly is a wise decision.

There are many different types of hydroponics grow systems, such as wick, ebb and flow, drip, nutrient film technique and deep water culture system. While there are operational differences between these hydroponics systems, they share similar components. A growing tray or basket and air pump are all used in some manner. In some hydroponics systems, the liquid reservoir is contained within the growing tray, but in other models it is a separate component.

It’s important to remember that once you have all the hydroponics supplies in place, your indoor garden will still need a lighting assembly to create the ideal environment.


Why Garden Fencing is Installed?

People install garden fencing for a variety of reasons. The most common purpose of the standard garden fence is to clearly mark the boundaries of the property, but can also be used cleverly to break up the outdoor space into smaller parts, perhaps depending on what the different areas of the garden will be used for, potentially making it easier to maintain.

Many people prefer to plant trees of different types separately. You can install fencing to keep your Agapanthus well separated from Amaryllis and Lilly. Distinct areas for different flowers and trees look great.

If you plan to place a garden table with chairs, a swing, aquarium and/or fountain in the lawn, why not discuss this with the fencing product supplier and ask for their suggestions. Garden fencing can be designed specifically for the needs of the users. Custom fence panels and fence posts can be used together to form an attractive fencing surround for your garden or lawn.

You can choose the fencing material that goes best with your garden furniture, patio awning, deck furniture and the exterior of your home. Most people prefer using wood as the garden fencing material.

Wood garden fencing:

Wooden fence panels, fence posts and garden gates assign a natural look to your garden.

Post and rails, wire netting, chainlink, hurdles, timber palisade, chestnut paling, closeboard, closeboard panels, and lap panels are other common types of garden fencing that are available.

Bamboo fencing:

Bamboo is also often used for garden fencing and screening as well as landscaping. Bamboo fence panels and posts look attractive and are available in a wide range of designs, colors, styles and textures.

Border edging:

Wire netting, post and rails, chainlink and different types of mesh are commonly used for border edging. Wire garden fences or mesh are helpful to outline curvy and rounded borders of your garden and they are also quite attractive too when done properly.

Net, wire or mesh can also be used to protect a newly planted tree from animal or bird attacks. Planters or recently planted trees are often surrounded with wires or nets in the middle of the garden for this purpose.


Aeroponic Gardening

Interestingly, this form of plant cultivation does not require any sort of growing medium. Instead, the plants’ entire root system is exposed within a heavily misted environment. This mist is not basic water alone; rather it is supplemented with a rich supply of nutrients. The roots easily absorb this food supply and transfer it throughout the entire plant structure.

About aeroponic cloning

While typical hydroponics systems may be used for virtually any stage of plant growth, aeroponics works best for a specific type of cultivation. Because the root system drives this form of gardening, the greatest success is possible when working from plant cuttings. In a nutshell, new plants are generated from a single source plant in a process known as aeroponic cloning. For the best results, cuttings should be taken below the second node of a healthy plant. They are then transferred into an aeroponic system known as an aeroponic cloner.

The basics of aeroponics systems

In order to contain the nutrient-rich mist upon which successful aeroponic gardening depends, a totally or partially closed environment is needed. While there are design variations between aeroponics cloner systems, as is the case with hydroponic supplies, the basic components are the same from model to model.

Systems for aeroponic cloning all feature some sort of chamber or reservoir. This component contains the plants and provides the environment in which the cultivation occurs. In addition, some sort of pumping mechanism is required in an aeroponic cloner. This device ensures the plants are exposed to an evenly distributed supply of liquid and nutrients. As a result, the entire crop is more likely to grow at a consistent rate. The final necessity in an aeroponics gardening system is a timer. It guarantees that the nutrient rich environment remains consistent during the entire cultivation cycle.