Soil Care: 4 +1 Tips for Soil and Garden Health

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 31-01-2013

lupin, cover cropAs you must have noticed by now, I am mostly concerned with the creation and maintenance of gardens that follow, as much as possible, the rules established by nature itself for its healthy and balanced development.

One of the most important – if not the most important – among the elements contributing to the creation of a beautiful, thriving garden is the good health of the ground on which the plants grow. You will see me insisting on this point, because soil is a living organism, and it needs the presence of several conditions to be able to nurture other living organisms — your plants.

Each and every material we add to the soil plays a specific role in the life cycle of plants by covering one or more of their various needs. The purpose of these additional materials is

  • to provide (or to assist the provision of) much needed nutrients;
  • to contribute to better aeration of the ground, thus helping the oxygenation of the roots;
  • to help with moisture retention;
  • to avoid extreme temperature conditions (heat or cold, depending on the season) that would hurt the root system;
  • to help prevent diseases and other situations that could prove harmful for your plants.

Let’s take a closer look to these components of a healthy soil:

Humus

Humus is a degraded organic material that has reached a certain point of stability in which no further breakdown can take place, thus leaving it unscathed for a long period of time. It is identified with topsoil horizon composed of organic materials, and it can also be described as mature compost naturally occurring, e.g. in forests, and is added to gardens with the purpose of amending soil.

Have you ever seen a cross section of garden soil, with some of its layers displaying a dark brown or black characteristic color? Well, that’s humus.

We could differentiate humus from organic matter by its appearance, which is more uniform and reminds of a dark, spongy, jelly-like substance.

Humus is usually tagged as the life-force of the soil. Now, this so-called life force can occur via a process known as humification which can take place via natural means with the soil itself or by compost production.

Humus significantly improves the structure of the soil. It contributes to the retention of soil moisture by adding up to its microporosity, and facilitates easy access and absorption of plant nutrients by incorporating oxygen into the organic molecules that are charged with transferring the said nutrients to plants. This makes plants stronger and more resistant to plant diseases.

Compost

Compost should serve as a significant and wise replacement or substitution for chemicals and commercially available fertilizers. You can easily and conveniently produce natural and organic fertilizer right at your own backyard or at the garden.

Things to know about making your own compost:

  • Always remember to use organic or biodegradable materials that will naturally and easily decompose for your compost.
  • Be sure to prepare the bedding appropriately. To do so, just put shredded fallen leaves, aged manure, chopped up straw and dead seaweed, plants, compost and sawdust.
  • Keep the compost bed moist all the time. You can do so by watering the area at least twice a day, one in the morning and another before night falls. To retain moisture, you can put shredded cardboard or newspaper on top of the area or heaps of hays or dried leaves.
  • Keep the bedding protected from possible attacks and intrusion from animals, insects and other possible predators like birds, ants and rats.
  • Encourage and promote growth and multiplication of earthworms. Red worms are most ideal for outdoor vermicomposting; they are usually found in aging manure and in compost heaps. It is not advisable to use dew worms or those large sized worms usually found in composts and soils as they would not likely survive outdoor composting.

Mulching

Click here to see what mulching is. Mulch is used to cover the soil’s surface in order to

    • prevent and control weed growth;
    • protect the soil and the root system from extreme heat – that would otherwise lead to evaporation and drying of the ground, depriving plants from valuable moisture during summer – and freeze – that would irreversibly damage plant tissues and destroy the plant;
    • provide nutrients for plants, when organic matters are used for the covering of the ground;
    • embellish the flower beds with application of decorative elements of various colors and textures.

You can use either organic (bark chippings, crushed cocoa shell, grass clippings, chopped wheat straw, well-rotten farmyard manure, leaf mould, sawdust, pine needles, peat moss, shredded newspapers and cardboards) or inorganic (gravel, grit, crushed or tumbled glass, crushed lava rocks or bricks, rubber, geotextiles) materials to cover the ground.

Cover Crops

Another elegant, practical, beneficial way to protect and enrich soil is to sow low-growth annual, biennial, or perennial plants, also called cover crops, or green manure. They are usually grasses, legumes (esp. the pea group), and broadleaves. If chosen wisely, they will benefit greatly your garden. You can also grow several types of these together, and get a more appealing visual effect with the same advantages. Cover crops improve and enhance the soil by:

      • providing nutrients and other beneficial substances, thus increasing fertility;
      • regulating ground moisture, providing shade;
      • being incorporated into the ground by means of tillage, which will increase content of the soil in certain elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, etc); doing this before maturity of the plants will prevent future growth from seeds;
      • forming symbiotic relationships with rhizobia bacteria, useful in the process of nitrogen availability.
          Plus, they make handsome garden features.

Garden soil is a living organism (do I repeat myself?) sustaining living organisms (yes, I do). If you’re trying to grow healthy foods for consumption, you’ve got to take care of your soil. There are several techniques for dealing with annoying and harmful situations in the garden, such as biological pest control (the plants’ wars).

Proper drainage is another important issue in what concerns soil health, and there are several reasons for this: root rot, poor garden image, pooling, and flooding. [Read more here]

Creating a Beautiful Outdoor Ambiance through Landscape

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in landscaping | Posted on 10-01-2014

Outdoor AmbienceDid you ever imagine yourself in a beautiful garden with all the ornaments and breath-taking sights right outside your doorstep? In a world where everything seems fast paced, there’s a little chance that you can get a relaxation or be engaged in any stress-free activities.

An amazing landscape has been proven to lessen the stress of a person. There’s really a great impact of seeing an amazing scenery right after you open the door. Breathing into the freshness of air, the coolness that plants bring you, and the beauty of blooming flowers greeting you a happy morning.

Have a vacant yard in front of your house? Why don’t you turn it into a wonderful sight to make way to release your stress at the end of the day or to have an inspiration to start your busy day? You have the power to create a beautiful landscaping design to your garden.

Make a Plan or Design for Your Landscape

You need to sketch or draw fixed features of your house or yard like your pool, garage, walkways and other permanent fixtures. You should also consider the impact of placement of plants and furniture on home systems like on pipes, gutters, roofing materials, etc. Make sure that you don’t harm any passer-by.

Use Available Spaces and Consider the Sunlight

The space will dictate how many plants and other elements you will put on every side of your landscape. This will also dictate how big or small the plants should be or what kind of plants you should use.

Plants should be placed on areas where they can have sunlight and where their growth will not be hampered. There are plants that need a lot of sunlight and there are some that need just a little.

Designing Techniques

This is where the use of certain kinds of plants is considered. There are certain plants that should be used so as the theme of your landscape will not be destroyed. The colors of plants and shrubs should really be considered. To have a wonderful landscape, colors of the elements you use as well should be well-coordinated. Lighting should also be considered. These should be put in places where it will give your garden a “magnificent” look every night.

If you have available space, you can create a little pond, an artificial waterfall or fountain to make it more dramatic. You can also put decorative stones and plants that won’t cover the design of the pond, waterfall or fountain. This can indeed be a place of tranquility and peace.

Pathways and walkwaysUnique Patios and Walkways

There are a wide array of patios and walkways that you can use. Certain walkways are needed to enhance the beauty of the garden. Deciding on what color, what design or what style to use would depend on your taste but the beauty of your landscape should not be compromised.

Creating a beautiful landscape depends on the combination and matching of all elements. All should be well-coordinated and should be arranged so as to give a harmonious theme on the color and style that you want to see in your garden. Designing one is not that difficult, if you have the heart for art. Create inviting and appealing landscapes through your own effort and design.

The art of landscaping need not be done by professionals or landscape architects. You can have your own built from your own ideas and imagination which will give an authentic look and not just a commercial one. Seeing a beautiful garden because of your own efforts is much more rewarding feeling compared to letting someone else do it for you.

How to Create a Shady Garden

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 10-12-2013

Most plants thrive well under the sun so what happens on those shady areas outside your house? You can’t keep them barren and unattended or else it will just ruin the outdoor beauty of your place. There are lots of plant varieties that grow well in cool areas and don’t need the direct heat of the sun.

Small homes in urban areas are mostly surrounded by tall buildings and walls which makes it hard for the sun to penetrate the ground. Creating a garden in shady spots can be challenging but it’s worth all the effort and time afterwards.

Best Plants in Shades

Making a good garden in shady portions of your front house may seem daunting but it is not impossible. The secret of this garden is choosing the best plants that grow well in this kind of environment.

  • Camelias – most shrubs and flowering plants in shady areas are actually vibrant and exciting. This variety of plant has glossy, dark green foliage which complement its pink, orange and white blooms.
  • Toad Lily – this is a perennial that grows easily all year round. This looks good on its white flowers towering massive low shrubs.
  • Ajuga – this plant is known for its massive and glossy foliage with blue flowers. It spreads easily, perfect for large shady areas.
  • Hostas – this is the most common plants found in shady gardens. They showcase their dominant large leaves which are available in dark green, blue and gold shades. Also, they are easy to grow and sturdy, ideal for zone 3-8 areas.
  • Evergreen Ferns – among the many favorites of gardeners, nobody can miss this foliage. They grow superbly in shady areas, whether in pots, beds or planters. Its leaves seem to be soft and waving, adding texture for an appealing garden setting.
  • Bleeding Heart – this unique plant has a heart-shaped flower dripping. Its tiny blossoms are usually the highlight in the shady garden. It comes in other varieties so you can choose which one suits your garden theme.

Categorize the Level of Shade

When planning to create a lovely garden in an area where light is not available, and before choosing the type of plant to consider, it is best to determine the degree of shade. This way you can properly recognize which plants will grow healthy in the kind of environment and situation.

  • Light Shade – this is the usual scenario if you house is beside a high wall. The garden is open but the shadow of the tall wall or trees cover most of the area.
  • Partially Shaded – this setting is where the sun supplies light in the area at least 3-4 hours a day.
  • Severely Shaded – this is in a scenario when the entire area is covered by shades or shadows, the sun can’t penetrate to give light.

There are limitless ways to create your own garden at home regardless of the setting and scenario. It actually depends on your creativity on how to input genuine ideas on your garden to make it appear brighter even without the presence of the sun. These lovely flowers in cool areas are usually the most fragrant and appealing – this is nature’s way of balancing things out. So keep in mind to always choose a variety of plant that is appropriate on the degree of shades in your garden.

Basic Home Gardening Tips

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 10-11-2013

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Green leafy vegetables and other healthy produce have become expensive nowadays.  With the current status of the economy, prices will not go down any time soon. If you are worried about not being able to eat healthy produce because of its price, why not try growing your own.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a homeowner or an apartment renter. Homegrown vegetables can be planted in a vacant lot in your backyard or in small pots. These pots can be chosen from a wide variety. They are suited for those people who rent apartments and do not have enough space for vegetable gardening.small garden box

How to Make a Small Garden Box

If you are a homeowner with a vacant space in their yards, you can try to make a small outdoor garden. This can be as small as four square feet. A small vegetable garden will allow you to easily manage it. Here are some tips on how to make your small garden box:

  • Location. This is the first thing to consider in making your small garden. Ideally, the location of a small garden should receive 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. It should also be clear of shrubs and trees that might interfere in your plants’ growth. The location should also be far from puddles and should not have excess moisture. The garden should also be close to your house. This will make it a lot easier for you to do your gardening.

  • Create a plan. Remember that you are making a small garden. Always think within the area of a 4×4 foot square. This will help you decide which plants to choose according to their size and produce.

  • Choose the material for the box frame. Any material can be used to make the box frame of your small garden. However, do not use treated wood as it contains chemicals that could go deep into the soil. You can try visiting a lumber yard and ask for a suitable lumber to use. You can also have it cut for little or no cost at all.

  • Nourish your garden box. You can do this by mixing 1/3 compost, 1/3 course grade vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss. There are organic varieties to choose from to ensure that your garden is chemical free. You can also make your own compost. You can use this to fill boxes and cover afterwards.

  • Create the grid. After you have nourished the soil and covered the compost for two weeks, you can now put the grid. This can be made shorter for it to fit in the box. This will keep make your garden easy to manage and organize. You can choose from materials including wood, plastic strips and nylon rope so long as it does not contain any chemicals.

What to Plant in Your Vegetable Garden

homegrown vegetablesThere are numerous vegetables to choose from for your vegetable garden. You can choose from cabbage, lettuce and even squash. Eggplants and tomatoes are also good choices and bring produce shortly. You can also plant chili that would look good after it bears produce.

The produce you get out from the vegetables you plant is healthier compared to what you buy from supermarkets. You are also assured that no harmful chemicals were added to enhance the growth of your vegetables. Make sure that you start planting during the summer. This will make it successfully thrive. However, start making your garden box at the end of the winter when frost is already minimal. This would allow you to start planting right away when winter finally ends.

 photo credits: serenejournalJames P. Mann

Edging and Path: Two Ways you Bring Beauty to Landscaping

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in landscaping | Posted on 10-10-2013

You have chosen the right plants for your vegetation, appropriate flowers for your flower beds and you may have added some water features so now it is time to focus on your garden edging. It can be achieved in different ways such as gathering rocks or seek the help of a skilled mason to build your garden a brick wall. Whatever your plan is for your garden, it is essential to install your garden edging for a more attractive landscape.

Types of Garden Edging

Garden is simply explained as the frame you create around the perimeter of your garden. This is very essential for your privacy and also for your plants not to go overboard your property. Hardware stores sell fences and rocks that you can use for your garden edging.

If you want to achieve an aesthetic edge, then you can make use of decorative concrete. They are beautiful and durable but a bit expensive. You can also make use of plants as your edge but it takes a while for the plants to grow fully and become strong edge.

Whatever type of design you want to incorporate in your garden, edging is one element you should not ignore. Make sure to give your time and effort in making the best out of your landscape.

Importance of Garden Paths

Now that you have established your garden edging, it is time to make your garden paths. People might perceive your garden as a closed or private area since you put up the borders but to make them feel welcome to your backyard, you can incorporate pathways from your gate leading up to your garden and your house.

It makes the visitor feel welcome in your beautiful landscape. Garden paths are easier than the garden edging.

Although garden walls are good drainage system, garden paths are also used to keep the water away from your garden. Stone, gravel and concrete are the common materials utilize to make pathways. Also they prevent weeds to invade your plants.

You can also incorporate path covers around your garden so your guests can venture out to your paradise. The path may lead up to a gazebo, a garden patio or a garden fountain. Garden pathways are also used around the pool so you won’t get easily slip when it is wet.

Make sure you have set the budget for this project. If you want to save then you have to do the edging and pathways at the same time. So the materials, labor, expenses and time will all be reduced and you have a garden that is not only attractive but also private.

Garden edging can protect your property and garden 24/7 so you are assured no wildlife will get into your backyard and might damage your garden. You must choose materials that are durable and can withstand extreme weather.

On the other hand, garden paths serve as your guest’s guide towards your house or your garden. Make sure to lead you paths to focal points of the garden so your visitors will truly enjoy what you have done with your landscape.

Garden edging and garden paths both have aesthetic and functional purposes for your landscape but one must be very careful in choosing the designs that will blend well with your garden. These two hardscapes play important roles for the beautification and improvement of your garden.

Easy Ways to Make Organic Fertilizers at Home

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 09-09-2013

Organic is trendy. It is important to use organic materials in all our ways. In gardening, organic fertilizer is the best option – free, practical and earth-friendly. Actually, for gardening life to be simple and easy, buying ready-made fertilizer is a good choice. However, organic waste compost really has more advantages and plants are sure to flourish.

This article will mainly discuss how to create your own organic compost at home. The entire process is fascinating, and once you’ll get the hang of it you will be interested to keep doing it all over again.

Good Composting Waste Materials

The process behind composting is through nature. The secret behind composting is the good mixture of ingredients. Any biodegradable material when left alone will surely decompose on its own but with the right mixture, once moisten and aerated the process will happen faster.

  • Brown Materials – to create a good mixture, brown materials are important. These include shredded cardboard, paper cartons, branches, clippings, twigs, leaves and newspapers.
  • Green Materials – another element needed for the mixture are the green materials. Examples of which are manure, egg shells, rotten fruits, plants, flowers and vegetable wastes.
  • Water – for the process to happen, it has to be moist. Ensure that the pile won’t dry up – the water should be enough but not too much to create sticky wastes.
  • Activators – this is usually added to the mixture for the process to speed up also to add more nutrients to the compost. Previous compost or chicken manures are considered as activators. However, if you don’t have one ready, dog and cat foods are good activators as well.
  • Active Organic Matter – dark crawlers or earthworms are perfect examples of this.

Learn the Proper Way of Mixing

For starters, learning is quite tough and sometimes you may feel frustrated while learning the entire process. But you have to remember that nature’s way of decomposition may take some time. Do your homework, research and read.

Hot or Cold Compost

People that manage their compost pile well are producing hot compost, it cooks as the pile decompose. It doesn’t matter how small or large your compost pile is, as long as the mixture is well-balanced, you will produce good result.

Turning is Optional

Some books will suggest that turning the heap regularly will spread the oxygen evenly, producing good compost. For bigger piles this might be true, but actually as long as the pile is kept moist it will just aerate as it shrinks. Better reason for piles to be turned is checking if materials are moisten enough and as the materials become sensitive, turning them will help crushed to full maturity.

Composting Indoors

It is possible to perform composting indoors through captive earthworms. The process is called vermicomposting. Vermicomposting containers can be kept indoors for easy decomposition of papers and food scraps. This is not messy, composting is actually hassle-free.

During harvest time, get handfuls of material from the bottom of the container. Place the compost in a cone-shaped bucket and place it in a bright area. Two hours later, worms will go down the cone bucket. Scoop the 2/3 of the material and make sure to return the worms for future use.

Composting Livestock Manure

When using this material, make sure that you are one hundred percent sure that it is safe. Be cautious because at some point animal manure contains E.coli bacteria. However, these bacteria are eliminated by microorganisms present in the compost. It is always safe to check if all materials are properly decomposed to inhibit spreading of diseases.

At home, there are lots of wastes that can be recycled and can be used as part of the compost mixture. Be aware and be practical.

Important Tools in Starting Up Your Own Garden

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 12-08-2013

When deciding to create your own garden, it is important that you know what tools to use and what things to prepare before starting up. Right set of garden tools will make your garden experience easy, fun and rewarding. There are several tools that every gardener should have to be able to accomplish a garden of his own. If you have some working buddies with you, that would mean easier tasks to accomplish but if you are working on your own, then here are some tips to follow.

Get Ready With the Supplies

Starting is never easy, but once you begin with the project everything will follow smoothly. You need to prepare all the needed tools so you won’t go back and forth inside the house looking for that missing piece.

  • Garden Fork and Steel Rake – These two are perfect combination to clean up the garden beds and to filter out unnecessary compacted rocks. You have to be careful when using these tools because the handles tend to break easily if you put too much pressure on them.
  • Spade and Shovel – These tools are must-have when starting. These are usually used to dig and pick up loose material.
  • Trowel – This hand tool is designed to dig holes, mix soils and easy transplanting. It is available in different sizes depending on the gardener’s need. So keep one that is comfortable in your hands.
  • Garden Gloves – A good set of quality garden gloves is essential to ensure that your hands won’t get hurt from sticks, sharp stones, cuttings and thorns. There are varieties of gloves available to choose from, so it depends which one fits you.
  • Stirrup Hoe – This is the perfect tool in tilling the soil and the easiest one to use in weeding the garden.
  • Garden Pruners and Shears – There are actually different sizes and styles of pruners and shears. Gardeners collect them for easy cutting of shrubs, flowers and foliage.
  • Kneeling Pads and Garden Kneeler – This tool may not be as important as the others but can help in doing gardening tasks a lot easier. This is to protect the knees as gloves protect the hands. This is used to make planting and weeding easier and it comes in different styles to provide comfort to the user.

Plan, Plan, Plan!

Before starting your garden, a concrete plan is important to give you a guide on what plants to use, what will be the division and where to plant them. A simple graph on a paper will do as long as it serves its purpose. A plan will also help you save time and money.

Choose the Right Seedlings

If you decided on creating a vegetable garden, you will feel the reward of your labor if you prefer to plant easy to grow vegetables. Consider a seedling that grows in any type of weather so you won’t have a hard time maintaining them. But if you choose to plant flowers, take time to grow them as they are more sensitive and susceptible to various plant diseases.

Ask and You Will Be Answered

Do not hesitate to ask farmers if there are some questions that boggle your mind. Read books, visit helpful websites and subscribe to gardening magazines to help you out in this task. Also, if you have time to visit a nursery, go and check one out since they always have the right plants for everyone.

Making your own garden can be a no-sweat job as long as you have the right tools and ideas. Do not be disheartened if some of your plants do not grow the way they should, you’ll learn and become a better gardener along the way.

How to Prepare your Organic Garden?

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 29-05-2013

organic gardeningOrganic garden has attracted many gardeners today. They can create their own garden where herbs, vegetables and fruits are planted. It is either for personal consumption or profit.

In organic gardening, you don’t use pesticides, chemicals and other synthetic materials. You just let nature be in charge and allow plants to grow naturally, just use the materials Mother Nature has provided.

Many gardeners prefer this type of gardening because of the health benefits and you can greatly save money in having your own organic garden. However, organic farming is a little bit tricky than you think specially if you are a beginner. So here are some tips you should keep in mind in growing an organic garden:

Don’t spend too much.

Don’t spend your money on those pricey organic fertilizers, organic products or gardening tools. If you spend too much money on these luxuries you will end up having an expensive organic food.

This is against the whole concept of why you chose organic garden. It is supposed to be free from chemicals and supposed to make you save money compared to chemical gardening.

Find the right place.

Before you plant your vegetables, you should know what kind of environment or condition they need. Some plants need more sunlight than others. Some need to be near a water resource.

If you are unsure of the different needs of your plants, then do some thorough research before planting them in the area. If you do this, in no time you will have fine quality and healthy vegetables.

Check the soils.

The first thing you should do is to check the moisture and pH level of the soil. You have to know what type of soil you have in your garden and then make corrections if necessary. If the soil is not in good condition that you may add compost, manures and grass clippings to improve the soil.

To achieve healthy growing vegetables, you have to set your solid in fine quality. A healthy soil means you have health organic plants.

Make compost.

There are two ways you can make compost. One, you can buy it in a store for a very cheap price. Two, you can use the kitchen scraps and waste.

This is disposing your waste in an environmental way. Making compost is not difficult. In fact, after a few times you have tried to make compost, the next ones would be easier.

You garden needs a bit of your time.

Most people tend to forget or ignore their new garden for just a few days. This is definitely not a good idea if you aim for vegetables in fine quality. It takes patience and time before you have a good organic garden.

You must give time and care to your plants or you will be creating problems of your own. In a day, you must spare time for your garden to check for pests, weeds and most importantly, to look after your plants. It might take a great effort for you but in time you will get used to it and you will see and taste the fruit of your labor.

Growing your crops through organic gardening is truly a safe and healthy way for you and your family to eat. After all, studies show that the chemical fertilizers used in crops by some people are linked to many diseases such as Cancer.

Winter Seasonal Gardening

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 26-05-2013

winter-snow-treeGardening during the summer is a fun and relaxing past time that millions of people enjoy.  As fall comes around, many people think that it is time to put away their gardening tools for the winter, but there are actually some great things you can do with your garden during the winter.  In some climates it will not be possible to grow anything outside because of the cold weather and snow, but in warmer climates you can often keep your garden going as long as you take extra care.

Winter gardening is not as difficult as many people might think, but it does take some planning and a little extra attention.  Most people agree that this is a great hobby to enjoy all winter long as long as you give it then care it requires.

Colder Climates

In parts of the country where it is simply too cold to do any gardening in the winter, you can still enjoy this excellent hobby.  You can start an herb garden inside.  Due to the small size of these plants, you can keep them on window ledges or even have a small area in a room dedicated only for them.  You can grow them through the winter inside and then either move them outside in the spring, or just keep them as an inside project all year.

There are many other plants which can do quite well in pots during the winter season.  The main concern for most people who take on indoor gardening activities is the size of the plant.  They wouldn’t want to grow corn for example, because the stalks get so large.  Tomatoes, however, are an excellent option for indoor growth.  Just make sure to place them in an area which has plenty of sunlight.

Warmer Climates

Winter gardening in warmer climates is not too difficult.  As long as it stays warm enough to keep the plants growing during the day, you can take steps to ensure they survive the nights easily.  Some people will grow everything in pots so they can move them inside during the evening and days when it is too cold, and then move them outside on warmer days.

Another option is to have your plants in the ground throughout the winter and use protective coverings to keep them warm during the night.  There are blankets designed to keep the frost and cold off of plants at night, and you can also consider custom glass enclosures which will help fight the cold.  They can even help intensify the sunlight so they will grow better on cool days.

The Importance of Home Landscaping

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in landscaping | Posted on 25-05-2013

Landscaping has been around for many years. In fact, it started off as early as our ancient history records. It creates a sense of relaxation and balance every time a homeowner comes home greeted by the sight of a beautiful garden. However, landscaping is not just about planting flowers, shrubs and trees in a vacant lot. It should have a great design concept and a good plan to initiate the project.

People are continuously in the lookout for a great design. A common requirement for these concepts should have a blend of both homely charm and beauty. The art of landscaping helps to boost the kind of living standards a homeowner has. It also increases the market value of the property the moment a sale comes to mind.front

Landscaping is also a great hobby especially for stay at home moms, old age individuals and for those who just want to try out gardening. Studies show that those who are highly interested in gardening are often those who can develop great landscaping designs. It is also a good way to boost one’s creativity and a great form of exercise.

Tips to Achieve a Great Landscape

There are few things to consider for you to achieve a great landscape. The following tips will help you achieve the desired home garden you want.

• Plan Carefully. This is the first and the most crucial step in getting a great home garden done. Choose the theme and design you will use. Once you know your design, you will be able to identify the type of plants you need to use. This will save you time and energy as you cannot simply pull out an already planted flower because you want to change your concept.

• Be Creative. Don’t just plant one kind of flower in a single plot. Also, don’t over crowd your flower bed by planting two kinds of flowers in alternating patterns. Instead, imagine your dream garden and make that a reality.

• Make Up Your Mind. Ask yourself what scenery you want to see the moment you arrive home. This will help to get your creative side thinking what to do and decide the kind of materials you want to use.

• Follow Simple Patterns. The basics of landscaping should never be forgotten. You have to bear in mind that color, form and texture must be coherent in creating your garden. Unity, proportion, balance and transition should also be observed. Simplicity, rhythm and repetition should be carefully chosen to create a well-designed garden.

• Create a Landscape with a Natural Feel. Landscaping often links nature and people closer. That is why you should make a garden that will give you the feeling of being one with nature. Incorporating water themed concepts is a good idea to bring you closer to nature.

Advantages of Having a Landscape Garden at Home

Hearing chirping birds and seeing butterflies in your lawn can be very rewarding. The sight of beautiful flowers and green plants can also give you a relaxing and pleasant mood. It gives you a sense of motivation to keep a serene surrounding that appeases your mental state.

Aside from these, there are other advantages that you can enjoy from having a landscaped garden at home. You will be able to enjoy fresher and cleaner air because the bushes, trees and shrubs you plant can help to improve better air quality. A haven for wildlife is also created when you make a landscaped garden.

A landscaped garden can also reduce pollution. The plants you have can absorb carbon dioxide and gives out oxygen that is helpful to the environment. Your garden trees and plants can also help to block out noise that will enable you to rest peacefully. A green landscape can also soothe tired and weary eyes the moment you take a look at your garden.

Top Gardening Tips for Winter

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 26-04-2013

I visited Melbourne, Australia recently and as a gardener, what do you think I was noticing?

Gardens and landscaping in the area. So I reached out to an Australian native and asked them if they would like to write a guest post. This post will give you a little insight into gardening in that area during the winter time.

How to Make the Most of Your Melbourne Garden

Melbourne and winter – two things that fit together like a hand in glove.

If you live in Melbourne you’ll either love or hate winter; very rarely if ever will you find someone who is indifferent towards it. No matter what your opinion of winter though, one thing is for sure; your garden loves this time of the year and will love you just as much if you give it the TLC it craves.

Here are six handy tips for a great Melbourne winter garden.

1. Winter is the time to prune!

Got a deciduous tree or two in your backyard? Maybe you’ve got a rose bush in the garden that has grown a little too big. If this sounds all too familiar, then perhaps it’s time to pull out the pruning shears.

Winter is the ideal time for pruning; the lack of foliage on deciduous trees and bushes makes the job easier and allows you to better identify and repair structural problems.

As a general rule it’s best to prune roses during the months of June and July – any earlier and you could potentially impede the possibility of new growth. When pruning your trees, we highly recommend maintaining the natural shape and growth habits.

2. Now’s the time for annuals

Get some color into your garden with a range of beautiful annuals. Whether you opt for pansies, snapdragons, sweet peas or sweet violas, or perhaps a combination of some or all of these flowers, these flowers will introduce a vibrancy and vitality to your garden that you’ll truly appreciate – especially during a grey and gloomy winter.

Winter annuals will typically begin flowering in June / July and last up until September. They’ll make a worthy addition to your garden that friends and family will love.

3. Don’t like the garden arrangement? Re-arrange it!

Here’s a mind blowing idea – if you’re not happy with the way your garden is arranged, or you simply think it’s time to change things up a bit, re-arrange it!

Want to move an evergreen shrub from one end of the garden to the other? Winter is probably the best time to do it. It’s important to get as much of the root as possible when extracting the plant from the soil, and we’d strongly suggest cutting down the leaf canopy for the relocation process.

4. Start preparing for spring

Certain plants and trees typically flower or produce fruit during spring, so the best time to maintain your garden to ensure maximum growth in the warmer months is to get things ready in winter. If you have hydrangeas in your garden, cutting them just above the buds in winter will help them grow beautifully in the spring.

If there are apple or pear trees in your yard, winter is the optimal time to thin out the branches in order to grow better quality fruit in the spring (even if there might be less growth, it’ll certainly be quality over quantity).

5. Update your soil profile

Like humans, plants and trees require quality soil for nourishment and survival. Throughout the warmer months of the year, say from September to April, most plants and trees draw heavily on the nutrients in the soil in order to remain healthy.

This means that over time the soil becomes depleted of those essential nutrients. Therefore we recommend replacing those nutrients during the winter months; infusing the soil with such organic products as mushroom compost, cow manure (for mineral supplement) and Blood & Bone for strong root growth.

6. It’s all about the bare-rooted plants

Throughout winter you’ll find that bare rooted plants and shrubs – plants that have had their soil removed – are quite cheap, simple to grow and easy to come by. They are typically sold during winter because evaporation levels in the air are low and so they have a greater chance of survival. This makes them the ideal winter garden option.

Of course you may want to undertake larger scale tasks to improve your garden – you might need a tree removal service in Melbourne or clear up some storm damage. Whatever the case may be, don’t let the grey and gloom of the Melbourne winter deter you from enjoying your garden. Now is one of the best times to exercise your green thumbs!

About the author:

Stuart Briggs never used to be a keen gardener, but has developed an experienced green thumb in a short space of time. When he’s not getting his hands dirty in the soil, Stuart loves surfing, going for a lengthy run on a cold, brisk morning and taking photographs from some of Melbourne’s most picturesque locations.